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Cool Things Lilly is Learning from Katie

Some day, I’ll be done grieving for Katie’s loss, even though I never really had her in the first place. In the meantime, I try to glean what I can from her encounters with Lilly … because really this has been a daily learning exercise. As promised, here is a recap (so far) of what spending so much time together has done for Lilly.

Role Reversal
Until these daily, extended visits with Katie, Lilly’s only form of play (if we could get her to play at all with other dogs) was to chase them. She did a little wrestling with Katie once in a while, but mostly, she chased her during their hour-long visits.

So, imagine my surprise the other day several hours into together time that a game of chase ensued, where Lilly was in the lead, with Katie (who is much faster) hot on her tail. Then, Lilly would chase Katie before switching again.

I learned while working on this Being Brave in Group Fetch
Katie is the only dog Lilly will fetch the ball in front of. With
Ginko, she’ll play fetch with a stick when he’s around because he has
no interest in sticks. I’ve seen Katie, on the other hand, race up and
steal Lilly’s stick from the ground or even her mouth. So, nothing is
sacred in that case.

So, I was shocked when I had all three out playing fetch Monday and
when they raced up the hill, Lilly had the ball. BOTH Ginko and Katie
bounded down the hill after it, with her, and usually in that scenario
Ginko comes back with it because both girls defer to him. But, NOPE,
this time somehow Lilly grabbed the ball. She looked so proud of
herself.

Invite Others to Play
I mused once about the fact that Lilly’s deprived puppyhood before she came to live with us may have led to her not knowing how to invite another dog to play, without getting overwhelmed when they accepted.

I’m pretty sure that Lilly is learning to invite play from Katie because Katie is really good at it … clearly, or my house would not have been such chaos.

I’ve seen Lilly try her new skills with Ginko. He’s not always in the mood, but I can see she’s trying.

The question: Will she generalize?
This week’s classes are at a dog park that Lilly knows well. If there is a dog there we trust, like
KB’s labs. I might see if we can get some private playtime in the small dog pen to test if Lilly can carry this skills over into a new situation with a new dog. It might be too soon, so we’ll play it by ear, but it’s something I want to work toward.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Dog-geek - March 18, 2009

Intersting observations – I’m looking forward to hearing how things go at class. I see a lot of dogs who are happy enough to play, but have no idea how to initiate an interaction with other dogs.

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