Last Friday Shayne and Rio had a play-date with “The Spotties,” Delta and Doc. This is the fourth time that the group has, in some configuration, met and hung out (not all dogs were at every meeting). We’ve never had so much as a snark between dogs during their interactions. Doc and Delta are both stable dogs who have their own likes/dislikes in regards to other dogs (Doc has been going through some teenaged wonkiness towards other dogs recently) but are very good at canine communication.
They live about 2 hours away and we’ve met in the middle and I’ve driven up to their neck of the woods a few times so we invited them to come down to the farm near us to play. We’ve always had a good time at the farm and figured the spotties would enjoy it as well. I took Shayne and Rio to the farm to pre-game (aka flush out any game we find and let them run off some steam before having play-time). I knew they’d spend the walk mostly on leash (which is not at all typical for them) and wanted them to get some burn some steam off beforehand.
In previous meetings, we’d started the dogs off on a little bit shorter leashes and a little less space to roam. Friday, however, it was pretty much a free-for-all. Neither of my dogs are used to being leashed on the farm so asking for a LLW was difficult and after having a handful of walks together before, I was pretty confident there wouldn’t be any issues. No issues was really an under statement. Now, there were no nose-to-nose greetings but they all co-mingled and explored together from the very beginning of the walk (it was afternoon and overcast so I didn’t get any really good photos, but I got a few blurry ones!).
All of the dogs were amazing together and I must say both handlers were really relaxed (considering Doc’s teenaged wonkiness and Shayne’s issues, that’s saying a lot). The dogs had a great time sniffing, exploring, and hunting out the resting spots of either the turkey or the deer in the area. Doc was a little crazy and a little overwhelmed by all the fun but even though he was crazy and acting wild on the leash, Shayne didn’t even bat an eye at his antics.
I really think all our BAT work has done wonders for “She Who Shan’t Offer Calming Signals.” Shayne was doing look-aways, lip licks and head dips like crazy when Doc was being a maniac next to her… but she never once even had a moment of snark. The only ‘close call’ happened later in the day when Delta was dragging her leash and rushed up on Shayne’s butt (Shayne was also dragging a leash at this point)–there was only a split second of tension that was easily resolved with stellar name recognition.
At one point we let Rio and Doc run and play together since they seem like they would be a nice fit. Doc was a little confused by my noise maker but they seemed to have fun racing and chasing across the field. Delta was a little overwhelmed by Rio but even she had a moment of play with him! Shayne had two moments of trying to get the spotties to play (something I won’t let her do because IF she were to get overwhelmed it could be bad plus she is generally pretty aroused when playing and can be way intense). She play bowed to Doc and gave her hip to both spotties at one point!
Probably my favorite part of the day was a split second that would have been HORRIBLE a few years ago. Doc and Delta were about 30ft away having their picture snapped (with their leashes just sitting on the ground) while Shayne and Rio were with me (I cannot recall if both dogs were off leash or just one). Out of no where I see this blurry figure running toward me and Shayne… “OH CRAP!” I think to myself. Doc come barreling over and quite literally flattens Shayne on the ground on his way to chase Rio. Shayne ended up on her side on the ground but she did NOTHING. No growling, no snapping… she got up, shook off and that was it.
It was such a positive experience that I can’t wait to do it again! Perhaps with even more off-leash time for the pups to explore. Though I did learn that while I can recall Rio off squirrels, turkey, and deer…. I cannot recall him from playing chase. I suspect this to be because he is barking his head off chasing other dogs but is quiet chasing critters–I’m not so sure he can hear me as he chases other dogs. Gotta work on that one!
I still cannot believe Shayne was bull-rushed and leveled by a 50lb dog and she didn’t even bat an eye… no issues what so ever AND she even play bowed to them twice!!