It’s really fun to watch two animals play together. They seem to have a rhythm, knowing what to do and when to do it. If one does something the other doesn’t like, it’s communicated clearly, in a way that expresses their desire, without judgment. No grudges held or lingering resentment, no baggage left to deal with on a subsequent encounter.
On Sunday, we had the opportunity to take Raegan, our friends’ dog, on our weekend walk. Grace normally runs a lot on our walks, up and back, up and back again, and all around us on the trail. But with another dog around, there is even more energy abounding. It is interesting to watch.
Raegan is a one-year-old silver lab. She’s sweet, strong, and like most labs, she loves the water. I was nervous when we neared a small reservoir and she ventured out on the ice. We called her back. She came. Whew, thank you, Raegan. Can’t tell you how much I did not want to find out how cold that water was.
I know that all dogs don’t get along. But I do think they have a way of communicating that is very clear, especially when humans aren’t around to misinterpret. Their messages may be subtle, but they are effective. Animals are more inclined to watch for nuances and signals that we humans have to be hit over the head before we see it or hear it.
My last post was about being ignored. And as was noted in the comments from that post, matters get worse when we don’t address them. Grace and Raegan weren’t always side by side, but they never ignored each other either. It seemed they always knew what the other one was doing. They had a blast being together on their walk. But it didn’t mean they always agreed on how to play or what to do next.
Raegan found her puddles to wade through. Grace jumped over the tree limbs, just like we’ve done in agility. Sometimes they ran together in circles, one instigating the other to run faster or further. And sometimes Grace said, “Enough!!” with her front paws and low growl. Raegan understood and abided.
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone on the team understood their own personal style and needs, along with the needs of others — and then were able to communicate those things clearly and with respect for all?
Watching two dogs play can teach us a lot.