Thursday, February 10, 2011

Water Babies

I have a friend who some years ago had a dog that couldn’t swim.  Of course, we all know that dogs can swim – it is a natural thing.  But this dog, a Norwegian Elkhound (Norway, the land of fiords and other bodies of water – certainly swimming should be part of the ancestry) if he got into a body of water that was deeper than his chest, would simply sink like a stone and wait to be rescued.

My dogs, as far as I know, all can swim, but most of them are not particularly enthusiastic about water.  Habibi does not like water at all; when I am washing down the yard in the morning, he perches on top of the dog house where not a stray drop can reach him.  When it is raining, or even when the patio is damp from a dewy night, he will sit on the step next to the door hoping that I am not serious about him wetting his dainty paws.  Desert dogs, remember? is his attitude.

Some years ago, I travelled with two of the Canaans to Switzerland for a dog show, and we went for a hike in the mountains.  They were absolutely stunned to see a little brook running through the rocks – they had never seen running water like that before.  They were very uncertain about stepping in it. “This water is making noises and bubbles, it must be dangerous!  Maybe it will bite!” It took a lot of false starts before they finally decided that they really could put their feet in it.

But every now and then, a mutation occurs and I get a puppy that is a water baby.  This is really not a characteristic that I appreciate having in the gene pool.  From the age that they can stand, these puppies are in the water dish, and as they grow, they seem to feel a need to redistribute the water all over the immediate vicinity. 

Buffy, who you have already met, is one of these.  The dogs here have very large water buckets, so that they will always have plenty of drinking water, and in the hopes that the size and weight of them will prevent them being knocked over and spilled.  Buffy is undaunted.  Although the bucket comes up to her shoulder, she climbs into it with her front feet and joyously manages to scatter most of the water in all directions.  “Aren’t I clever!!!” is what she is obviously thinking.

Jenny, my eight month old collie girl, is even worse.  From the time that this litter started running around the house and playing with toys, if I was looking for Jenny, I knew where I would find her – digging in the water dish.  She just can’t resist the opportunity.  The buckets in the yard are tied to the fence, because it is impossible for Jenny and a full bucket to remain together in the same space for more than five minutes.  She climbs in with her feet, but she also loves knocking the bucket over and splashing around in the water.  But what is even more interesting is that she stands the bucket up again.  I have seen her knock them over, but have not seen how she picks them up, but there is no doubt about it.  For a while, after refilling the bucket twenty times and coming out after a few minutes to find it empty, I thought that maybe it was leaking.  After all, it was standing upright in the same place.  But no, it was Jenny.   After I tied the bucket to the fence, it stopped “leaking”, although Jenny didn’t stop swimming in it.

Most collies are very concerned about keeping their pristine little white paws shiny and clean – not Jenny!  Wet is fun!  She and Chance, the maniac, also have decided that the stream of water from the hose, when I am trying to finish my morning work and wash down the yard, is much more fun to herd than sheep, and run after the water with bared teeth and tremendous enthusiasm.

Wet collies take a LONG time to dry….


  1. That was funny, it is strange the way some dogs love the water and others don't. We got Simi, our male, at about 5 months old. It was the 3rd week in December so it was cold here in Las Vegas. When we came home from the airport, I took him into the back yard to relieve himself and he obviously had never seen a swimming pool. We had a cover on it and he ran across the cover until he reached the other side of the pool. He sunk into the really cold water, flipped himself up onto the cover and ran back to me. In 6 years I have never been able to entice him into the pool, he is terrified of it. On the other hand, my Tova, who came to us from you, from the desert, will get into the pool and swim in a circle to cool off on the hottest days, especially if its 115 degrees outside. Then she feels good and prances around like a puppy. They are just like our kids, all different.

  2. That' s so true. This post reminded me of a strory I read; this Finnish writer Yrsa Stenius has always lived surrounded with dachshunds and once in the countryside, two female dachshunds were engaged in a fight, on the boat deck. They were fighting so vigorously that they fell in the sea. The other one was a great swimmer who could swim for hours.She swam to the shore and climbed back on the deck. The other one had never swum. Because she was a dachshund, her long body turned vertically and started sinking like a bottle. The Olympic swimmer- dachshund watched from the deck, saw her enemy going down and jumped right back in the water. She dragged the other one by the neck to the dry land. After all, it' s cowardly to try to drown yourself just to get out of a good fight!
    They both shook themselves and continued fighting like nothing happened.

    Anna Maria