Levi's best pal is Oliver, who has been willing to race through the backyard with him since Day One. Though about one-fifth Levi's size, Ollie is the alpha dog. He established that at the very beginning of their relationship, and Levi clearly understands it still. Inside the house, the two of them play mind games, mostly centered around Levi's very large Nylabone. Each dog feigns disinterest in the bone while the other one has it, but the instant the possessor drops his guard, the other dog steals it and runs. The game is an elaborate one, involving much skulking, hiding behind furniture, and approaching stealthily from the rear. Kim and I should probably keep score, but we're too busy laughing at them.
The game continues as enthusiastically as it was played in the beginning, perhaps even more so. Levi has learned from Ollie and has become a better match for him. The two have different styles. Ollie is the champion of ballsy moves, while Levi relies on stealth and vigilance. There is no fighting in this game, no bared teeth or growling. Despite all the trickery and deceit involved, the game is conducted in a spirit of sportsmanship.
Last night's play was so intense that I was able to leave the room and get the camera without disrupting the game. Here's the play-by-play, picking up as I returned to the action:
Levi has possession of the bone, but he's worried because Ollie has his eye on it.
Levi shifts position. Ollie does, too, staying off to the side and waiting to catch Levi off guard.
In a move too quick for the camera, Ollie lunges, grabs the bone, races across the room and slides, home base and all. He is saaaaaafe and he scoooooores! In a demonstration of fearlessness and dismissal, he turns his back on Levi.
Levi is left waiting on his side of the court. He waits, watches, looks sad. This game is so hard.
But hold on! Ollie has just abandoned the bone because his mother has called him. (Interference?) He's only two steps away from it when Levi leaps off the sofa and dashes across the room.
And the game goes on.