41. Champion

Dear Boomer,

            Just got back from the amusement park with Alpha.[1]  We’re very fortunate to have such a world class amusement centre within easy walking distance. I hear adult humanoids talking with their pups about traveling long distances to visit such places.  We get to trot around the precincts several times a day.

            And in fact, this is my favourite time of year for amusements in Windsor Park.  Let the humanoids travel south in search of rides, and giant mice in bow ties and white gloves.[2]  I’ll stay right here with the old reliable sights and sounds, and the ceaseless entertainment of balls and squirrels.

            I find it hard to decide just which feature of the amusement park I find most entertaining.  At this time of year, the slick ice near the play structures is always a fun ride – especially when Alpha and the Pup are not preoccupied with chasing that black rubber thing with their sticks and the knife-boots.[3] 

            Throw a ball across the ice, and it will bounce forever.  Skitter after it, and you’re just as likely to overshoot and land in the snow drift.  This is not conducive to one’s dignity, but always provides a great source of amusement for humanoids, which means they throw the ball more.

            At this time of year, they discourage us from leaping over the boards.  And with the ice so hard upon landing, I’m just as glad.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m willing to chase any ball thrown any direction at any time.  But leaping over boards does get a bit hard on the bones at our age, doesn’t it old girl.

            Then there’s the game of throw-the-stick-onto-the-river.  The wonder of this amusement is the depth of the snow along the riverbank.  We need to leap like deer to get through the snow and onto the ice. 

            My favourite amusement of all in a park full of games is to stand on the top of the hill where the humanoids gather to slide down.  They slide on various contraptions -- each year brings a new way to slide.  I prefer to simply run in pursuit of a ball, of course.[4] 

            The joy of this location is that the contraptions pack down the snow so the ball bounces better.  And of course, there are always many humanoids, both adult and pup, who would enjoy nothing better than to throw a ball down the hill for a handsome and enthusiastic dog.

            But just when I think I’ve savoured all the joys of our amusement park, the humanoids come up with something different.  What did you make of it a few weeks back?  So many humanoids all at one time.  Horses too.  Smells of hot dogs and chile, and of course the frequent bounty of a wiener accidently dropped into the snow.[5]

            And there, in the area with the big fence where, in the summer, the humanoids hit our balls back and forth without letting us chase them, they set up an obstacle course for us.  You’re not yet recovered from that bad spell you went through last month, so maybe you weren’t up to trying it.  But the course was challenging, I can assure you. 

            We had to sit.  Twice.  Within the circumference of two plastic hoops.  Then we had to wheel our way in and out of a row of pylons.  Then the biggest challenge of all:  walking along an elevated board.  And finally the last dash for the finish line, with two low fences to jump along the way.[6]

            But I love a good challenge that engages the mind and the body, and the discipline to marshal the skills of a humanoid.  I must say, I was very proud of both Alpha and the Pup.  I put them through this drill several times, and they were able to keep up with me as I mastered each task.  I even trained them sufficiently so that they gave me treats after they had completed the course to my satisfaction.

            And the lovely lady who seemed to be organizing the whole thing seemed happy with Alpha and the Pup’s performance as well.  She sent them home with a bag of doggie treats as a prize.  And of course, I’ve trained them to share their bounty generously with me.

                                                            Feeling like the champion I am,


[1] Obviously a reference to Windsor Park.  The editor knows of no other instance where Zoscha referred to her favourite haunt as an “amusement park,” although it is clear that she found many amusements there.

[2] Cassandra Wise, Tail to Thee Blythe Spirit, suggests that Zoscha may have seen advertisements for Disney World on television.  The Chronicles offer no evidence she actually met Mickey Mouse in person.

[3] Zoscha often referred to the skating rink at Windsor Park.  See, for example, “Limping Along Together,” Part 60, March 2006.

[4] The toboggan hill at Windsor Park is popularly known as “Brody’s Hill,” after one of Zoscha’s companions who could spend hours fetching balls at this location.

[5] Probably a reference to the annual winter carnival at Windsor Park.

[6] Among the events at the Windsor Park winter carnival is an obstacle course for dogs at the tennis courts.