This post is entirely about dogs and dog related topics. If you are not a fan of dogs, or simply do not care, you will be bored. You have been warned. Even though I’m not sure how that is possible.
Today Toby and I had another doggy playdate with our friend/client. I’ve worked with this woman, we’ll call her Mrs. Awesome, and her dog, “Cutie,” for 12 weeks now. The first class she and her dog were in alone, so we had a lot of chance to talk and hang out. She is so much fun to talk with and work with and so good with her very timid shelter dog (even if she doesn’t think so), so we’ve started to hang out outside of classes. This was doggy playdate number two.
We meet up at the Edmonds off-leash dog park, which happens to be on a beach. Neither of our dogs care too much about other dogs, nor the water, but they both do like to explore. My little man feels the need to lift his leg on every.single.rock/bush/piece of driftwood, even though after about the second shot he’s empty, Cutie will just wander a bit away and come right back. While we’re there we chat away and try to get our dogs to play with the other dogs. Cutie also has a history of having been punished for playing with/chewing on any objects in her previous home (the toys were all for the other dog), so it has taken time for Cutie to be willing to take something in her mouth.
Today was awesome.
Toby went in the water, oh yes he did! There was a seagull of some sort floating a few feet into the surf, and so he carefully picked his way out to try and get to it. Of course, the bird could simply casually paddle its way into deeper water and Toby wasn’t going to follow it (though he thought about it) but he actually chose to go out in it! He then came back, with his undercarriage and legs sopping wet, and spent the next hour romping through the sand and dirt, doubling his weight with the said substances. At one point we climbed up to an area I hadn’t been to which was flatter and had dirt instead of sand, so Toby could get a better purchase for his tiny little legs, and he ran and played with a few other dogs! Kind of with them. His short legs don’t give him much purchase, so it was more of a following the other running dogs 5-10 feet back trying to keep up thing, but hey, it’s all good!
But Toby is a brave dog. Lucky little guy has a trainer for a mom, and a trainer for a breeder, so he was heavily socialized and positively exposed from a very young age.
What was really awesome was Cutie’s strides.
Cutie ran with some other dogs. She’s still not sure quite how to actually play with strange dogs, but she gave it an honest try. And at a few points she did kind of play!
Cutie then found a stick and brought it to Mrs. Awesome. Huge in and of itself. She not only picked up a stick in front of people, she brought it to one of them! And then, Mrs. Awesome grabbed it..and Cutie TUGGED. This seems like nothing for most dogs. But for Cutie, who would not pick anything up for months, and even then would drop it the instant anyone else approached or reached for it, this was so big! Mrs. Awesome could even throw the stick, and Cutie would run after it and bring it back.
Which leads me to her next big accomplishment, Cutie chose, of her own volition, and very knowingly, to go in the water. Mrs. Awesome carried the stick back to the water and tossed it a couple feet into the surf. The water was only a few inches deep, but before Cute would.not.approach. By the end of the hour and a half she c a r e f u l l y would pick her way in to get the stick and bring it back, so happy to have made her mom happy!
So that was just hugely rewarding. I love, love, LOVE watching dogs come out of their shells! She’s learning how to be a relaxed, happy dog more and more every day :-)
On a side note, when we got home Toby got a bath with his new oatmeal shampoo (he shakes and scratches a lot, I switched to see if that would help) and it is AMAZING. It pulled the sand out of his very-fine-and-easily-matted fur. And his white fur gets stains on it from his dog tags: when I put him in the bath his chest was black. His old shampoo would lighten it, but nothing got it out. Now? Pure white again. :-D
And then, and then, Toby had a big breakthrough. I put him in his crate…and he stayed there..without anything to do…without whining. Most dogs do not have a big problem with crates. Most even love them, or learn to. Shih tzus..tend to hate them. And Toby HAAAAATED them. So we’ve been working for months now to get him crate trained (required for any type of competition, dogs are crated between runs). Today I stuffed a shiny new stuffable toy I bought yesterday with wet food, and gave it to him in the crate. He licked and licked and licked, getting it all out…and…I forgot about him. Busy cooking dinner. He usually gets a KONG, and when he’s done he whines to come out. But today, sleepy from his morning at the beach, comfortable from all his training, he just stretched out and waited. It was probably 10-15 minutes before I let him out. Our previous record was 3.
So I got cocky and tried again a few minutes ago. This time with no stuffed toy. I put him in with his favorite ball (this is his security blanket. He cannot sleep without it.) and a bully stick (know what a bully stick is? Well, how’s this..there are bull(y) sticks..but no cow sticks…*cough*) and left him. Slowly moved from next to his crate to my chair. And he sat and nommed.Once he finished the stick..rather than whining to come out…he started playing with his ball. YES! After a little over 10 minutes I let him out, before he wanted to come, so it stayed positive.
It was a good, doggy kind of day. All this plus a new client? Yeah. Good day :-)