Jonathan Rose

Department of Political Studies, Queen’s University

Dogs before Dignity

Posted August 12th, 2016
It ended 45 minutes after it began with some random young woman saying “Nice job! Nice underwear”.
 
Lucy, Denzil and Nathaniel and I were at Battery Park which has a large almost enclosed bay. I went to show the boys how to get Lucy, our water dog, to retrieve balls in the water. She can do this for hours but recently has become obsessed with ducks.
Lucy diving for a ball at Battery Park, Kingston.

Lucy diving for a ball at Battery Park, Kingston.

If there are ducks nearby, all bets are off and she will chase them wherever they go and however far out they go. So, the lesson tonight began with “Always make sure there are no ducks”. When we began there were no ducks. We had learned our lesson in early July when she chased ducks in Kingston’s Inner Harbour for about a half hour.  
 
Lucy was perfect in bringing back the ball and we were ready to leave when she spotted a a family of ducks and all bets were off.
 
At first it was slightly amusing and the tourists who walked by laughed and I said hopefully through a tense smile, “She’ll come back”. After ten minutes or so my kids had enough and were fed up with my inability to get her back and left for home.

 

A more obedient Lucy at Battery Park, 2015.

A more obedient Lucy at Battery Park, 2015.

People offered all sorts of advice. “You should whistle”, said one woman. Another said I should throw in bread to attract the ducks. When I told her I don’t carry bread with me, she huffed and walked away. Lucy continued to chase the ducks but tempted the growing crowd who cheered as she seemed to come back to shore only to be distracted by ducks who now seemed to be taunting her to chase them. She was up for it and off she went.
 
After 45 minutes of this including a boat that had herded her back unsuccessfully I figured I needed to get her.
 
Some young woman who apparently had been watching her said “I was just thinking of whether to go in after her”. I replied “I’ll go but can you keep an eye on my clothes?” I jumped in and “sprinted” after Lucy who first swam toward me quite happily. She then realized that she might be in trouble so began to swim away from me.
 
After I caught up to Lucy I swam back holding on to her. People on the shore were scaring away the ducks in case Lucy got away. There were also a disconcerting number of people with iPhones taking a picture of some middle aged brown guy swimming in his underwear chasing a dog.
 
When I finally got to shore, dripping wet, sheepish and with a bit of a crowd around,  the woman who volunteered to get Lucy said “Nice job! Nice underwear”.  All I could do was smile, get dressed and walk as if this were all completely normal.  
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