A few weeks ago, Cali showed protective behavior when another dog at the park seemed to be interested in her ball. I wrote about it in a post that was published on Dec. 14, No More Toys.
I did stop taking the ball. We’d walk to the park, and Cali would get more and more excited as we got closer. I’d turn her loose and tell her to go play. And she’d sit and stare at me.
Day one. Fixed stare. Day two. Fixed stare. Days three, four, five … this went on for more than a week.
Cali did not play with another dog. She did walk around the park, following me, stopping every few feet to sit in front of me and stare.
Deni suggested that I bring a non-ball toy and try to get Cali to play with Ronen, Alberta’s Labrador friend. Cali watched Ronen run off with the tug toy. Then Cali sat. And stared at me.
A couple of times, there were no other dogs at the park when we got there. Cali sat and stared at me. Just the two of us, alone in a huge meadow, perfect for ball playing. I decided to bring a ball and only let Cali play with it if no other dogs were around.
Who was I kidding?
Now, Cali’s sit-and-stare-at-mes were punctuated by brief pop-ups. Up onto her hind feet, quick poke with her nose to my backpack (or pocket), where the ball was. Then pop back into her sit. And stare at me.
I was trying to out-stubborn Cali? I was delusional. Cali is very stubborn. Or, from her perspective, extremely patient.
My firm resolution softened. I decided to let her play ball if there were only a couple of other dogs there. Well, maybe if there were only four or five dogs. Or more, but not big ones. Or if they were far down the field … You can see where this is going.
So, once again, we play ball at the park.
I do stay far from the other dogs, and I put the ball away if the more rambunctious ball stealers are there. For her part, Cali is (a little) better about bringing the ball back to me. Sometimes. And she hasn’t so much as given another dog a dirty look.
I’m calling it a compromise.