I could call the game Stalin Cuts the Cheese, and within a minute or two at most he would have the name of Stalin firm in his memory, and every time after this moment when I would say the word, his eyes would meet mine with that border collie glow, and he would be ready to run. Conscience will not permit me to use that devil’s name so instead I call it Go and we go.
Rocks, sea shells, tennis balls – any of the three will do. He sits, I move ten feet away and bend toward the ground, extend my right arm and say Go!, and he takes off towards me, and I sidearm the rock away, and he follows its bounces, touches it with his nose, turns and hurtles back; now I have turned and faced the opposite direction, bent low again and when he’s almost upon me, I fling another rock away; he passes inches from my legs. At the beach last summer playing Go with shells, he was so intent that he upended my grandnephew like a soda can and sent him spinning one full circle in the air to land on his back with a whoosh and a stunned glaze to his face as if a mini-storm he had not seen coming had picked on him alone. I held my breath until he quickly stood up and ran to his mother (he was back in moments but now safely tucked behind me). Wolfie only looked puzzled: What happened to my shell?
Even if we had not snipped him, we would not have bred him. He is an epileptic and he runs like a bad halfback, head up, shoulders squared too high, a target all the way, and he has none of that sneaky speed Borders can call up at a whim. His back legs hippity-hop more than smoothly peddle. Wolves would laugh at him. But he loves the snow and children and is a watchful observer of everything except deer which he will chase while yipping like a little girl.
Yesterday in the midst of the storm we walked the field next door. Three dozen snow geese rose from the chopped corn sheaves into the snow-enfolding air, their black wing tips flashing like ciphers. Wolfie raced toward them, a happy boy, and entirely unconscious of the joy he gave me simply by being in motion.