The Reason for the Season

Ava 3 months after arriving at DD

Ava February 2010 

Ava February 2010

Ava February 2010

I love Christmas. Its a time for sharing, for giving, for finding time to tell the people you love how very much you love them and how much they mean to you.
Growing up, I was obsessed at this time of year with ‘Whats in it for me?’ and now that I am grown and know better, I have found out, as most of us thankfully do, that the biggest and best gifts come from us giving of ourselves…..because they actually reap the greatest rewards.
A few years ago, Pete and I decided that we wouldn’t buy each other huge fancy Christmas gifts that we a) probably couldnt afford and b) probably didn’t need. We would keep our gifts to each other small and instead spend the money on helping a last chance dog at a shelter that would have no chance of ever being adopted for reasons of health, behaviour or whatever. As many of you may know, we always have a foster or two here and part of your spend here at the ranch goes towards that, but this was different, this was to be a diabolical case that required over and above the usual commitment.
Well, no sooner had we made this decision than I heard about a dog up in the Animal Shelter in Jackson County which, for now, is run at Commerce Animal Hospital until the County get their own facility. I saw horrific pictures of this poor, older dog; riddled with mange, skin and bone, eyes all puffed up with the worst allergies I had ever seen, and she had been brutally used as a breeder dog way past when she should have done, by a puppy mill, who turned her out on the streets to die once she had such poor malnutrition she couldnt produce any more. Found wandering on the streets of Jefferson in sub zero temperatures, this poor old girl was destined to be put to sleep the day after she arrived at the shelter as she looked so awful and was so poorly there was no fixing her.
BUT…and here it is………. one girl, Sarah up at the shelter saw something in this dear old dog and held her over for a couple of days, hoping to find anyone to take her on and at least give her a few days of comfort in a warm home before she died. She contacted the rescue I work with, Gracies Place, who emailed me the picture and Jake my son and I rushed up there before it was too late, deciding we would do exactly that, and even though Dr Phillips at Commerce Animal Hospital warned against it and said she wouldn’t make it past a day, we brought her home….ostensibly to die in comfort.
I have never seen such a sad dog in my life. Completely disconnected from everything, Ava had never learned love from a human hand and had never known anything but mating from other dogs.
We tried to make her comfortable those first few days, gave her the softest bed to alleviate the pain from her sores, and really just waited for the end to come, not asking anything of her but showing her using very hands off techniques and pure body language, that she was safe and could relax. We fed her foods rich in Vitamin C to boost her immune system and made fresh stews and doggy casseroles every day to tempt her into eating. Because she was so thin, thankfully she ate everything we gave her and I do believe this saved her life, because a few days turned to a few weeks and then all of a sudden we saw that she was looking a little better, that her skin seemed to be healing a little.
The real breakthrough for us came about six weeks after we got her, when I walked all of the other dogs down into the woods, but decided to leave the door open and see if she would maybe come out on the deck to investigate. Wearing her little coat (she had no fur to speak of to keep her warm) she wandered out on to the deck, down into the woods and went up to our dear Levi and sniffed him. Then followed him around for the next half hour, sniffing the trees and bushes, and really starting to explore her new home. She came up to me, having not even made eye contact with me for that whole six weeks, and sniffed my hand, and I about burst into tears…Pete and I were ecstatic and knew that she had reached her turning point.
From there, Ava went from strength to strength…we had setbacks on the way, her allergies were appalling and even the drugs didn’t seem to help that much, her hair took so long to return we thought she would be bald for the rest of her life, and it took us about three months before we could even feed her by hand. (With dogs like Ava, hand feeding is a really useful thing to do as it connects the dog to you in a very primal way, they need food, you give it, they understand your importance in their life in a very real sense.)
We determined to let her enjoy her new found freedom as much as possible and would take her and Freddie and Levi up to a wonderful parcel of land in Flowery Branch every day to give them a break from the guests, where they could just be themselves and have fun. She surprised us one day by whooping and hollering on the way up there in the car like a kid at Christmas…Ava’s Mojo had arrived!
We couldn’t put Ava up for adoption until she was fully healed; each time she seemed to be making headway, some new allergy would bring her down……. we truly discovered new meaning to the term ‘seasonal allergies’ with this dog. So, she stayed with us, while we underwent some pretty traumatic times, always there, quietly just cementing her position in the pack, then we moved over to the ranch 15 months ago and decided if she was going to be here long term it was time she rolled up her sleeves and got to working. Just until she got adopted, of course….
So, Ava became our ‘hyperactivity dog’ and we started partnering the wild and crazy lunatic dogs who wouldnt settle with this little ‘rock with legs’, and lo and behold, they would calm down. We started using her with the odd aggressive dog and her cool indifference to anything new and irritating led most dogs to stop and take stock of the situation rather than lunge and bark the place down. We used her with puppies, as a breeder dog she had obviously had at least five or six sets in her lifetime, and turned out to be excellent at moulding and shaping the pups who come to stay at the ranch…she really enjoys this work, it brings out a sparkle in her like nothing you’ve ever seen.
In short, the bloody dog made herself so useful that when someone who came to the ranch for an evaluation asked if she was up for adoption, Pete and I found we couldn’t do without her and told them firmly ‘No’. Then looked at each other and laughed. This little girl had come so far it was really quite incredible.
Today, those of you who have been to the ranch will have met our dear Avaroo, as we call her, she’s always right there when we do an evaluation, letting the newcomers know how things are done at the ranch and teaching by example.
She may be nine or ten years old, but she runs and plays like a puppy these days. She adores Freddie, the true love of her life and follows him around like a lovesick schoolgirl as they dig tunnels together, chase squirrels togther and whip the puppies into shape.
Everyday, she is so quietly thrilled to see us and has such a deep gratitude in her that it spurs me on to want to do more and more for dogs like Ava. While we can’t adopt any more dogs as we now have seven, she is the very reason behind our dog food drive this year…in us giving to Ava, we received the most amazing gift in return, greater than any love or happiness I could have gotten from that BMW I’ve always wanted (I’m still willing to see if it might make me happy tho, LOL), better than any jewelry or techno product we could have received.
Her face, so rapt with love when she looks at us, even though she still hasn’t learned to be very demonstrative like the others, is all the proof we need that there was oh so much life in that old dog yet.
She was the Christmas present we gave ourselves that took almost two years to fully unwrap and boy, do we love her!
God bless you all and have a merry Christmas.
With love from Pete, Penny, Joe and Jake, Nelson, Simba, Freddie, Levi, Noodle, Steve and of course…Avaroo!
Ava (fondly now known as Cousin ID) plays with Hank from the Jail Dog Program (Nov. 2012)

