With puppies (or any new dog in the house, really), there are lots of milestones. For instance, Bella, is starting to learn to use the bells at the backdoor to let us know she needs to go out, and she's learning 'down' by watching Daisy and Lucy get into a down and get snacks while noticing that she's still sitting and isn't getting snacks. But in our house, there's another big milestone.
Frisbee Tug of War!
No, really. This is a thing. (At least in my house. But we have Goldendoodles, and they are nutters. Great dogs, but nutters. Don't believe the myth that they are super chill, low key dogs. They are retrievers mixed with poodles. Not exactly two of of the most chill dogs in the world. Mix them, and you've got complete crazies. However, for us, the crazy is a feature, not a flaw!)
Way back when I still figuring out how to use a digital camera (and hadn't learned much at all about photographing dogs), when Fi and her younger sister Abby were young dogs, frisbee tug of war was a great game that could be played for hours on end, in any conditions. Many a good frisbee died in this game, but the frisbee lives were not given in vain - the girls had TONS of fun.
As an aside, the girls' love for frisbee fun was such that it motivated me to become the action photographer I am today - I loved watching Fi and Abby fling themselves into the air, only partially caring if they caught the frisbee or not. I spent many, many hours, photographing them, working on technique so I could get better at these action photos.
But that's another story for another day. Anyway, Abby got cancer quite early in her life and we had to say goodbye to her when she was 5 years old. Fi had never been an only dog, and since she and Abby were biological sisters, and we knew Abby's loss would be hard on Fi, we got a puppy, Daisy.
Fi was 6 when we Daisy, and Fi wasn't so sure about the whole puppy thing. However, Daisy was relentless (another Doodle feature/flaw!) and Fi couldn't really get away from Daisy, so Daisy was brought into the Frisbee Fold (so to speak).
Fi was a bit non-plussed with Daisy nudging in on her frisbee time, but again, Daisy was relentless.
Because Daisy was relentless, and Fi wasn't always into Daisy's particular brand of nuttiness, we got Lucy-Fur. (I think when we got Lucy-Fur, Fi thought we had completely lost our minds and wanted to start to look for a new family. However, she quickly realized that Daisy was directing most of her energy toward Lucy-Fur - Daisy's biological sister from a different litter - and Fi had some space to get out of the fray.)
Lucy-Fur quickly picked up the Frisbee tug-of-war concept from Daisy, and it was game on. (Fi was happy to chase frisbees when she had her private time in the yard, not being hassled by the youngsters. By this point, Fi had had a melanoma in one eye, and her vision in that eye wasn't as good as it had been, so she liked to chase frisbees and tennis balls without being distracted by the youngsters.)
And now, with all the history, you'll see why I was So Excited when Lucy-Fur and Bellatrix had their first session of Frisbee tug of war!
This is a huge milestone! Yes, it means that Lucy-Fur is getting more comfortable with Bellatrix (and vice-versa), and Bellatrix is starting to find her spot in the family, and really settle in.
But for me, it also means the carrying on of a family tradition. And while I'm sure there will many (many, many) hours of Frisbee tug of war in our future, there will be a time when Lucy-Fur will think napping in the sun sounds better than playing tug of war, and eventually, Bellatrix will introduce another dog to the joys of Frisbee tug of war, and I will look back on the photos of Lucy-Fur and Daisy the way I look back on the photos of Fi and Abby, and even Fi with a wee Daisy. They are little moments in time that happen almost every day. Until they don't for some reason or another. And while I wish all dogs could remain health 3-4 year olds for about 20 years, life is nothing if not change. I'll enjoy our dogs' senior days (I love senior dogs - another story for another day) but when all the dogs are snoozing, I'll enjoy looking back at the youthful enthusiasm our kids showed.
I say this all the time, to the point that it almost sounds trite, but it's not. Photographs really are time machines. Fi and Abby are across the Rainbow Bridge (chasing frisbees and tennis ballls there), and yet when I look at the old photos, I'm able to paddle up the River of Time a bit and watch my girls flying through the air again. It makes me smile, and it makes me appreciate all the youthful shenanigans of our current kids even more - I know there will be a time when I wil miss Bellatrix stealing my shoes, or Daisy nudging my hand for snacks on our hikes, so I enjoy those moments now. Just like I enjoy Frisbee Tug of War for the joy it brings the dogs now, and for connecting these girls to the girls that have come before them.