We have three dogs who help us raise service dog pups. This is how it normally goes:
Tango, yellow Labrador, is the police officer – he keeps the pup in line. He doesn't tolerate a lot of silliness from the pups. He's the one I count on to put a silly, jump-on-your-head Labrador in his place.
Lily, black Labrador, is the school marm. There will be no funny business around here, mister. Life is serious. There isn't very much time or opportunity for play, says Lily. She also keeps a pretty tight paw on the pup.
Nemo, well, he's usually contributing to the delinquincy of the pup. He's the pal, the one who's always ready for a run around the yard, a game of tug, a wrestling match. He self-handicaps so the pup is always this close to winning. We call him the baby-sitter sometimes because he does such a good job of keeping the pup occupied that he (the pup) stays out of trouble.
When Ike showed up, he gravitated toward Tango. I cringed inwardly – neither Tango nor Ike would ultimately be happy with this choice, I thought. It would irritate Tango to have to continue to tell Ike off, and Ike wouldn't enjoy being told off. But Tango's a pretty good communicator – he gets his point across very well – so I let the two of them work it out.
Well, wouldn't you know: Tango seems to not only tolerate Ike, but Ike's actually gotten Tango to play with him! This is odd for a couple of reasons. (1) Tango doesn't play a whole lot. He retrieves. Retrieving is a one-dog sport. (2) Tango simply doesn't like puppies. At the risk of anthropomorphizing here, puppies make Tango wrinkle up his face in disgust. You can see it on his face, I swear.
Somehow, some way, Ike has broken through (or maybe it's broken down) Tango's wall. And it's not just about play, either. Ike crawls into Tango's bed and snuggles up with Tango. In the past, when a puppy has invaded Tango's space, I see the wrinkly, disgusted face on Tango right before he gets up in a huff and finds a different spot to rest.
Not this time. Not with Ike. I can't explain it, but I do have fun watching this new relationship unfold.
Deborah Flick says
We are all a work in progress 🙂 And, I love your post because you so clearly illustrate that each relationship is different. Each dog, and this goes for us too, behaves in ways unique to a particular relationship.
Mary Hunter says
It always interests me the friendships they pick.
The horses can be really funny about this too. I’ll think I know the roles and pecking order and where the new kid is going to stand, and then they’ll all throw me off.
Glad to hear that Ike is getting along well with everyone.
I’ve followed some vociferous debates about dog parks where some trainers swear that dogs don’t need doggy friends.
That may be true for some dogs. Others just might be choosier about who they are friends with. It looks like Tango found something interesting in Ike.
I wonder if Tango’s choice to play with this puppy will tell you something you didn’t already know about Ike?
Awwwww, would love to see of pic of those two crawled up together.
some puppies have that magic, isn’t it cool? Sarah couldn’t stand the puppy at first – but now he’s got the old maid romping and play bowing! Something I haven’t seen Sarah do in YEARS!
Good for Tango and Ike!
Laurie Luck says
I’m not an advocate of dog parks. Generally, there isn’t enough supervision and it’s sometimes not a safe place for some dogs. Your comment about finding something interesting is spot-on. The more I watch, the more I learn. Whenever Nemo *does* play with Ike, Nemo is quite rough (relatively speaking – Nemo is pretty laid back) with Ike and offers him very little “puppy license. So I’m beginning to think that maybe Ike is quite a confident and, dare I say, pushy pup.
Tango Bluffs his way through puppies. He growls, they leave him alone, end of story. Except with Ike. I’m wondering now if Ike isn’t just so confident that Tango’s normal method of operation wasn’t enough for Ike. Just seeing Tango’s interaction with Ike wasn’t enough for me to come to that conclusion, but now having another week to watch Nemo’s interactions makes me wonder…
Laurie Luck says
Apologies for the typos. I’m typing on my iPad! :0
Hypno London says
How amazing! What a special bond. WOW! Loved reading about it, thank you!