The slowest of the brood, Oscar and Titus seem like long-lost, confused brothers. While they have their moments where their little brains suddenly spark to life, their days generally follow the same pattern; get up, get excited about going outside, run, go inside, eat, sleep, get excited about going outside, run, eat, try to get on Mom and Dad's bed, get yelled at, sleep.
Big Boy Oscar is old and ornery. He constantly whines in an attempt to convey his inner turmoil, Ugh Mom and Dad. No I can't move from the bed, I realize you guys want to go to sleep but I can't move. My legs have all simultaneously broken. NOOOO DAD don't pick me up. Fine. I admit it, I was exaggerating my legs aren't broken. But they might as well be!! DAD!! Don't you realize how hard my life is? When I take the time to explain to my little manatee-esque Oscar that his day consisted of sleeping and occasionally tearing himself off of the couch to eat, my rant is met with a vague stare. He then sighs, takes twenty minutes to get down, looks at me like I've ruined his world, turns around forty-five times on his dog bed until all imaginary twigs have been patted down, sighs and goes to sleep. This cycle continues everyday without fail, as the pit bull is long-suffering and has a terribly difficult life.
We figured all was lost until Avery came into our lives. When Titus or Oscar are told to do something, besides Oscar's deep sighs and overall stubborn personality, the command is always carried out without question. I say shake, I get paws thrown at me. I say come, I hear elephants scurrying through the kitchen. I say wanna go to the doctor? and both dogs shake their bodies with a questionably large amount of enthusiasm. Wanna jump off a bridge? generally sends Titus and Oscar into a tizzy so ferocious that they start fighting, a battle, I assume, over who gets to jump off first. Then again, if I were to say anything with a high-pitched inflection, both dogs go nuts. FOOTBALL! CUISINART! PANCAKE! each will cause the duo to run around circles and jump (as well as big dogs can) in the air. Oscar will smile while Titus does his signature "happy dance." (Imagine a 60 pound dog standing on a pile of burning wood who is unable to keep his paws, for even more than a second, on the burning embers) But Avery is different.
I'm not saying that she doesn't follow commands, she does, but she seems a little bit more thoughtful. When we got the little pup, she was timid about everything, as if she needed to fully understand her surroundings before she fully committed to anything. When the other dogs get excited, Avery usually sticks herself a few feet back in order to really figure out exactly why her brothers are acting like rabid hyenas. It took weeks before she'd stick her head out of the car window, and even longer for her to play with her brothers.
This weekend, we abstained from hunting, as sleep and DU's finals were calling. Hence, on Saturday we decided to take the boat out to explore some prospective hunting spots for opening day. Avery's been out in the boat before, testing the waters as Duck Retrieval Extraordinaire. However, as of late, Avery's been lax in her retrieving and acting like a big primadonna. So, in order to check her little princess attitude and get used to the cold, we took her out on the majestic 45 degree day, sporting her new neoprene vest.
The day started out well, Avery jumped in the car and rode quietly to the expanse of water we were searching. We pulled into the boat launch, descended from the truck and began boating preparations. Knowing full well what was coming, Avery bounced out of the truck. She gracefully allowed me to pick her up and place her in the boat.
We flew down the river and for a slight moment, Avery's bat-dog persona believed she could fly as well.
With her ears at least.
Our loud motor kicked up thousands of migrating and resident waterfowl. It was beautiful how loud their wings became as the birds collectively took flight. Avery silently watched, save for a few growls. We found a neat shallow area to stop the boat quickly and see how our duck dog took to cold water. DU's long legs easily scaled the side of the boat in one motion. Immediately noticing what was about to occur, those little brown eyes looked at me, pleading.
Avery: Are we really about to do this, mom?
Me: Yup. Sorry, sweetheart but you have to get used to this cold water.
Avery: This is child abuse. This water is seconds away from freezing.
Me: Bleeding hearts of the world unite, love. Look, you have a neoprene vest- you'll be warm.
Avery: I don't care if it's neoprene, Mom. I'm not going in. I hardly think a vest will keep me warm. Have you ever worn a vest in frigid water and been told to retrieve ducks in your mouth?
Me: Can't say that I have. But then again, you're a dog, covered in fur, and don't forget, you love doing this so get your cute butt in the water.
Me: If your brothers were here, they would do my bidding.
Avery: Ugh, Mom. Have you seen them? Titus eats dirt and Oscar's breath smells like dead fish- of course they do your bidding, they're idiots.
Me: You chase your tail for hours a day.
Avery: Point taken.
Me: Good, now get in the water.
At that second, my lovely girl backed into the edge of the boat where DU was standing. Seeing the opportunity, DU swept her up and threw her in. Landing with a soft thud, Avery surfaced and frantically tried to get back on the boat
Avery: Mooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmm!!!! Help me up!! Help me up!! PLEASE!! I swear I'll stop chasing my tail!
Unable to get back in the boat, Avery stopped floundering and simply stood in the water, refusing to look in our direction. We realized that Avery would sooner start tap dancing than move in the chilly water so we packed up and ventured back to shore. As the sun started to set, I realize that lack of sun and freezing water was turning Avery into a pupsicle. I sat down and held her tight. Slowly she started to thaw. On the way home, her gaze started to soften and I could see that she understood even in some deep, puppy way why she had to go in the water. I whispered to her that she was going to make a great duck dog. Through sleepy eyes, she must have heard because soon she was contently dreaming of retrieving ducks.
When we got home, Titus and Oscar ran to us as if we had been gone for weeks.
Chorus: We love you!! We love you!! Where have you been? Did you bring treats?? You smell good! We love you!!!
Even with a few processing delays, fishy breaths, teenager attitudes, and questionable comprehension skills, my dogs are the greatest source of amusement and love I could ever ask for. Titus and Oscar will always be strictly, ignorantly loyal, fun-loving pups. It remains to be seen how well Avery is going to take to water. If this weekend showed us anything, it is that she'll be hardworking and do great- even if she gets scared or hesitates, we'll be by her side to help her out, no matter what.