So my church had a picnic today to welcome our new pastor, and they chose to have it at the very park where I normally take Murphy swimming.
And because I haven't really taken him out and done much with him lately, I brought him along when I went.
For a while, he was content to sit off in the corner, his leash staked down with a screwdriver, while I sat and talked to other people and when to get food. A few little kids stopped by to pet him and one or two offered him a bit or burger or hot dog, but for the most part he was out of sight, out of mind and content to stay quiet. He's not really a social animal even these days, and he basically tolerates strangers more than he genuinely wants to be around them. Double for little kids.
His attitude changed towards the end of the picnic though when I went back to my truck and got his cherished swim toy out. As soon as I walked back and showed it to him, his eyes lit up and he leapt to his feet. I unclipped his leash from his collar and he ran excitedly right to the riverbank; he knew what was coming next.
I whipped the toy far out into the river, and with a huge splash, he hurled himself in after it. This naturally got the attention of a few kids, and their shouts of amazement as Murphy swam out and grabbed the toy brought others over. By the time he got back to the bank, there was a dozen little kids there shouting for me to throw it again. I did, and Murphy repeated the performance to their screams of delight. Soon there were over twenty little kids there, all cheering him on and yelling "Go Murphy!". The freaking dog literally had his own pop-up fan club there as the kids all shouted encouragement and called their parents over to watch. Of course several of them asked me if they could throw his toy too, but I had to tell them all no, because Murphy is really obsessed with his toy and when he gets excited, he's not above bum-rushing whoever is holding it and trying to snatch it, and he really doesn't care if it's me or some little girl or boy half his weight. So some little kids were a bit disappointed, but it didn't deter any of them from standing there by the bank for about twenty minutes watching him perform and cheering him on loudly enough to be heard clear across the river. And when I finally put an end to the game to rest Murphy (since he won't rest himself in situations like this), the kids swarmed him with so many burgers and hot dogs that he was hard-pressed to polish off the last few. Needless to say, he didn't need or get any dog food tonight when we got home. And in true Murphy fashion, he walked right over to our new pastor, who was conversing with a couple of other members, and he shook himself dry right in front of (and all over) the man.
Way to go, Murphy. Now even the new minister knows who you are.