Ava (fondly now known as Cousin ID) plays with Hank from the Jail Dog Program (Nov. 2012)

More observations on anything and everything

More eye popping observations from Aunty Pen

More eye popping observations from Aunty Pen

Your dog is not planning world takeover…your cat, however, most definately is. Just watch the movie ‘The truth about cats and dogs’…it’ll tell you all you need to know.
Nothing mends a sad or broken heart as quickly as a great dog and a tub of cream cheese frosting.
Chocolate drizzled popcorn is genius. Whoever discovered it deserves the Nobel Prize.
Your dog CAN tell the time….just try serving dinner an hour late!
Your dog CAN count too….take three cookies, give him two and watch him wait for the third to come.
Christmas is incredibly stressful until you put the tinsel to the back and the people to the front.
If you want to make something accessible to your great dane or weimaraner, put it on top of the fridge!
The most beautiful, perfectly wrapped gifts under the tree will be personally inspected and opened by the official canine gift inspector…anything that was shoddily wrapped, he’ll leave it alone.
People that ask for giftcards miss the point…….buy them nothing but a bible stories book.
Small dogs CAN suffer from Napoleon complex…..just like people can.
I never knew what amazing gravy was until I came to America and someone showed me the use of evaporated milk. WOW!
Seeing the world from your dogs height level can make a huge difference in your understanding.
Not all stress for your dog is bad…stepping outside of our comfort zone is of course uncomfortable, of course challenging …… Yet, its how we learn to swim, how we learn to drive and how we learned to ride a bike as kids. Dogs are often no different and can feel a huge sense of accomplishment.
A dog needs a set of reindeer antlers like a fish needs a bicycle.
Twice, our family dogs have stolen the Christmas turkey before we all sat down to eat. Once was my sisters dog, once was mine. They were the best Christmasses ever, and we still talk about them!
The happiest Christmasses we ever had were the years we had little money.
Inviting one needy stranger into your home over Christmas will fill your heart more than any gift you could be given.
Anyone who loves to use big words where a short one will do is in love with how he delivers it, and not the message itself.
The bottom of my Christmas tree will look like jerky before Christmas day, no matter how many buckets of water I put in the tree holder.
The nastiest Christmas tree can look amazing with a thousand lights……when the sun goes down!
My friends house will always look better decorated than mine.
Its the time of year when you get the true meaning of the phrase ‘unconditional love’….You spend all your weeks planning, saving, buying, cooking and cleaning for the big day, and who’s the only one looking adoringly at you despite not getting a gift?
My big pack of dogs dont care if I wear make up, but Im a far more confident leader for them when I do.

