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Sheba & Athena.

Growing up our family had a dog with black curly fur named Athena. She was a mixed breed, Poodle, Airedale, and possibly Lab and Sheepdog along with who knows what else. She was very bright, and basically well behaved with the exception of occasional midnight romps through the trash. She loved doing tricks, her specialty being ‘bang’ which consisted of someone pointing a finger at her yelling ‘bang’ and then she'd dramatically flop down on the floor.


One summer my brother returned from college with his new dog Sheba, a Chow German Shepherd mix. Sheba was raised in a fraternity house and her sole goal in life was to play ball. Sheba was athletic and full of energy. The two dogs got along fine, but were quite a contrast. Sheba had blond short strait fur opposed to Athena’s long curly black fur. Athena, by this time, was a mature settled dog who didn’t show as many signs of puppy-hood that Sheba still possessed fully. At dinner time we would have each dog do a trick or two before giving them their meal. Sheba would be so excited about dinner that she had trouble completing a trick. If asked to roll over, she’d start to roll then jump up before she had completed the trick, or would run in a circle instead of rolling over. Athena, on the other hand, would patiently do her tricks as well as the ones that were asked of Sheba. We would tell Sheba roll over three or four times, and instead Athena would roll over repeatedly.


The difference between the two was also evident when I would go canoeing with them. I’d launch the canoe at high tide, Sheba would come bounding into the canoe with a tennis ball in her mouth. Then I would call Athena over, she’d get in and lay day down in the center of the boat. Sheba would go to the front and put her front feet on the nose of the canoe making her look like the ship’s masthead. Her sole focus was still her tennis ball. She’d drop the ball in the water and watch it float down the side of the boat where I’d pick it up and throw it forward; she’d wait up front to pick it out of the water. Quickly it became clear that it was important that I not miss the tennis ball or there would be a dog overboard. Sheba going overboard was not much of a challenge as compared to Sheba trying to climb back into the canoe. If I didn’t grab her right when she started to climb back in the three of us ended up going for a swim. Athena would swim to shore and wait for the boat to be righted. Sheba might go to shore to run around and play with her ball, or she might still try to climb into the capsized boat. After our swim, and the canoe had been righted and reloaded, we’d continue on down the river; excited blond dog at the bow, black dog resting in the middle, and wet teenager paddling behind.



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