I took Charlie to a dog park in Phoenix today. It was surprisingly large and relatively well kept, although there was a nasty area of wet mud on one side that Charlie just had to lie down in. We were there for about 30 minutes and during that time, there was anywhere from 10 to 20 dogs of all sizes in the enclosure with us.
I watched with fascination as Charlie fetched balls and then played with the other dogs. After having him for only about seven weeks, I realized that he likes to play just four games:
- You can’t catch me. This is poetry in motion. He gets a dog (or two or three) interested in chasing him and he runs away. He’s pretty fast. But what’s interesting is that he’ll match the speed of his fastest pursuer so that he stays just a few feet in front of him, just out of reach. If the dog behind him speeds up, he speeds up, too. There was only one dog in the park today that could catch him. It should come as no surprise that he was likely the same breed or mix of breeds. I should mention that sometimes he gets other dogs to chase him by grabbing a ball or something else they might want to play with.
- You can’t get past me. In this game, he corners another dog against a wall or in a corner, usually with a small obstruction like a bush or a tree trunk between them. The other dog tries to get out of the corner, but Charlie darts in front of him. This goes on for minutes sometimes, with the two dogs going back and forth. He plays this game with my neighbor’s Chihuahua sometimes and it drives the little dog crazy. After a while, it gets frustrated and barks.
- Tug of war. He played tug of war with a pull toy for hours on end with a friend’s dog when we were away recently. He’ll occasionally play it with us.
- Catch. Don’t confuse this with Fetch. He will fetch a ball or Frisbee, but he really likes to catch them in the air. Balls, anyway. He doesn’t always bring them back and, if he does, he doesn’t always release them. Not much fun for his people. Also, if something isn’t moving, he’s not interested in it at all.
Our last dog, Jack, didn’t like to play with other dogs. He just wanted to play with us. While it’s nice to have a dedicated dog, it’s even nicer to have a dog who can play well with other dogs.
After all, there are only so many times you can throw a ball in a day.