Orly Meets Her Match

Two similar-looking golden retrievers smile for the cameraEver since Orly hit early adolescence, I have been looking for a playmate for her who matches her play style. (Secretly hoping that if someone played with her as roughly as she goes after Cali, that might convince her to tone it down a bit …)

I have found her!

Spirit is our house guest while her dad deals with some health challenges. Spirit is four and a half years old, but otherwise could be Orly’s clone (Orly just turned one). They look astonishingly alike, down to the identical worry lines around their same-shaped eyes. Sprit’s coloring is a shade lighter than Orly’s, and she’s a little wider in the body, but that might just be because she lacks a built-in playmate and regular hiking group.

Orly grabs Spirit's neck in play.The similarity extends beyond their looks. Their play style is identically obnoxious — basically lots of jumping, crashing into one another, wrestling, tugging on ears and neck fur, and chasing one another around the yard. Spirit particularly likes to grab the fold of fur/skin at the back of Orly’s neck and spin her around … not so different from how Orly used to try to spin Cali around by her ear, tail, or anything else she could latch on to.

They can both get deep into chewing on a bone, though, and love to play ‘tug’ with soft toys (gently so far …) while ignoring the actual tug toys. They are both very oral, grabbing things, including human hands, as a primary way of communicating. And they both have to work really hard to remember not to jump on people.

Alas, my secret hopes have been dashed. Rather than realize how off-putting her play style is, having her moves returned with interest has apparently reinforced Orly’s approach. The two of them tumble out the door in the morning and start playing, often forgetting their key mission. After they come back inside, I have to let each of them out separately so they can pee… Then breakfast: a highlight in everyone’s morning.

More play follows, ceaselessly, until they collapse for power naps. That cycle repeats throughout the day.

Cali, who was not at all welcoming to Spirit, has come around, realizing that two nutty dogs who tire each other out translates to more peace and quiet for her. Though she sometimes tires of their antics and barks at them to calm down. Or maybe she’s worried that Spirit might actually pull Orly’s ears off?

Orly and Spirit, both golden retrievers, play