Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving me the run-around

I’ve said before that dogs are always studying us closely, picking up on things we don’t even notice about ourselves to help them determine if “good things for dogs might happen.”
Here’s a cute example of how my dog turned the tables on me, using his observant manners to train me and modify my behavior.
I call it the run-around.
This might be a topic for another blog, but I enjoy two games with my dog that most people hate or say shouldn’t be played at all — chase and tug. (I can just hear the jaws of the anti-pit bull peoples’ mouths hitting the ground, thinking about my defenseless, girly-self playing such dangerous games with a pit bull, at that!)
Think what they may, I look at the games as another good outlet for my dog. Plus, they make him smile and I love seeing him smile and look all happy.
Anyhow, the chase game has been going on for years. In the old house, he used to run circles around the couch. I’d run half way in one direction, then turn around and head in the other. He’d do the same, and we’d repeat this for a couple minutes until I tired out and sat down.
He signals the start of this game by running up to someone with a toy in his mouth, doing a play bow and then taking off in the opposite direction as fast as he can.
At the new house, the couch is against the wall so he chose a new circle — around the TV. This is a very small circle, and from very early on, he’d sometimes bolt down the long hallway toward the bedrooms and see if he could get me to follow.
I usually did not.
Sensi is most playful after breakfast and again after dinner, but the morning play routine is definitely more energy-packed. On the weekends when I’m home in the morning, I put forth a good effort to play with him and try to relieve some of his extra energy.
Also on weekend mornings, I do laundry.
Sensi began following me back to the bedroom, where I generally sort, fold and hang up all the laundry, with a toy in his mouth. Once or twice, with laundry basket in hand, I’d chase him back down the hallway.
He really liked this.
In fact, he liked it so much that he began making sure whenever I walked down that hallway, he was at my side with a toy in his mouth, ready to be chased back down the hallway. He’ll sit and wait patiently for me to finish whatever I’m doing, be it hanging up clothes, folding towels, etc.
A few months ago, he tried something new on me — instead of running straight back down the hallway, he went into the bedroom across the hallway from ours, through the jack-and-jill bathroom connecting it to a second bedroom, then back out in the hallway and towards the living room.
This has now become a daily routine, beyond just laundry-time.
Once, twice or more times a day, I chase him from the living room to my bedroom, then from my bedroom through the other bedrooms, back out into the hallway and again to the living room.
It truly is the run-around because it circles pretty much our entire house.
I have to laugh at the thought that Sensi totally created this game, shaping my behavior from first getting me to jog after him while returning from the room with laundry basket in hand to what has now become a multiple-times-a-day jog around the house.
The funniest thing about this chase game is, it really doesn’t matter who is chasing who or whether one of or both of us have a toy in possession.
In my next blog, I’ll explain why this really doesn’t matter and perhaps, just perhaps, I can change some peoples’ opinions regarding the merit of chase and tug games.

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