Observations on anything and everything

Aunty Pen shares some thoughts with Papo and Freddy

Aunty Pen shares some thoughts with Papo and Freddy

All the nice things to eat make you fat.
Exercising your dog like a demon for an hour every day makes him far less of a demon the other 23.
A well behaved polite and friendly dog will still be adored by your friends even if he’s ugly.
An ill mannered dog who is a pain in the ass to be around will be thought ugly by your friends, no matter how good looking he is.
Everything savory in the fridge can be greatly improved by a tub of queso cheese.
Your food always looks better to your dog than his own…..
The higher the meat content in your dogs bowl, the stiffer the poop.
Dogs need good friends, just like we do……..
Everybody’s personality is far more riveting when you add a splash of tequila.
You can deftly end any boring phone conversation by loudly screaming ‘No, No…Oh My G……….!’ (I do it all the time….)
Poop within half a mile will end up on my boots.
Celery is boring and must be banned as unfit for human consumption.
Johnny Depp doesnt really want a rail thin stick insect for a wife…hes a secret chubby chaser. I just know it!
Dogs can tell the difference between chuck and filet mignon.
The best friends in life to have are not the ones who laugh at your jokes… they’re the ones who tell you when you re not really very funny.
Its hard for my kids to live up to my dogs…but they’re trying, bless ’em!

