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The Seal Who Played with Dogs – The Dog Lovers

Butch was my seal. Or so I fantasized, and bragged to my grade college pals. His origins, age—even his true intercourse and identify—had been a thriller. However he was actual. He wore a light collar that had change into painfully tight, creating a hoop of uncooked crimson flesh, like a ugly necklace he couldn’t unclasp. My very own, childishly romantic concept was that he had escaped from a touring circus. It was the Sixties, and his adopted house was close to our dock, in Lake Sammamish, east of Seattle. Oddly, Butch’s presence felt regular for us.

Butch was stunning, plump but glossy, his darkish kind gliding effortlessly and phantom-like slightly below the lake’s floor. His pores and skin had spots like silver {dollars}, and his whiskered muzzle jogged my memory of a canine’s. I’d watch, transfixed and jealous: his head gently breaking the floor, nostrils exploding with exhaled breath, darkish spherical eyes scanning my world earlier than silently slipping again to his personal. To be so weightless and swish! Heavy and ungainly on land, he was elegant and agile in his watery component.

Canines had been as essential to Butch’s wellbeing because the lake fish on which he dined. Canines had been his playmates. His favorites had been Spot and Tar, giant mixed-breeds with easy names that aptly described their look—one shaggy white with occasional black spots, the opposite all black. They lived close by.

In my thoughts I nonetheless clearly see them taking part in: The canine tempo backwards and forwards on our dock, signaling and ready. Spying them, Butch stealthily swims underneath the dock, underneath them, establishing his second. Spot and Tar crouch with tense anticipation. Then, with an explosion of pace, Butch breaks the floor, simply inches beneath them, shocking and titillating the canine into paroxysms of spinning and barking, simply past the attain of their mouths, earlier than he slips again underneath.

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Spot and Tar preserve a frenzied focus, leaning perilously over the sting of the dock, tails wagging furiously in circles for steadiness whereas barking excitedly as Butch teases from beneath, actually brushing their noses along with his, diving again down for a number of seconds to extend the stress, then breaching like a Sea World performer, slapping his tail fins towards the floor with a powerful whop that drenches the canine and the dock with the splash, leaving us all…breathless. Again and again, this sequence, with little variation, for so long as thirty minutes per session.

They performed frequently over time, to the apparent delight of all concerned, particularly me. It was nearly as if they knew when it was playtime, as a result of the canine had been not often stood up. I’d watch with intent stillness from a distance, for as quickly as a human approached, the present ended with Butch swimming silently away.

Hardly ever, a canine would fall off the dock and into the water. Butch would gently seize them by a hind leg, briefly pulling them underneath earlier than releasing them to swim to shore. Butch by no means harm a canine. I believe he simply wished them to swim with him, be like him, be taught to play like a seal within the water. Butch certainly was lonely, the one seal within the lake.

I felt a kinship with Butch. We each selected canine as our favored and most trusted playmates—out of necessity for Butch, easy affinity for me. I by no means uninterested in watching them play. Butch’s belief of Spot and Tar grew to the purpose that he would seashore himself whereas taking part in—exposing an nearly lover-like vulnerability to them. He selected effectively, as a result of whereas they’d bark from inches away, they by no means harmed him. They performed with him in methods all of them agreed upon.

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I’m grateful Butch and the canine allowed me into their distinctive and transcendent world of play. They taught me to disregard assumptions and overcome bias in interactions with animals and with folks. I realized that play is the frequent language throughout species and throughout cultures. I proceed to marvel at scenes of various animal species taking part in with one another, discovering their frequent floor, speaking their playfulness and lack of aggression.

We people can be taught a lot from canine and all the animals with whom we share this planet.

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