Learning to Play

When I spoke to Willow’s foster mum before we collected her I asked what toys we should buy for her, only to be told, ‘She doesn’t really play.’ The first few days seemed to bear this out but then I realised that she became a different dog when she was let out into the garden – racing around like a mad thing, tail wagging furiously so I decided to try her with a tennis ball.

The first time I threw the ball Willow just watched. I didn’t realise that Cat was nearby, however, also watching, so I tried again. This time when I threw the ball, Cat ran after it and Willow, following her terrier instincts, promptly chased Cat who retreated up to a safe height to watch from the shed roof. That was all it took, the next time I threw the ball Willow chased it and retrieved it and gave it a good chew. I’m not sure it does her canine credibility any good to have to be taught how to chase balls by a cat…

Terrier on leavesAfter a couple of days we were playing with the ball and I noticed Cat was sitting on the shed roof watching. The next time I threw the ball and Willow retrieved it, Cat ran up the garden after Willow. When Willow realised what was happening she dropped the ball and turned round to Cat who promptly ran up the nearest tree. Unfortunately for Cat the nearest tree happened to be a very small tree and she only got about three feet above the ground. There was a brief pause while Cat held on to the tree looking down at Willow who was sat patiently on the ground next to her. Needing to get out of her current undignified position, Cat promptly let go of the tree and jumped down. Straight on top of Willow. Using Willow as a springboard Cat shot across the garden and up onto the fence on the other side, followed closely behind by Willow. She then sat on the fence for the next little while watching Willow and I resume our game of fetch.

Willow is very good about having the ball taken away from her to throw again. Several times now we have taken her out to a local playing field so that she has lots of space to run around in and chase the ball. The field is popular with local dog owners and often there are other dogs there. After her initial distrust of other dogs, Willow has now decided that she loves to a) run and b) play and will try and encourage any other dog nearby to play chase with her. If there’s a tennis ball involved as well then that’s even better. Luckily all the dogs that we have met so far have been friendly and only too happy to oblige her requests for play. For a small dog she has quite a turn of speed on her and can keep up with the bigger dogs. It’s great to see her out running around and enjoying herself so much.

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