The indomitable spirit and slight craftiness of Levi Miller

Levi has been pulling our leg for years

Levi has been pulling our leg for years

Dogs fascinate me, as you have guessed……..
I spend all day watching their every move, watching their interactions with other dogs, humans, trucks, bicycles etc…the only thing I don’t watch and have no expertise in, is a dogs reaction to a cat, as cats are banned from the ranch…..for their own good of course!
I remember years ago writing a paper for my diploma in canine behaviour and psychology and answering the question as to whether dogs experience human emotions, in particular jealousy, with the answer that dogs aren’t capable of jealousy and that to attribute such an emotion to a dog was just anthropomorphic (attributing human feelings to another species or thing). I got an A plus for that paper, the scientific evidence gleaned from all of the text books I had read impressed my tutor greatly and she told me I was right, bang on.
Ten years, and about 2000 dogs later, I’m here to tell you that I was wrong…very wrong in fact. Dogs have a full complement of emotions, an incredible sense of self and an immense ability to manipulate our emotions too. It’s what makes them so special, and so perfectly matched to become mans best friend.
Three years ago in June I was up at the shelter in Gainesville working on one of the dogs that was so hyperactive she was unadoptable. As I took her into the pen to work with her, I knew this dog was going to need an ‘anchor dog’, or as we sometimes call them, ‘a rock with legs’. Kelley Uber Sterner up at the shelter suggested I use Levi, or Lee as he was called then, in run 29 as he was a sweet natured dog and super calm.
Levi was one of the Mississipi dogs, brought to the shelter after the Mississipi facility he was in was closed down, the staff had left, there was no food, no water and there were 400 dogs living in a shelter built for 60. Of those that survived after Animal Control came and raided the place to set the dogs free, Levi was one of the lucky ones. Riddled with heartworms, mange, skinny as a rake and just a poor sight, even when I met him, after the shelter staff had done such a great job on saving him, this boy was just happy to be alive. The shelter in Gainesville had agreed to take a bunch of the dogs to save them, and the rest were distributed to other shelters around neighboring states. Thank God they did or I would have missed out on one of the best teachers I have ever met….
I brought Dot home with me that day to let her run in our woodlands, and Levi accompanied her as they had done so well in the pen, Dot really liked him and calmed around him. The next day, when I went to take Dot back up to the shelter, I looked at Levi’s sad face and thought I would let him stay home with me for just one more day. One more turned into three, then a week, then a fortnight and by now he was growing his hair back (I have a special diet for mange and it worked wonders on him) and starting to feel pretty good. I hand fed him to forge a trusting relationship, I leash walked him every day as he couldn’t take too much off leash exercise, I bathed him with a special tar shampoo, I rubbed his sores with tee trea oil…I just wanted this dog to have a nice break from shelter life at Penny’s little dog resort.
We had five dogs already though, so I was no way going to keep him. Right?
Even though he was a shelter dog, Kelley agreed to let me try and find him a home through Gracies Place rescue so that I could do a home check myself, and pretty soon some great prospects came up. As I sat and told my husband about the home check I was going to do later that week, Levi was under his desk looking at me. Peter asked me if I thought Levi was fit to leave yet and I told him yes, he had just been romping for an hour in the woods with Freddie and the gang and looked great. Pete asked me again if I was sure about this, then looked at Levi, and said to me, ‘I think he limped earlier today’…and then giggled sheepishly. I knew it was bull then and there, the dog had never limped at all, but Pete was kind of liking having him around……
I looked him in the eye and said a very firm ‘NO’, that we were not keeping Levi, we were struggling financially and had five dogs, and this was just not going to happen.
At that very moment, and I swear this is the Dogs Honest Truth, Levi got up from the floor and walked across the office, with a VERY BAD LIMP! Neither Pete nor I are dog trainers, we could never get a dog to limp if we worked with it in a million years, so theres no way Pete taught him the art of ‘fake limping’ behind my back.
I thought maybe I was mistaken and that Levi had pulled a muscle, so I told Pete that Levi could stay til his leg was better, then he had to go to a new home.
As the weeks passed, I often caught Levi running like a puppy in the woods, or splashing in the creek like a kid, but as soon as he saw me looking at him, out came the limp in full force. I took him to the vet who said there was nothing wrong with him, I rested him, I massaged him…the limp, it seemed was here to stay.
Until one day, Pete sat me down and told me how he loved Levi with all his heart and could not bear to part with him. He was so good wth the puppies we had staying, he was great with fearful dogs, he was wonderful with the thunder phobics…So I said yes.
Pete and Levi had a little dance, did a little fandango on the deck and I noticed Levi wasnt limping then, though he quickly remembered it when he saw me looking at his front leg. The next day, we sat down and had a little ‘Come to Jesus’ chat with Levi (I do it with all the dogs, you may think I’m nuts) and told him this was home, he had to do chores every day, but this was home.
He never limped again!
I promise you that this is true, can be verified by my neighbors, by friends; honestly, I didn’t believe this was possible til it happened to us!
Levi works full time at the ranch, with the fearful dogs and the puppies and helps them to acclimate to the new environment in a calm, gentle way. He takes them under his wing as if to say ‘I got this, dont worry’.
He has personally saved the lives of at least twenty dogs that I can think of with his cool, easy demeanour…dogs that were so fearful they had turned aggressive have been swayed by his easy charm, and I learn from him every day. How to approach with cool calm indifference, how to let dogs know its okay without smothering as so many humans do, how to say hello and chaperone a puppy whos had no exposure to other dogs, he has been the ultimate teacher for me in how to work with a fearful dog and he never got a degree or read a book on the subject.
He plays the ‘injury card’ every time he feels he’s not getting enough attention; he understands innately how other dogs see him and responds approriately…making himself small for a fearful puppy, puffing himself up for an annoying one; he is the companion to the less mobile older dogs and sits out on the deck with them so they look like two old duffers playing cards and telling stories about the old days. He romps with his pals, he sits nicey with humans. In short, hes the perfect dog and all we could ever ask for in a friend and teacher.
The genius of Levi is something that rocks our world every day. We saved him and he saved us right back!
 

