Thursday, July 31, 2008

She's still a baby, really.

I always forget how young Cersei really is. She is so amazingly laid back and sweet - completely unlike your average young Labrador - but she's only 10 months old. Like, she's kinda scared of thunderstorms. Linux had such overwhelming fear issues that I worry, too much, about Cersei's temperament. Is she AFRAID of thunderstorms? Will she become totally neurotic about them?? Oh no!

But really, she's only experienced like 5 big scary thunderstorms in her life. They're probably pretty scary if you don't know what's going on. I deal with it by giving her a few pets, telling her it's ok, and then acting completely unconcerned. I don't want to reinforce her fear by calming her down too much.

And she doesn't really like to play with other dogs. I know she knows how to play - she's done it a few times - but she doesn't usually play. I was delighted last night when my parents told me that while she was with them, she'd played with their (also kinda crazy) dog Rags, tugging on a rope toy with him. And today SHE PLAYED at the park!

At 4:30, as usual, we headed over to the unofficial offical dog park. It sure was cloudy when we walked to the truck. And oh boy, it sure did rain a few times on the way over. But it'll be fine, right, and besides Cersei knows where we're going and I can't disappoint her!

Yeah, it started pouring down rain as I turned into the park. I stepped out of the truck and immediately got very very wet indeed. I threw the ball. Cersei ran to get the ball and bolted back. It thundered. I thought about the factors: I get completely soaked. Cersei gets exercised and has fun. And Cersei learns that sometimes you can have fun while it's thundering. So we stayed.

Two other dogs and their people showed up. One family from West Memphis, AR, with a really kinda ADHD year-old Lab/Pit mix, and this one asian gay guy with a well behaved intact American bulldog. The dogs all did their usual thing - Cersei chased the ball, the mix chased her, and the bulldog supervised the proceedings. The thunder and lightning and pouring rain continued.

The family left, so I hung out for a while and talked to the owner of the bulldog. I'd put the ball in the truck, so Cersei and the bulldog just kinda roamed around while we talked. Then, amazingly, Cersei initiated play with the bulldog! They sniffed faces for a bit, then Cersei backed up and play-bowed, then she jumped away and looked at him like "You gonna chase me or what?" He did, a little, and she ran, a little, and they both seemed to have a tentative good time.

I'm so very happy. I really do think that she's going to turn out a-ok. She's about halfway between dominant and submissive, and she does know how to play, and she's really just a baby. It's ok if she doesn't want to wrestle and play-bite with a whole pack of larger older dogs. She'll play when she wants to play, and she's a little timid but she's a baby.

My dog's gonna be just fine.

She's snoring on the bed beside me right now. A tired puppy is a happy puppy.


  1. Is Cersei your first girl dog? In my experience they are MUCH more selective about their playmates than the boys. Tilley will play with the occasional intact male, but all others are snarled away. Willow would play with boys until she hit two, and then it was all work all of the time -- she has no tolerance for any dog interfering with her and the ball. Both of our boys will play with anyone, anywhere, at any time.

  2. Oh really?

    I've had (in my lifetime) three neutered male dogs and one spayed female. All I've definitely been able to say about female dogs so far is "Man they're easy to walk on a leash because they pee where they need to pee, not in the last five spots other dogs peed."

    I am constantly wondering, though, how much of her behavior is because she's female and how much of it is because she's an individual dog. Cersei is somewhat possessive about her toys, but not really. She will snarl and snap if another dog tries to mount her, but as soon as the other dog backs off she's back to normal.

    It's really interesting to think about her gender as an influence on her personality. Thanks :)

    I see you understand the importance of the ball. :)

  3. Funny, that. We've fostered 30+ border collies over the past five years, and I would argue that gender is hugely important to canine personality. My pet dogs will ALWAYS be girls -- I find them to be more mature, more serious and more focussed. Goofy dogs are not my thing. In fact I prefer to work with females of most species (humans included) -- horses too. I always owned geldings until Raven, but rode many mares when I was eventing. They tend to be more down-to-business than the boys.

    And yes, the ball can convince any of our dogs to do just about anything. Dogs who don't play fetch are a mystery to me.


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