Loki is a good and obedient puppy. He does well at puppy school and if you throw a ball at home he fetches nicely and brings it back. But when he enters the forest he changes. Out in the wild he yearns to be top dog, and that is easily accomplished. All he needs to do is find a good stick. With the stick in his mouth he is king of the world, and nothing else matters. He prances around with his tail in the air, showing off the exquisite piece of dead wood that has magically transformed him into the master of the universe.

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Playing fetch does not work under these circumstances. Once he has the stick, his sole purpose in life is to hold on to it. Luckily he can be convinced that there is another stick superior to the one he is carrying at the moment. The trick is to pick up a stick and pretend to be really excited about it. This way at least he gets some exercise. But sometimes it brings on existential questions about which stick to choose.

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The stick also makes him into a rude and unsocial dog. Other friendly dogs pass by wagging their tails and sniffing his behind, but Loki only cares about his stick. The other dogs might as well be invisible. If they chase him, he is convinced that their intention is to steal his precious stick.

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Loki’s preference is for large and sturdy sticks. Not just any little twig will do. Sometimes he gets in over his head, by becoming obsessed with large branches that he can barely carry. As we walk he struggles to keep up, carrying his burden with a mixture of pride and desperation. Once in a while he puts the stick down but as we keep on walking he whines unhappily and picks up the stick again.

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And sometimes the stick of ones choice is simply too long to carry alone. But what are friends for, if not for helping you in your time of need.

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