Max decides its time for change

Max decides to join the party

Max decides to join the party

We have a rehab client here at the ranch this week called Max, a 4-year old maltese Shih tzu mix, who is here for work on his severe case of neophobia.
Neophobia is a terrible affliction to have when you are a species that loves to explore, to chase, to taste, to sniff and to live free…it is, basically, fear of the unknown, the different, anything new.
I met Max a few weeks ago when I went to his home to consult for his family on the behaviour of him and his sister Sammi, who his mum called me about when they terrorised a beach vacation this summer and made the family too embarassed to go back!
When I went to their home, both Max and Sammi ‘owned’ the doorway, barking furiously at me, asking me how I dared to walk in to their home. I knew first off that this wasnt normal territoriality, as they kept up a steady stream of barking for three whole hours….this was based in fear, real fear, for each of them of a very different kind, that ate at these dogs’ very core.
I gave the family some very strict instructions as to how to manage things short term, in terms of diet, exercise and leadership, but asked them to bring Sammi to the ranch first for some work here, and Max would come later.
Sammi was here for a couple of days last week and we worked on some of her social issues with both other dogs and people…the work will be ongoing but its a very solvable case.
Max came three days ago, and as soon as he was dropped off and his mum drove away, he went into complete shutdown. Now this does happen sometimes and we are used to dealing with these issues as thats our job….what was so strange for us was to see that some time later, Max was still in a state of shut down and wasnt able to get himself out of it, as most dogs do.  I realised that this dog was suffering from neophobia.
Afraid of other dogs, people he doesn’t know, new places, new smells…Max exhibited all of the hallmark signs of a dog petrified of anything new. He panted despite cooler climes, his eyes were wide, he circled, paced and shrank from the approach of humans.
Under normal circumstances, I would have had his parents there to perform a handover of custody, in order to facilitate an easier transition, however, I’m sure his Mum won’t mind me saying that she was a very nervous mum, anxious as to what he might do, and also certain that Max would not succeed in a new environment because she knew what a tough case he was. Obviously, dogs buy in to our perceptions of them at all times…I myself have no preconceived ideas about what Max can do, though I had met him before, so it made sense for Max to be handed directly over to me and for his mum to go…..
In these circumstances, as with most issues here at the ranch, we allow the dogs to take their time and do what they feel they can, on the first day. If they are more comfortable in the top yard, fine..if they want to sit by the doorway, fine…if they want to be inside on the couch looking at all the action outside, that too is fine. I’m very fond of saying that we ask nothing of them until we form a relationship with them and the dogs trust us to help guide them through the minefield that is life in a human world to a dog and honestly, its true.
I have a hard time taking direction from anyone, but someone who I know has my back? Oh yeah, I’ll follow them til the ends of the earth….Dogs are no different.
Very often, we use dogs to help dogs here at the ranch, however, Max had dog issues and so we had to really use our own body language and communication skills to earn Max’s trust. It took him 3 hours to approach us under duress (we needed to put him up) and the first evening he refused his dinner. The next morning he refused his breakfast and I warned his mum that we may have to send him home that evening if he didn’t eat. We want the dogs to be in tip top health when we work on them…
Poor Max stood on the sidelines watching everyone having fun, so frightened to step out of his box and let go…we made sure he was taking care of his needs (drinking, elimination etc) but it was almost painful to watch him so frightened to even take a step into the meadow, because it seemed so huge to him.
Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is nothing…sometimes you just have to be patient and let the dog work it out, while you stay in the background and watch his back, ensure his safety both emotionally and physically but thats it.
Max had a light bulb moment yesterday afternoon, 30-hours into his stay, when another dog came close to him, the puppy we have here this week, Bailey…he sniffed him, didn’t shirk from the contact and then half followed the dog as he retreated. It was just what we were looking for….from then on, the hurdles were being jumped every hour.
He approached my husband and sniffed his nose.. he came to my lap and allowed me to massage him, then jumped up on my lap to ask for more massage…then he allowed us to hand feed him and actually ate everything!
At each point we finished as he looked like he had had enough…we can never overwhelm a fearful dog, but this morning, when I went to let everyone out after a good nights sleep, he was supremely happy to see me. He ate his breakfast and sniffed around with the other dogs, not at all concerned by their presence. This was going to be breakthrough day, I could feel it!
At ten AM this morning, Max Maynard decided he had had enough of always being in the shadows; he grabbed the bull by the horns and decided to join the other dogs down in the meadow…he raced down into the meadow, sniffing, circling and enjoying himself immensely, right in the company of other dogs, close as can be..and he loved it! Then he did it again, and again, and again…as if he was just a puppy again.
I was so happy to see him acting like a dog, I cried… and I’m so glad we were patient and let him make this decision himself as he needed to do.
The best things in life will always surely come to you, but sometimes you just gotta learn to wait for them….

But…. they’re having so much fun in the photos on your Facebook page !

