Friday, December 09, 2011

The battle of the bone

When I wrote about Levi on his birthday last summer, I told you about the bone game he plays with Kim's dog, Oliver. Here's what I wrote then:

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. 

In action once again too fast for the camera, Levi grabs the bone and returns with it to his home base. Levi scores! Ollie, sensing that he has been duped, immediately jumps up next to Levi, beginning the next round with a strategic move known as  "feigning indifference."

And the game goes on.


  1. I'm still tee-heeing and smiling.

  2. Dogs have personalities just like humans. Often opposites get along better than those that are very much alike.

  3. This was fun! I bet it's LOTS more fun to watch it in person!

  4. Levi's face is so expressive, I can see how you fell in love with him! I can't believe they haven't lured Lucy into this game...

    I, being the horrible dog mom that I am, would by them several just to watch the confusion... Knowing full well that only ONE would do!

  5. Cute pictures, Linda... Made me smile!!!!!! That bone is very very important to them--kinda like some of the things which are important to us!!!!! ha

  6. Having watched this game in person, I know how entertaining it is. I love it when Ollie hides the bone someplace he thinks Levi can't get to because of his size, yet he always manages. Great post, Linda.

  7. Ruth, that's the best thing about dogs: they almost always make us smile.

    Sister-Three, do they EVER have different personalities! While these two are playing, two others retreat to separate dark rooms. I guess it's a question of self-preservation.

    Janet, we never get tired of watching them do this.

    Holly, it's the expressions on their faces that make this game so funny to watch. You can look into their eyes and see the wheels turning as they plot their next move. As for Lucy, she would never resort to a rowdy game like this, especially with these two guys. She looks at Levi as if she thinks he's disgusting, and she doesn't have much use for Oliver. She does love Butch, though, and will cuddle up next to him in a heartbeat.
    Also, we have put a second bone into play, and they ignored it, just as you predicted. It's about the game, not about the bone.

    Betsy, the bone itself isn't as important as having the bone--or, as Charlie Sheen would put it: "Winning!"

    Annette (Writing My Novel), I'd forgotten that Ollie and Lucy were here the last time you visited. I'm glad you reminded me that you saw the "young boys" in action.


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