Friday, February 12, 2010

Dog Play!

When we adopted Simon, our Aussie, from a rescue almost six and a half years ago, he never played.  He refused to fetch a ball - he might run after it once, but he never would pick it up.  He'd turn and look at you like "If you wanted it, why'd you throw it away?"  To this day, he remains uninterested in balls or plush toys of any kind.

After about 4 years, he eventually learned to play tug of war, but never *ever* with a human, only with another dog, and only very rarely.  About 2 or 3 times a year I would catch him playing tug of war with Callie, and it was always brief, even though I praised him and did what I could to let him know this was good behavior.

Simon *does* like to wrestle though - but Callie really didn't, so he found an outlet with foster dogs (especially Jasper!) and at doggy daycare.  He does love to play the growly wrestle game - and actually this last summer he and Jasper drove me nuts playing late at night, early in the morning, and basically allllllll the time.  They never seemed to tire!  I know Simon missed Jasper when he finally got adopted.

When Maisey came, she didn't want to play with Simon at first - she is shy around other dogs.  Then she did try and get Simon - and Mollie - to play with her, but she liked to slap her paws on their heads and generally bat at them until they just about clocked her as opposed to engage in play.  When she did get Simon to play, it was clear they had very different styles!  Maisey was fast and jumped over, under and around Simon so fast he could not keep track of her and play the game enough to make it fun for him...or her. 

After about a month, Simon and Maisey have managed to find some games they can both play and enjoy.  They have modified the wrestling game to one they both like a great deal.  Even better, Maisey has somehow talked Simon into tug of war - often, and with nearly any toy!  She will bring it to him, wiggle it at him, and beg until he grabs it - and then they growl at each other, tug, pull - and eventually destroy!!  It's actually great for both of them to have a play buddy.  Tonight ancient Mollie even joined into tug of war for a minute, with three dogs on one rope!  Very cool!

I have tried (and failed) to get some good photos - but they are action shots and I tend to get blurry or red eyed photos.  One of these shows a good tug game, but Maisey and Simon have the tail of a toy in their mouths so close together you can't see it.  The other photo shows Maisey smiling, happy as can be, after about an hour of play....and Simon happily enjoying the spoils of his victory on Mollie's bed behind her!

It is going to take the whole family to give Maisey enough exercise, so I actually really appreciate Simon's help!  Though he is at least 10 years old now, his energy levels are great and he still loves to play.  Now that he and Maisey have fun together, it's obvious they are happy to see each other when Maisey and I get home from work.  Simon has less anxiety now that he has Mollie to keep him company during the day and not just the cats.  He also has more outlets for his energy that are constructive. 

Since you never know when you bring another dog into the family how the pack will adjust, it's great to see that after a month, Mollie and Simon are really enjoying Maisey's toys....AND Maisey herself!  Unfortunately, the older dogs try and teach Maisey all their bad habits....but she is such a smart little girl I remain optimistic that with proper training, she will learn right from wrong despite the influence of her new siblings.

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