Hoss enjoying life at the Ranch

Hoss enjoying life at the Ranch

It never ceases to amaze me how many parents will carefully visit pre school after pre school trying to find the most caring, loving environment for their childs pre school education; they will look to see how happy the kids are in the playground and take that as a huge factor in their decision. If the kids look happy and balanced and have a great relationship with their teacher, thats the number one choice.
When it comes to their dog, however, their criteria sometimes is completely the opposite.
They look to send their dog to a very ‘serious’ establishment, where the dogs are over powered and ‘shown who’s boss’, very often wrestled to the ground by the trainer, or shock collared in an attempt to knock the ‘insubordination’ out of the dog. The dogs cant wag their tails or bark because….well, that shows a lack of deference and respect for their human leaders doesnt it?
Hmmmmmm, anything strike you as completely out of whack with this scenario?
I had a family call me last week, referred by their local veterinarian, desperate for help with their dog who is somewhat aggressive towards other dogs [their words not mine, Ive yet to meet the dog] and I asked them, as always, to check out our website and the facebook page so that they can see how we do things and what kind of experience the dog will have here.
A couple of days later, I had not heard back from them and called them to see what they wanted to do. The lady readily admitted to me that they were in talks with another ‘rehab’ facility because they had been on our facebook page and it looked like the dogs were having ‘too much fun”. Their other option was a place that first puts a pinch collar on the dog the moment they walk in the door, and teaches the famous TV dog behaviourist adage…’calm submission’.
Now dont get me wrong, I believe that theres a place for very stringent methods of dog training if the dog has exhausted all other possibilities and is an extreme danger to other dogs or humans; I just dont believe that theres a place for it in 9 out of 10 cases.
Dogs learn best vicariously and experientially…like humans, they love to have fun. Also like humans, with dogs, play is practise for life. Simple as that.
Dogs tousle and chase, cower and pounce, strut, cavort, growl and bark all as part of learning how to handle themselves should they ever need to call on behaviours in a certain situation. Owners are very often annoyed when I tell them I will not be tolerating ‘hard wrestling’ here between dogs and tell me that their dogs love to wrestle each other to the floor. I quickly point out that we don’t allow it because when dogs are faced with a serious situation, the thing that theyve practised most in play is going to be the first thing that naturally comes to mind in order to deal with it. We dont want them to wrestle their way out of a dangerous situation, do we? We want them to learn how to look away, yawn [a calming signal], walk away or as a last resort ‘fool around’, which some dogs do to lighten the mood and play the class clown..often diffusing the situation completely.
We can never place enough importance on the use of play and completely unobstructed interaction with other dogs when rehabilitating a problem. Play teaches the dogs when to stop, what offends and what doesnt, how to interact naturally so that other dogs can read their intent and also, its plain good fun.
Kids that play well tend to grow up to be bright, sunny individuals with a keen sense of right and wrong and an instillled sense of teamwork and sharing. With dogs, those that learn to play appropriately can have the door opened to all manner of learning opportunities in a very real sense.
This week we are working on a dog whose issue is his fear of men; he’s fantastic with other dogs, great with females, but put him in the presence of a man and he cowers and growls.
Pop quiz…is the best way to deal with this behaviour to get a man to wrestle him to the ground, yank him on a leash, and show him who’s boss?
 Or do we think maybe allowing him to build a relationship thats totally unthreatening and loving with one man, then another, then another, might just open the door to his realm of possibility that men arent all threats?
Best way to build a relationship with that man? Through play and respect.
This week, that particular dog, Hoss, is paired up with the  dog closest to my husband. He and Levi are sleeping under my husbands desk between play times, my husband is feeding him in a very remote way [Hoss has issues around food and men combined] and when Levi comes to my husband for love, Hoss follows him and asks for a cuddle too. Already, Hoss is far more attached to my husband than he is to me and I couldnt be happier. Early next week, my husband will introduce him to our son who has learned the ways of asking nothing from a fearful dog, then it’ll be certain handpicked individuals from then on, in different settings. All nice and slow, unthreatening, and totally when Hoss is ready for it. Yes it takes longer, but like any good relationship, you cant rush love and respect; it has to build through time and experience.
Hoss is having a blast playing with lots of different dogs, who all come to my husband for love and affection when he calls them. Lesson to Hoss that first day? They trust this guy and seem to like him, maybe Ill give it a shot too!
 Then, when he has had enough, back to some feel good play to break the tension of getting out of his comfort zone. Twenty minutes later, he’s ready to go for it again, and so on and so on.
All play is valuable, most of it, when appropriate, is life saving skills being practised in a non threatening environment. Never underestimate the importance of having a good time with your dog, and of his having a grand old time with other dogs. The doors it can open in your relationships and his are boundless.
Have fun out there, today!