Monday, May 25, 2009

Wild Child

My mom borrowed the good camera for a trip, so I’ve been left with the three-year-old point and shoot camera I picked up for my travels in Alaska.

Even though it’s not quite as impressive a piece of equipment as the Canon, I’ve still been able to get a few good pictures, and this one just took my breath away. To be fair, I did pose Ajax in those wildflowers while we waited for Comet and Andy to help a turtle out of the parking lot. His head is turned because he hears them coming down the trail toward us.

Posed or not, this photo captures one of the things I love about Ajax: the fact that he seems so at home in nature, like a wild child that we borrow, bring to our house, and have to return periodically for visits to the woods.

Jax obviously isn’t the only dog at home in the woods. In fact, Comet is usually the leader on their tears around the trails, and Jax has to split his time between games of chase and long, deliberate smelling sessions with the leaf litter.

He loves to soar in the air almost as much as he loves to smell in the brush. Ajax is constantly jumping on, off, or over every available obstacle, sometimes going out of his way for a particularly good jump. I was lucky to catch this with the little camera, since you have to wait almost a second between shots, and that’s an eternity during a dog jump.

If there’s one thing the the dogs have taught me, it’s to live with gratitude for all the little things we train ourselves to overlook. These dogs greet the familiar and the new with two equal kinds of enthusiasm and grace, and it’s hard to watch them without having at least a little of that spirit rub off on you.

I can’t count the times that I’ve paused to savor that warm thankfulness for the fact that Jax dropped into our lives so unexpectedly and smoothly.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

At Home in the Woods

It’s a strange thing to watch a dog make that swift but often imperceptible switch from puppyhood to adulthood. The energetic insanity gives way, temporarily, to flashes of quiet curiosity, complex thinking, and the occasional realization that working with the human is actually his job.

Ajax has recently become solid on “stay,” so it’s possible to park him, take a a few steps back, and match him up with good lighting and a good background. I especially love how the light diffuses through his iris, despite his squint, and gives a tone of amber to his chocolate eyes.

He matches the background so nicely that it’s easy to imagine him as a child of the woods, a sprite returning home to play.

The fu manchu whiskers are a nice touch too.

That “stay” has gotten so good, in fact, that I can park both dogs, take a step back, and try to get them in the full sun. Soaked by the lake, dazzled by the sun, and exhausted by the exercise, they’re the epitome of happy and satisfied.

After a long hike, there’s nothing like getting back to the car with your messy hair and preparing for the short ride home, where you can take a well-deserved nap. The dogs get to nap too.

On second thought, Jax doesn’t really look that old when he’s next to Comet. He’s certainly grown quite a bit in two months, but he’s still indisputably a puppy.