Chapter 3—The Super Great Outdoors
Now, speaking of neighborhood dogs, cats and errant squirrels, our little buddies began meeting a host of friends and some foes; although, with their good natures, they had very few foes. What foes they had, could, with a little persuasion, be turned into friends, given time.
Gizmo was the first friend they met in the neighborhood. He was a tall Australian Shepherd-Boarder Collie mix and, as you might expect, he had a love for chasing balls and things. This is a very exciting quality for a little dog like Fritz, who also loves to run and chase things, so they became fast friends.
Rocco, on the other hand, made friends a little more slowly and from a distance, perhaps because he is small and easily stepped on, but also he is less guided by utter trust and unbridled acceptance, as is Fritz. From a hundred yards off, Fritz will see you, and know for certain in his little heart that you will be his best friend and you will love him, and he will run straight at you across those hundred yards, staring directly into your eyes the whole way, while smiling his sweet, wide little canine smile, his puffy brown tail trailing out furiously behind him, until he reaches you and he stares up at you, wildly hoping to be lifted up to kiss your face, or at least that you will bend down and pet his chest, and let him sniff your breath.
Sniff your breath?!? I know, I know, it sounds a little strange, but Fritz is a connoisseur of smells. If you will let him, this is his favorite way to say hello. And if you’ll open your mouth, he will take a long, deep sniff, assessing and analyzing and discovering untold mysterious things about you, things that you likely don’t know about yourself, but don’t worry, he won’t tell anyone, except maybe, just his brother.
Rocco takes just as much delight in this kind of greeting as Fritz does, and possibly the two will discuss their findings among themselves, after you’ve gone, of course, so as not to embarrass you, because they are polite little dogs after all.
The next neighborhood friend they made was Pookey, the cat that lives next door along with Gizmo. Pookey ran from Fritz and Rocco and this was absolutely wonderful, and by far the very best thing she could possibly do, to make them love her.
There were few things in their puppy lives that were as joyful as chasing Pookey, and she didn’t have the same nasty and somewhat dangerous habit of turning on them with pointy claws, as did their cat companion Aslan, who lived with us all in our own home. No, Pookey didn’t fight back, she just ran, and on one occasion Fritz was even able to catch her and pin her for a moment, before she squirmed away and fled frantically into her house.
It was the only time either Fritz or Rocco had ever actually caught Pookey, and the moment was swift and fleeting, but it had made an indelible impression on their young minds, and the possibility of a recurring opportunity filled them with hope and desire. Ever since then there hasn’t been a time we’ve passed Pookey’s home, that they haven’t run straight to her door and waited expectantly for another chance to catch her.
Even better than that though, was the time they found a somewhat injured squirrel in the groundcover. I promise, the squirrel wasn’t badly hurt, he probably only stubbed his toe on a rock as he was hiding a nut under the leaves, but he was caught off-guard when Rocco and Fritz discovered him hiding in the plants. I believe at first they only intended to say hello, and inquire if they could offer assistance, but well, when the squirrel fled in a crazed and haphazard way, it really was too much to ask the puppies not to give chase. And when it was apparent that the squirrel’s stubbed toe slowed him down quite a lot, Fritz saw the opportunity only typically offered to him in really good dreams, so he intensified his pursuit.
The squirrel zigged, and then zagged, and ran circles around the driveway with Fritz in hot pursuit. The squirrel spun, and Fritz spun. The squirrel leaped and Fritz leaped. And Fritz caught him! Again, for only an instant, but long enough to fill his little soul with such satisfaction and elation, and fill his mind with memories never to be forgotten, and it gave him a story that would be the envy of many dogs, even those much bigger, older and stronger than he.