It starts with a bark so deep it could only come from Rocky. He stands on the third terrace of our backyard watching Merlin on the second terrace. Merlin stands attention and looks towards his fellow brother. I could swear I see a mischievous smile on his face. Rocky bellows again, this time more deeply. It is a call to play.
The chase begins as Merlin accelerates his pace in wild circles around the yard. Rocky follows ever the klutz, but still intent to catch Merlin. Tucker turns to see the frolic and joins in. Before long it is like watching a merry go round gone wild. Up, down, up down. Merlin stops at certain points, behind a bush or a bench, waiting expectantly for Rocky and Tucker to catch up. I can only imagine a laugh escaping from his lips. Hah, hah, you old men. Just try and catch me. They catch up ever so briefly, only to be led by Merlin on the chase all over again.
The undeniable pleasure of the dogs in the hunt is what strikes me most. Rocky and Tucker ultimately catch up with the little Merlin but only because Merlin lets it happen. Eventually each dog retires to their self-appointed station in the yard, happily spent, turning their attention to other things, like the neighbor’s dog.
When did I last experience the joy of play, running freely in anticipation of being caught by something that ultimately I didn’t mind catching me? Not all games of chase need to be dreaded; rather welcomed like the sweet ecstasy of a first kiss. There is something magical about a chase when it transports you. Watching our dogs play elevates me to a different place where for awhile I can forget the concerns of the day.
The garden stands as a background to the chase I observe each night. A bit of chaos against the beauty of nature. Before Merlin, such chaos was sporadic. He has brought flight and fancy to our setting. The plants for the most part rebound from the wildness as if to say, alright, already, I will grant you some measure of imperfection.
So, what magic and satisfaction awaits if I stop and turn to the thing chasing me? Perhaps the game is a clue to the thing I seek the most. What is it really? Can Merlin tell me?