5. The Lump becomes The Pup

Dear Boomer,

The dog days of summer.  I wonder why the humanoids use that expression?

If anything, this is the dog drought of summer.  Go to the park at the usual hours, and often you’ll find no one there.

It was good to see you the other day.  The summer has gone so quickly, and it seems ages since we last sniffed.  And yet, you’ll recall, there was scarcely another dog to be wagged at, even at 5 in the afternoon.

I know, we’ve both had other things to do.  My humanoids took me out to the cottage most weekends, and for a two-week stint, they sent me off to summer camp.[1] 

I enjoyed meeting all the other dogs at camp.  At night, we’d hunker down in our cages and tell ghost stories.  When my Alpha came to get me, I was looking forward to telling you and Jasper about all my adventures, but once I got to Windsor Park, there was not another dog to be seen.  Maybe everyone else is at summer camp too.

It’s too bad we don’t have the numbers during the summer, because this is also the height of tennis ball season.  More tennis players than dogs, especially when the tennis classes are on. 

And more balls than you could wag a tail at.  Sooner or later, some of the balls go sailing over the fence and off into the bushes.  The tennis schools yield a particularly good bounty.  Luckily, some balls can’t be found by humanoids with their short noses.  But with my sniffer, I can ferret out a lost tennis ball in no time.

If we had the numbers, we wouldn’t need to wait for the humanoids to lose their balls by accident.  We could make a rush and go for all the balls our hearts desired – enough balls to squirrel away until the winter time. 

Think about it.  So long as we are few in number, we wouldn’t dare disobey our alphas.  But if enough of us made a dash at the same moment, we could throw such confusion among the humanoids, they wouldn’t be able to react before we scored as many tennis balls as we wanted.

Imagine the chaos.  Tennis players shouting at our alphas.  Our alphas shouting at us. 

And all of us having a grand old time, racing across the tennis courts, whirling around the ankles of the tennis players, making a grab for any ball in sight. [2]

I wouldn’t dare try this on my own.  I wouldn’t suggest that we try it with just two of us.  But if we could get the whole 5 PM doggie klatsch to make a break for it, I think we could score a victory that would go down in the annals of doggie-dom.

Good in theory.  But unfortunately, we don’t have the numbers just yet.  By the time all our friends are back from the cottages and summer camps, the tennis schools have closed, and there’s not nearly as many singles and couples matches.  Maybe if we started planning now, we could organize something for next summer.

On the home front, I just want you to know that I’m reassessing my opinion of The Lump.  As I’ve told you before, I find him to be a somewhat bothersome member of the pack.  Ever since he arrived three winters ago, he’s received more attention than me. 

She-who-must-be-obeyed has always fed him before me.  I thought my seniority gave me some privileges, but I was wrong.

I don’t get it.  He doesn’t have fur.  He doesn’t have a long nose. 

And he doesn’t even respect the basic rudiments of manners, such as smelling a bum when first meeting another being.  For several seasons now, he’s been nothing but The Lump.

But the other day, he actually threw a ball far enough to make it a challenge for me to catch it. 

And when I brought the ball back, he threw it again, even farther! 

This opens up wondrous possibilities.  It may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  I’ll keep you posted.

But in the meantime, I think I’d better give him a different name.  Henceforth, he shall be known as The Pup.[3] 

I wonder if he understands the honour that is being bestowed upon him.  He ought to be grateful – so grateful, in fact, that I’m going to see whether he’ll toss me a few scraps from the dinner table tonight, when the others aren’t watching.

                                                                                Keep the tennis ball flying,


[1] Exhaustive research into the “summer camp” that Zoscha refer to here for the first time was likely the Gloucester Boarding Kennels near the Leitrim Road.  Zoscha would go on to make many fond references to her time there, but she never divulged any further details on what she did during the time. Hence the expression among the dogs of Windsor Park, “What goes on in Leitrim, stays in Leitrim.”

[2] Such revolutionary fervor would ebb and flow in Zoscha’s politics throughout her career.  See Deirdre W. Somosa, Anarchy: From Bakunin to Zoscha, Carleton University Press, 2005.

[3] The distinction between a “Lump” and a “Pup” would become increasingly important in Zoscha-speak.  See, “Lumps, Pups, and Young-uns,” Reader’s Digestion, April, 2002.