I just got back inside from taking the dogs out. It’s cold today, 22(f) but with a strong wind making it feel more like a biting 7(f). Usually, when it’s this cold, the last thing I want to do is let them play out there. But they’d been good and done their business in short order, my strategy of making them wait a little longer paying off, so I thought I’d let them play.

Unlike Sarah, Buddy and Emma are both runners, so they’re on retractable leashes whenever they’re outside. You’ve seen these leashes – the kind with the plastic handle and long, thin rope leash. Those leashes are kind on our backs, especially when walking a dog as big as Emma; even when she gets out to the end of the leash, there’s a little elasticity to the rope.

Today, though, there was mayhem. Buddy and Emma tumbled and growled, sprinted and dodged, leaped and crashed. The whole time they’re doing this, their leashes were winding around their limbs and bodies; I aided in the detangling process by constantly untwisting the leashes at my end. It occurred to me that I’ve become a puppetmaster to dogs.

Emma had a running frenzy, going “crazy dog” as we call it. Usually, she careens back and forth within the confines of the leash’s length, her body low to the ground and her long legs splaying out beneath her. It reminds me of the sprints we used to do between orange safety cones in gradeschool, running erasers back and forth. (Do they do this in every gradeschool?)

Today, though, instead of tearing back and forth, she went went clear around me, three times. Buddy followed two of the turns. It happened so quickly I wasn’t able to follow around with the leashes, and soon I was roped tight as a maypole and laughing my head off, all alone in the middle of my yard.

The dogs are the true puppetmasters after all, or should I say puppymasters.

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