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The Value of Exercise

Last Friday, when Tina arrived at the Inn and sauntered by me, I got excited; very excited! Yes, this could have been the ultimate doggy love story in the Book of Homer; but hold on; let's fast-forward to today.

Today, on the final day of her stay, Tina walked by and wagged her tail expectantly, and I thought about getting up. Then I reconsidered. I am still in immense pain! Good Lord, I didn't realize that I had so many joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons! Even my tail aches! I'm not even sure that I can make it to my food dish. This isn't the result of a May - December tryst gone bad; foolishness and faulty judgment played a major role in my problem.

"Who is Tina?" you ask? Wow, if you were a dog like me, and you saw Tina, you wouldn't have to ask. Tina came with the Fergusons, guests from Marietta, arriving last Friday to spend an entire week with us at Faded Glory Farm. Tina is their purebred black and white Border Collie; a lass that almost immediately stole my attention, and ultimately hijacked my heart. She is drop-dead beautiful! She has held my undivided attention for the better part of the week.

Colin and Maggie Ferguson responded to one of Isabel's ads in the Atlanta newspaper, offering a pet-friendly vacation environment at our Inn in the mountains of north Georgia. When they arrived last Friday with Tina in tow, they were eager to take the tour of Isabel's new heated/air conditioned pet kennel. I, in turn, was eager to meet them and get to know their fine dog. For those of you who remember, my mom, Tess, was a purebred Border Collie, but for some reason, I didn't inherit any of her physical characteristics. All of my strong, stalwart, and alluring traits seem to have come from my father, Uley, the Tipton family's handsome Yellow Labrador Retriever. If you didn't know that my mother was a Border Collie, you would naturally assume that I was a pure-bred Lab; I digress.

When Tina arrived, I went 'bonkers,' but I decided to play it cool. After our initial meeting and 'mutual sniff,' I went back to my usual vantage point on the side porch of the Inn and awaited her eventual return from the pet kennel tour. I always say, "If you've seen one kennel, you've seen them all." Now, I realize that I should have tagged along.

Unfortunately, when the Fergusons returned to the porch, Tina wasn't with them. Drat! They must have decided to leave her in the kennel while they were getting 'settled in.' It wasn't until the next day that she finally emerged from the kennel and streaked out onto the lawns to play 'throw and catch' with Colin Ferguson.

Although I have seen them many times, I have never gotten involved with a Frisbee. "Leave that to the younger dogs," was my credo. But this time, it was different. Mr. Ferguson would throw his big red Frisbee high into the air at a seemingly impossible speed. Tina would effortlessly follow it, never taking her eyes off of it, position herself under it, and then leap high into the air to catch it, all in one fluid motion. Then she would reposition it in her mouth and deliver it into Mr. Ferguson's extended hand. Watching this was more than I could bear. I was on the sidelines witnessing beauty in motion. I knew I just had to get into this game.

At eleven years old, I must admit that I really put on a show worthy of a dog of any age or physical condition. I know that Tina was impressed. At first, I watched Tina's moves and later, I imitated them as best an 85 pound (okay, maybe 90) Labrador could. I discovered that Labradors just can't leap and leave the ground easily. At the end of two hours of vigorous 'leap, chase and catch,' Colin was getting tired of throwing, and I was still able to strut proudly back to my favorite spot on the porch. Even Micah and Isabel were visibly impressed with my performance before I finally plopped my ponderous, proud and powerful body down onto the polished deck. "So there!" I thought to myself.

The Gods didn't smile on me that afternoon, and my triumph was short-lived. It's funny how quickly your body can stiffen up after extreme exercise. . . Isabel and Micah were saying that it was probably "a bit of arthritis" as they gently rolled me onto a small scatter rug, and carried me into the house at dusk. At that moment, I felt fortunate that Tina wasn't present to watch my ignominious journey to my dog bed in the kitchen foyer. Isabel and Micah were tender, and caring, but frankly, that didn't help my ego one bit. Since they really didn't seem too worried about my condition, I didn't worry either. But I was so sore, that, at the time, I really just wanted someone to shoot me.

For the remainder of the week, I made sure not to chase any Frisbees; I spent some 'quiet time' lying beside Tina on the porch; and there, I was able to further impress her with my calm, relaxed demeanor and charm. I was very relaxed . . . Okay, I admit that I slept a lot!

From my favorite spot on the porch, I watched Tina and Mr. Ferguson play 'throw and catch' with that red Frisbee several times during the remainder of the week. Each time, my body began to ache just witnessing their efforts. At the conclusion of her exercise each day, Tina would bound up the stairs to the porch and hydrate at my personal water dish, walk by, give me a 'smile,' and join Colin Ferguson for a walk in the woods. Try as I might, my muscles just wouldn't answer the call!

I'm sorry to say that due to my physical difficulties this week, our relationship at this point still remains purely platonic, and I was devastated to see her leave. I hope that Isabel places the Fergusons on her preferred Christmas card list this year. I'd like to have them back. Tina is welcome to visit here anytime! Be still, my heart!

© 2010-2011 David Johnson, All Rights Reserved