On Sunday, we decided to go with some friends to a local winery.  They were planning on heading down the wine trail, but we decided to stop after just one. 

That morning, we had all gone out onto the trail for a good hour+ hike on the snowy hills.  Cosette enjoyed herself and we threw plenty of sticks for her as she ran trailside.  When we returned home, she followed us with great interest around and around the house as we all got ready to go out to the winery.

We had LG with us - no babysitter available - so I agreed to stay outside in the pleasant weather with LG and Cosette while Joel stayed in the tasting room with our friends.  This particular winery sits upon a big hill, and at the bottom of the hill is a large pond.  When I first exited the car with Cosette and LG, one of my friends who had only met Cosette once followed us to the grassy knoll.  I had brought a tennis ball - and when I say tennis ball, it should echo in your mind with great fervor and splendor, with a beautiful ringing tone, just like it does for Cosette.  Tennis ball?  Tennis ball?  Do you want to play TENNIS BALL?!  Each syllable should be enunciated, with each pronunciation lilting higher than the last.  Right before I throw the ball, my pitch is so high that I think I might shatter glass...TENNIS BALLLLLL?!?  It drives Cosette bonkers and gets her hyped up like a proper Lab should be.  My friend watched in amazement as I hurled the ball straight down the hill and Cosette tore after it with reckless abandon.  We began making our way down the hill as she started to return with the ball in her mouth.  We arrived close down by the pond, and she dropped the ball at my feet.  I flung it into the water, and she bounded into the pond, all Lab energy bursting and stretching and moving.  My friend turned to me and proclaimed, "She's beautiful!  I can't believe she goes in the water like that!  Wow!!  She's just amazing!!  Look at her!!"  I shrugged off his comments like, "Yeah, well, she's a Lab and that's what they do!"  Meanwhile, my heart was singing inside.  After I've been around her for nearly 2 years, her boundless enthusiasm for her TENNIS BALL!? was a little, oh, routine for me.  But to watch her perform through the eyes of a person who is rarely around dogs, let alone big dogs, was thrilling.  I always cherish my dog, but this left a warm glow between Cosette and I long after my friend decided to venture up to the tasting room.

I threw that ball over and over and over again, watching her joyfully jump into the water with intent.  I later raced her up to the top of the hill - she won - and sat down so I could be near LG.  He was busy burying his Transformers in dirt.  I was initially going to scold him, but seeing a four-year-old messing with his two favorite things:  Transformers!  Dirt! was just too sweet.  I sat nearby and kept a watchful eye on him as I played with Cosette.

I kept throwing the ball downhill as far as I could, and Cosette, beautiful baby, would run after it, jumping over whatever was in her path so she could bring her jaws to a satisfying close around that TENNIS BALL!?.  We must have played like that for an hour.  Occasionally I'd let her take a rest, but she was so insistent that I throw it again that I indulged her retriever fantasies.  Over and over again I hurled that ball down the hill. 

There were people sitting drinking wine on the deck nearby, and although they were conversing with each other, all their eyes were on Cosette.  They couldn't stop watching that dark flash of beauty, all muscle and sinew, all pure joy and happiness, just enthralled with catching her ball one more time.  I wonder if her world happens in slow motion when she's retrieving; I know mine does.  She moves at warp speed but it's as if my perception is slowing her down, savoring her every move. 

After we returned home that afternoon, she slept as hard as she did when she was a puppy.  Sleepily moving from room to room, she kept us all in sight, but was content to lay by me while I worked.  Her soft snoring and the flittering of her paws led me to believe she was having just as good of a time in her dreams.  I couldn't stop staring at her soft head and droopy ears, the rise and fall of her ribcage, the soft line of her tail.  I finally wore her out, and it was so beautiful.

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