I don’t know if the cooler weather has anything to do with it, or a recent visit from one of the girls’ favorite aunties, but Jana and Cali have been very playful lately.
Each is playful in her own way.
As a younger dog (uh, princess), Jana played hard and liked playing with the big boys. Labrador boys. Or golden retrievers. Occasional other breeds but her reaction on seeing a Lab or golden, even from a block away, was joyful excitement; other breeds were generally greeted more warily. She’d get to know individuals and decide that certain of them could have her attentions. She’s like that with people, too.
Now, as she ages, she prefers gentle play. Tug with me or a (very few) special friends, whom she will approach, tug toy in mouth, and invite to play. Catch, if the again, specially selected, person gently throws the ball to her, she will either catch it or nose bump it back in the person’s direction. The person’s job is to get it from her or catch it and toss it again. She especially likes playing this game in the water.
But Jana’s all-time favorite recreation is rolling: Rolling in grass, especially if it is so freshly cut that the mower is still working. Best of all if it turns her green. Rolling in sand is also excellent, mostly because that means we must be at the beach. Mud is pretty great, too. Jana has has a lifelong goal of becoming a black golden retriever.
For Cali, of course, the only game in the world that matters is tennis ball. Frisbee will do in a pinch. I don’t call it fetch, since that is rarely what happens. (The bringing it back part, I mean … there is something about the “retriever” part of their name that eludes both girls).
Cali rarely plays with other dogs, except her sisters, Dora and Alberta. She will occasionally play with a smaller dog. Like Jana, her reaction to large dogs of other breeds is wary avoidance. Also like Jana, she’s more interested in meeting other golden retrievers and some Labradors, usually the smaller, calmer ones. Unlike Jana, Cali rarely warms up enough to play with them.
When she gets into a good game of running after her ball and sometimes bringing it back but usually just hanging out with it in the middle of the park, she gets a good drool worked up. She’s developed the unusual talent of drooling onto her own head, as the photo shows. She usually soaks her feet, too. The tennis ball gets a pretty thick coating too, mixed in with dirt and who knows what else. I know that dogs don’t sweat, but Cali also seems sweaty when she’s been running. And of course her feet and legs and tummy get covered in mud (as well as drool). Her messiness is a reliable measure of how much fun a play session has been.