When Benny arrives for the weekend, his tail wags so hard, you'd think he could propel himself upwards and fly. I'd like to think that his excitement is directed at me - after all it's been at least a week since we've last seen one another. But I know better. Once he's set free, Benny flings himself out of the car and rushes right past me, and over to my neighbour's house. Behind that front door, waits Raven, a little mostly-black Schnoodle (part schnauzer, part poodle), and object of Benny's affection.
Together, the tiny terrors have learned the worst habits from one another. Raven has introduced Benny to new cuisine opportunities. While he was perfectly happy to ignore such mundane items as bird seed and his own frozen poopsicles, his canine partner-in-crime has shown him the joy of "waste not, want not". Benny, on the other paw, has taught her the art of escaping. No matter how well we cover the gaps between fence and ground, this furry Houdini can worm his way through almost anything. When the two of them are on opposite sides of the fence, Benny will encourage Raven to help him dig under it, and then he'll pull at the base of the chain link with his teeth, bracing his back legs for his one-sided tug-of-war, allowing her to burrow through from the other side. We've since allowed a space for them to go back and forth between the two yards.
As much as he loves her, there are times when Benny is not unhappy to see Raven go home. Those times usually follow a long session of her chomping on his rawhide bone, or settling into a lap which he has already claimed as his own. Once the two of them are apart, Benny is usually ready to take on one of his usual hobbies - bringing us chew toys so that we can wrestle them from his growling vice grip-like jaw, or if in a particularly charming mood, he plays Chase the Cats.
My felines are a work in progress when it comes to Benny. There are times when they can be nose to nose, without incident. There are other occasions when their mere presence triggers Benny's chasing instinct, which is quickly followed by disapproving hisses, spits and growls. I've gently suggested that Frank stop making those noises, for fear the cats will learn from his primitive behaviour, but alas, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.
Benny is doing a great job of keeping us all pretty active on weekends, since his twice-a-day walks get us out moving, no matter the weather. The small lake in the park across the street has been slightly frozen over throughout the weekend. It's just thick enough to hold the weight of a duck or a small breed of dog, if you don't give into the overwhelming temptation of allowing him to scamper toward where it thins. Benny knows what to do with water (bite the waves, of course), but he was quite uncertain about this new, cold and slippery, solid surface. His first few steps were tentative, before he busied himself by biting at the leaves and twigs buried just below the surface. I suspect that before too long, he'll be flinging himself across its icy cover for a long glide, which is pretty much how it happens when he chases my cats across the linoleum floor.
Occasionally we need to do the unthinkable, and go out for a short while without Benny. The commotion begins when he immediately senses that we're thinking about suggesting that we might want to talk about considering going out without him. Panic ensues. Pathetic cries begin to escape through his nasal passages. He senses doom. Life, as he knows it will be over. He is a dying dog. The cries turn to gut-wrenching screeches. Then forlorn howls. This is all before we have even put on our jackets. The struggle to keep him inside the house while not closing the door on our own hands or feet is near-impossible. If, by the fifth or sixth attempt we have successfully escaped, multi-syllabic squeaks will seep through from inside. If we hesitate before driving off, a quick flash of white tells us that he has taken a running dash at the front door, and leapt up to try and catch a glimpse of us through the frosty window, three feet above the ground.
I suspect he recovers quickly though. Upon our return, he's as calm as a Zen garden, having settled in nicely for a rejuvenating nap. By then he's ready to start the day's events all over again.
Once the day winds down, and all creatures are in their respective homes, Benny is near-lethargic, which for a Jack Russell Terror means that his energy level has dwindled down to that of an average tornado. With a gentle wag of his tail, he'll allow us to settle him in for the night. Like a toddler, he needs to take a toy to bed with him. He'll lie down on his blanket and give our hands a goodnight lick. Once asleep, I'm sure he dreams about Raven, ice gliding and the day when he'll get along well with the cats.
That last one might have been my own dream.
You can read more about Benny and his daily adventures with Frank over at Remaindered Random Musings.
Here are some photos taken from this past weekend. Click on any of them to see a larger image.
Raven comes calling for Benny. She often just appears at the back door, stands on her hind legs and jumps for joy. Here you can see that she's been feasting on bird seed (click photo to enlarge) from the snowy ground below the feeder. One of my nicknames for her is "Velcro."
Earlier last week, Frank went fishing near his place and caught some trout. He's been experimenting with a hot smoker, and this weekend, he brought it over to my place along with the fish. These fillets were just about ready to go into the smoker. Several hours later, they turned out yummy!
The best of both seasons come together. Colourful reds, golds and greens soak up the late-day sun and contrast against the icy water and snow-dusted grass.