One day my granddaughter, Francesca, noticed a black, curly-haired, floppy-eared, predominately Scottish Terrier romping along a freeway embankment. The puppy seemed oblivious to the dangers of rush-hour traffic. Francesca accomplished a rescue and delivered the untagged puppy to the Humane Society to find the rightful owner. By the time they arrived, they had bonded. Francesca named the dog Olive; and registered to keep her if the puppy remained unclaimed after the mandatory waiting period.

With Francesca becoming proud master of her black Olive, the dog continues a predilection for adventure. She happily accepts the leash knowing it precedes a walk or auto trip where she can claim the center console as her perch. With hind paws on the back seat and front paws on the console, Olive observes impending bends of the road and adjusts her balance and footing accordingly.

When visiting grandma's, Olive runs through the house into the back yard to engage the neighbor's German Shepherds. Fortunately, these two are safely confined to the other side of the fence. Olive races back and forth along the fence as the big dogs react from their side, sternly barking but unsuccessful in intimidating her. Our yard is wider, and Olive playfully presses this advantage. She races to our boundary, turns to observe the Shepherds halting at the end of theirs, and then reverses the run, giving them another chance to try to catch her.

When teasing the Shepherds becomes boring, Olive hones her hunting instincts, crisscrossing our yard at maximum speed. She hurdles rocks, scurries around plants avoiding the prickly ones, and takes a position in the center of a barren section where she patiently waits and watches for shadows floating across the desert floor. The shadows are usually from white butterflies flickering randomly through the air or of low flying raven whose large wing span appears sufficient take a small dog airborne should they choose to swoop down to pick her up. Olive believes a shadow is for her entertainment. She plays with it; yelping with joy as she chases the image displayed across the yard, and tries to capture it.

Francesca and her Dad taught Olive to fetch; but Olive modifies the routine to include other players. For those who trained her, she obediently brings them the ball, stick or other object and releases it on command. For the rest of us, she might bring the object and drop it at our feet challenging us to a competition to see who will pick it up first; or she might refuse to fetch it until we make a move to retrieve the object. Then Olive will race us to it, teasing us to chase her to get it back. For others, Olive brings the object to us, holding it tightly in her teeth refusing to release it; and waving her head from left to right as she play-growls while waging her tail. We noticed that these different responses are consistently applied to particular players and we've learned that we are participating in a game for Olive's amusement, not according to our wishes.

Her playfulness became a nightmare when we took Olive for an auto trip to Lucerne Valley. As soon as the door opened, she scooted out of the car, and escaped into the open desert. With her leach dragging as she ran, she pretended to be oblivious to our commands to return to the car. We don't know what she did the two hours she went missing. She was probably chasing butterflies and may have bounded after a jack rabbit or captured a lizard. This time she had no fence to set her boundaries.

We drove up and down the dirt road, furtively calling Olive as the daylight was becoming dusk. It was crushing to realize we may never see Olive again; but not as awful as contemplating having to tell Francesca that we allowed her dog to be lost. A dirty, tired, and thirsty Olive reappeared after she finished exploring. She ducked her head down and whimpered, indicating that she realized we were angry; then she jumped into the open car taking her position at the console rising up to see where we would take her next.