Chapter 2—New Beginnings
Spring is a time of new beginnings. We have all felt the excitement and joy of anticipation for warmer weather and longer days coming soon. For Fritz and Rocco it was also a time of growth and discovery.
Rocco had found his voice much earlier than Fritz. In fact, for months, perhaps longer, Fritz never made a sound. He watched his brother with interest when Rocco would bark at some unexpected noise, or growl at the neighbor’s dog, Lucy, who came uninvited into their yard to smell the shrubs, and ‘water’ the lawn. Rocco’s growl was like a little lion’s—a very little, little lion.
And his bark came in tiny bursts, short staccato outbursts, in groups of threes or fours. This was his song: it began with a low murmuring, barely audible, and grew into a full throated growl, and the growl terminated in a crescendo of stabbing barks. He was a maestro, with themes and variations on this pattern, but all of his utterings were signature Rocco. None lasted very long, mere movements, a phrase or a line, but never a symphony. If he were a poet he would utter limericks or haiku, never epics.
Fritz was the silent partner. But one afternoon he found his unexpected voice in a most surprising way. Fritz is a spinner. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen a dog that can spin such tight circles, so swiftly as Fritz can, and if you have seen this, you’ve probably become very dizzy as you watched them. But when Fritz plays, he has to spin, he can’t help himself. He hears some kind of music in his head, and when the music plays, he just has to dance. But it isn’t just a dance, it is also a sport, like Judo, or Karate, or most especially like Capoeira, that rare and beautiful blending of martial arts, acrobatics and dance.
Fritz spins, stops, dodges left and quickly right, then spins in the opposite direction, and bounds across the room, leaps onto a chair, spins, turns and leaps off the chair, briefly touches the floor and propels himself up onto the couch, stops, looks left, looks right, and somersaults onto the floor, landing face to face with Rocco. Rocco looks bewildered. What just happened?! Before Rocco can collect his wits enough to begin to growl, Fritz spins again, round and round and round again, in quick succession, and then he stops and…he coos.
Yes, he makes that same fluttery cooing sound mostly associated with pigeons or with doves. Fritz looks around to see where the noise came from, Rocco looks also, then they look at each other for a moment, and Fritz coos again. Rocco steps back, unsure what to do next. Fritz understands now that he is responsible for this new and unfamiliar sound so he does it yet again. And then he spins and stops and coos one last time.
Over time Fritz learned to turn his cooing into more of a hollow howl, and then ultimately into a true dog bark. Even so, when he gets excited and begins his special dancing, he often includes his unique cooing as accompaniment, saving his barks for other things, such as neighborhood dogs, the cat next door, and errant squirrels.