Joni is now 2 years old and this photograph appears to portray a dog that is calm and mature and even sensitive. The true story, however, is somewhat different. As I type this, Steven is outside on a ladder in the pouring (and freezing) rain clearing leaves from the gutters in preparation for the snow expected tomorrow. He has trudged back and forth carrying a heavy long ladder all around the house with a wet, bedraggled Joni at his heels. Each time he stops and puts the ladder down to set it in place, Joni drops the Frisbee at his feet ready for him to play. Does that show sensitivity? Maturity? I think not.
Even this photograph, where she is lying apparently peacefully on a rug disguises her real state, which is closer to that of a coiled spring. She is watching us working around the kitchen, gauging where she should drop her blue ball so that we might see it and start a game. It took me several frames to get one this sharp as all the others were blurred by her sudden movements.
She is only 2 years old, still a youngster, so the playfulness and excitement is completely understandable. And she is a border collie, so the focus will never lessen, at least not for several years. But she could show a little understanding and sensitivity to the situation and not ask a busy man on a freezing roof to play Frisbee. Give him a break, Joni!
Border collies are working dogs and are happiest when they have a job. That job can be something as fun as playing Frisbee or ball, or as serious as sheep herding or search and rescue. Joni wears this pack often when we go for a walk, partly because it helps to focus her, but also because the weight it carries gives her additional exercise and builds stamina and muscle. When she sees me holding the pack, she walks up and puts her nose into the harness. As soon as it is buckled on her character changes to being calm and serious. She becomes a working dog in fact as well as name.
She is learning to wait patiently for me while I stop to chat with someone or to take a photograph as I was here. She has also learned to drop to a 'down' position wherever she is, when I raise my arms and call her name (this was how the sheep herder told me to train her). She will also come straight back to me and sit by my left side when I call her name and tap my leg. She needs to work a bit more on it as, like a child, at times she becomes distracted and needs a reminder that life is not all about play. But she is getting there. She will soon be 2 years old.
This big red ball is mostly air with wonderful soft but strong rubber webbing that is most satisfying to run after and catch and chew (I imagine) and almost as much fun for us to kick and throw. The main problem with it is that it rolls. Of course all balls roll, but this one rolls without much outside influence. So Joni who loves to play with it shaking it and tossing it over her head, watches it with delight as it rolls away, then leaps to catch it and repeats the exercise.
The trouble is that our drive has a gentle slope and when the ball rolls past a certain point, Joni knows she can't go after it as it's outside of her boundary. So she sits and watches it as it makes its way down the hill, gaining momentum as it goes around the corner and out of sight, before it comes to rest, buried in some weeds or under a pile of (red) leaves at the base of a tree. As most of this playing and losing of the red ball is done while we are elsewhere, we have no idea that it's even missing until we look for it to play with her and find it… gone.
If she lost it only a short time before we arrive on the scene she might still be sitting staring around the end of the drive in the general direction where she last saw it. Usually by the time we are looking for it, Joni has moved on to other toys that don't leave of their own accord (such as the Frisbee) and looks at us blankly when we ask where it is.
She loved it as soon as we brought it home to her and this photo is showing her and the new red ball on the day she first got it. We still have it, but now have to reserve her playtime with it when we are there to keep an eye on it.
Joni has her rituals and habits as do we all. She refines and develops hers into more and more complicated routines and uses her communication skills to train us to respond to them and make us a partner in them. This is her latest. If you looked out of our kitchen window you would not see a dog on our property. You would see dog toys – a Frisbee or a ball, strategically placed so you wouldn't be able to miss them if you stepped outside the door. As soon as you were outside, you would hear a slight movement in the bushes. If you crouched down, this is what you would see, lurking in the bushes, almost invisible. Her eyes are fixed on the toy near you, pointedly looking in that direction in case you have missed it. Every nerve of her body is tense as she waits for you to take part in the game. And you have to! How could you bear to disappoint her when she looks like that?
At last, another treat for the followers of Joni and Her Collection!
It's been a while since we showed her softer side as usually she wears the intense and focused expression so common in this breed. This time I caught her watching a bee that was crawling around on the ground. She seems to be able to spot an insect or worm wherever it is in the grass and usually alerts me to it by a cycle of dancing around it barking in excitement first, then trying to pat it with her paw and finally sitting down and putting on her friendliest look, hoping that it will be enticed to play with her. Then she starts the whole performance again. This shows her friendly face stage.
Joni will be 2 years old in December so she is still a young dog and finds delight in her discoveries every day as does a child. When I see her doing this I am often able to share in her excitement and have seen many tiny wonders just from watching her.
Everyone who is following Joni’s story has heard about her passion obsession with blue balls. Here is a portrait of her with her two current favourites. (One is more of an egg shape and originally came dressed up in a cute fluffy animal cover, but that went in about 10 minutes, leaving the business part ready for play.)
I thought I should post this to show that Joni does have a comfortable time when she is indoors. She doesn’t spend her entire life in ice and snow. Though I think it’s only the blue balls and meal times that make indoor life bearable for her. (I had to break this post off three times to fetch it for her when she had bounced the blue egg out of her reach.)
I hope you all have a day as full of fun as she does with her blue balls!
I know it doesn't look like a lot of fun, when you are hunched against a bitter wind that is whipping your hair (or fur) around and ice is freezing your eyelashes. But you have to admit that there is something exciting about it as well.
I thought that the other day on this walk with Joni. I had my scarf up over my nose and my colourful wool hat pulled down to my eyebrows, held firmly in place with the hood of my winter jacket. I was dressed in layers and layers of thin wool, then ski pants on top and warm thick woolly boot socks. I was trudging along on my snowshoes on top of the thick wind-sculpted drifts, only stopping long enough to pick up Joni's throw toy and send it off into the swirling snow so she could go racing after it. She absolutely loved the game and the walk and bounded over the deep snow in what looked like pure joy. And I looked around me across the white fields that were misted with blowing snow and I felt exhilarated at the sight and the conditions. I love it. And Joni loves it too. What you see in this picture is a happy dog. Photographed by a happy person.*
*If you have your camera out in conditions like this, make sure you bring it into a cool room to acclimatise before bringing it into the warm, to avoid condensation in the camera innards.
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We had just finished a long cold walk in the snow and were all feeling tired but happy. During the snowy walks through forest and field, Joni spends a lot of her time digging around in the snow while she waits for us to catch up to her, slow as we are on our two legs. She might be playing with her red fire-hose cushion that we throw for her, digging it out of the snow, or searching for scurrying little creatures that she can smell or perhaps hear. When I opened the car door and called her in, she gave me this look. I still had my camera in my hand, took this picture and then another and another thinking that the viewfinder was getting fogged up. Nope! Not just the viewfinder… the lens too. So that's why there is a lovely soft blurry effect around her. I know my friend +Alex Lapidus loves a bit of blur, too…
For my long time firl +Loraine Slessor who wanted to see pictures of Joni. BTW, Loraine, you can follow me and subscribe on my blog if you like. A note about it and a link are in the post below. 😀
Are you not able to comment on Google+ because you don't belong? Would you prefer to comment on my blog? It's right here with all my G+ posts on it, and a subscription option: https://www.elliekennard.ca .
The theme of the bi-weekly B&W Project this time is Emotion. This was a revisit of a photograph I took a year ago when we first got Joni, as a pup. You will find the original posting and photograph I took here https://elliekennard.ca/love-me-love-my-dog/.
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