Play Pal

There is some adorable play going on behind me.  I was reading a fascinating article sent to me by my friend Jeanne, a true dog fanatic, about the effectiveness of human signals given to dogs to initiate play.  Gradually, I realized that I was hearing the sounds of perfect play, quite near me, and I saw that Simo, Burb, and Audrey were wrestling on the bed, with Charlotte and Giovanni popping in and out for variety.

There are a couple of things better than watching dogs eat.  One is watching them sleep, especially when they’re obviously dreaming that they’re running, chasing squirrels or tennis balls, maybe.  The other is watching them play. 

Never, never, ever will I get tired of watching dogs play.  There are so many different kinds of play, first of all, and each dog has his or her own style.  On top of that, the individual style changes according to the play pal.  Play with a much older or younger or smaller partner, or with a partner who’s simply having a low energy day, is adjusted to suit. 

For me, watching my dogs play, and observing how their play evolves from week to week, is the most rewarding aspect of dog ‘ownership’.  I get slightly embarrassed when I read sentimental cooings about the unconditional love we get from dogs, or about how this or that dog parent feels like a rock star in his home, fawned over by his dogs.  Holy Milkbones!  I don’t have these dogs so they’ll fawn over me.  I love watching their interactions.  I mourn all the years I spent as a single dog parent.

If you want to improve your day drastically, in under ten minutes, watch a pair or group of dogs playing together in a safe setting where they have room to run.  You’ll be a kid once more, and you’ll get your daily dose of laughter easily–an overdose, actually.

There, they’ve started up again.  Audrey took a running start and made a flying leap onto Burberry, and Simo and Charlotte are in there, too.  Happy happy love play. 

Here’s a link so you can properly invite your dog to the dance:

http://www.woofreport.com/perfect-petiquette/1763-effective-signals-to-entice-your-dog-to-play.html

And do notice the link at the bottom to the original article by Karen London, which gives even more info.  Both of these sites are wonderful, and I bookmarked them. 

I’ve laughed out loud at several points during the time it took me to write this.  Giovanni lay flat on his back with all four legs flopping while Simo poked and prodded him to see what he’d do (nothing).  Now he and Burb are chewing on one another, Audrey and Charlotte are wrestling, and Simo’s bouncing from one pair to the other.  P.D., self-designated combination referee and fun policeman, thinks it’s his comments which are keeping it from getting out of control.  And Sadie, who’s just learning the correct rules of the play game, for the first time in her life, probably, and who takes baby steps in this area for now, is sitting this one out and drowsing on the sofa in front of the woodstove.  Jiminy and Grace, are peaceful, too, although Jim is an enthusiastic play pal at other times of the day.  I have a feeling that Grace will be a good player, too, on her own terms, once she’s truly healthy.  Annie Belle plays only outdoors so far, where her favorite way to play–very surprisingly, considering her odd hind legs–is to run as fast as she can along the fence, outrunning the dogs trying to catch her, and then turning and faux-nipping at them like a Border Collie.

Ahhh.  Now Giovanni is darting all over the room, pausing to do play bows at Simo, who’s entranced.  I know I’ve said it before, but I love it here.

Another thing we learn from dogs--make time to play, every day

Note to self, on an entirely different subject:  Grace seems to be scorning cushioned surfaces in favor of hard floor.  Is it possible that a hard surface under her chest helps her to gack up stuff trapped in her esophagus?  Watch, evaluate, and learn.

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