One of my favorite things to do in life is hang with dogs. I think maybe my favorite place to hang with them is outside. Don’t get me wrong I love cuddling with a dog on my couch (yes the dogs let me on the couch!) but being outdoors with them is when they can be more like dogs. In the house we ask dogs to behave less like dogs and more like humans. We want them to be calm and settle down. We don’t want them digging a hole in the carpet nor do we want them chewing up our ottoman (all things that have happened to me but my house has gone to the dogs really. ). Outside is just a fun place to be with my pups. We have a big canvas bag of toys and when they see that come out they get pretty pumped! They launch into pure dog happiness. And frankly when I am out there with them I am in the moment and often I need that in my day. I don’t spend enough time in the now.
Each dog has its own personality (isn’t that so cool?) and of course each dog has its own instincts built into them depending on their breed or in the case of mutts breeds. It’s really fun to watch each one interact with me and with each other. They are guaranteed to make me laugh everyday.
Lemon is a pure retriever. She is a field lab bred to hunt. She’s also bossy and barks at me until I throw the ball. I try to wait until she stops barking and sits but it requires a lot of patience and frankly sometimes I just want to keep the ball in the air and keep things moving. She can be a blowhard. But man she can catch and retrieve well. She won’t return the ball close to me either another game we play and I work on this with her when we play alone. She’s a bossy cow!
Rudy is affable when it comes to toys. But most Golden retrievers are that way. He won’t fight for them or over them. He likes to retrieve but his drive is more laid back. Think of a sweet friend you have that likes to have a good time but doesn’t cause a raucous. Maybe he likes a quiet game of catch. That’s Rudy. He only gets his seriousness on when he wrestling with another dog. Then it’s more a dominance game and he takes that seriously. Oh and he doesn’t appreciate any other dog messing with his food. But what man does? When Rudy plays he waits his turn and doesn’t bark at me. Just gives me those sweet eyes and sometimes he likes to sit with his toy and push it around a little with his feet. He seems to have such joy when he’s doing this. I love looking at him.
Reese is a just a goofball. He’s still young and figuring out where he stands in his pack. He is not a retriever at all and has no true instinct to bring anything back to you. Being part Pit Bull and Vizsla I would have thought he would have some retrieving sensibilities as the Vizsla is a hunting dog. But he mostly just likes to carry a frisbee around in his mouth while he tries to stuff other toys in at the same time. If he could he would have a couple frisbees and a ball or two stuffed in there. Maybe this is a Pit Bull trait. As some of the pitty breeds were bred as companions and the Staffie Bull’s actually were known as the “nanny dogs” because of their great demeanor around kids. Maybe he likes to “mind” all the toys. He also enjoys digging holes and puking int the car. (its true he has motion sickness problems). He does enjoy trying to get the other dogs to play with him by prancing around and moving his head up and down as the frisbee flaps away. Sometimes he catches another dog’s interest and they will play tug with him- he loves a good game of tug.
Pierce is a Collie Australian Shepherd mix. He is a great dog but has zero idea how to play with toys. He does great with wrestling but toys are a mystery. Is he supposed to hide them? Often he does this as he finds holes in the yard where he and the pit bull try to dig to China. When you are out playing you have to be careful not to trip in one of these holes. Pierce thinks it’s fun to take a toy and drop it into a hole. He has a hiding place behind a wall that goes down to our lower level and if I can’t see him I look there where he is usually sitting with three toys he has taken. He might be chewing on one but mostly he’s into collecting. Perhaps that’s the Aussie in him? Or the collie? He isn’t a true herder and he doesn’t play fetch. He likes to have something tossed and will return it but it isn’t with gusto. It’s more for attention. He loves to run after a toy if I intend it for another dog. He will go after it but let’s the other dog have it as he tries to play with them. The other night we lost a red ball and we searched for it fir a while and I couldn’t find it in the yard at all. I turned to look in another area and as soon as I turned back around to go in -bc I was giving up finding that red ball -there it was sitting about 15 feet behind me. I think I know Mr. Pierce was playing a trick on me. The more we play outside with toys the more he begins to understand what’s up. He is a sweet guy and though initially shy with humans he is exuberant about his own kind. He is also a dogdini and he gets Reese to breakout of the fenced in yard to chase our barn cat. It is great fun for them and gives me gray hair. We installed an invisible fence around the hard fencing. It is great when it works- and isn’t Pierce so smart that he knows if its broken!? Stinker.
Like many dog families we have a small cheap baby pool in the yard (lucky you if you have a real pool!) With that pool comes the pool dance. We chase a toy a few times – then we decide it needs to be dunked into the water while we also cool off our feet in that water. Pierce is not into the pool much – maybe his breed mix aren’t water lovers – but the other three find it magnificent and enjoy dumping their toys in it. I appreciate the pool as a toy spit remover.
I love watching the dogs interact with one another- sometimes I feel like I am one with them – It is so hard to live in the moment like they do. So unburdened- it is a gift that dogs bring us. Often I am out there with them so I can live in that moment for those minutes. The dogs don’t talk to me and ask me questions or tell me things to distract me from the present. They keep my present by dropping balls at my feet. Or in Lemons case barking at me (she comes the closest to being a distracton!). I need those moments. I am really trying hard to learn to live in the present. I spend too much time in my head or doing other things that are distracting. Once in a while I am on my phone or laptop Rudy will come up and nudge my hand for a pet. I am not into rewarding nudgie dog – so I ignore the plea- and sometimes it comes again and I realize maybe he is right maybe I need to pay attention to him maybe I need to be in the moment – with my dog. I can stop doing what I am doing to fully engage with this being. I am trying to do that with all the beings in my life. When my kids were small I used to say “look at my face” . Once they looked at me in my face I would tell them what I needed to say. It is a way to connect for that instant to get my message clearly across, I still use that with my kids – teens can be elsewhere even when sitting in front of you. With my dogs I use the “watch me” command(they don’t always look at me but I try!)…maybe Rudy’s nudge is his version of “watch me lady”. Smart guy…
Hanging with my dogs in the backyard is really fun for them (it seems to be anyway!) and each one is so different. Each one brings a different dynamic to our lives. But when I am out there I am them- no I am not a dog- but I am fully there and we are a group- a pack of beings living in the moment and loving life.
Thanks for reading….