This past weekend, we drove Nova around town to visit some friends. We thought it would be a good idea to let her have some play time with other dogs since almost all of the dogs she’s interacted with lately have not wanted to play with her or haven’t been allowed (such as at class), that we were worried it was turning her off to other dogs in general. It’s possible she’s just getting more “watchful” instead of “playful” now that she’s older, but she did get a couple of great play sessions in and we got lots of photos.
Our first “play date” of the day was with some fellow foster parents who said their dog, Jack, a BC mix, absolutely loved to play, and they were right! The minute we walked in, Jack ran up to say hello and started to initiate play. Nova took a while to show interest, but she eventually had a couple of bouts of play and seemed to enjoy it. Jack acted very much like Nova used to with play before she got so disillusioned with all the dogs that wouldn’t play in her life.
Nova also enjoyed exploring the new yard, but did a great job “checking in” and her recall was greatly improved too! I think she only missed one recall cue, and it’s entirely possible that was because she actually didn’t hear me. Every other time, she stopped what she was doing and came straight back.
Our second event of the day, was to meet some friends and their dog, Angus, a black lab / vizsla mix, and join them at a local dog park. This was the first time Nova had ever been to a dog park and we were very curious to see how she would interact, and more importantly, how long it would take to actually get her back to the car when she had a couple acres to run around in off leash.
We’re very happy to report that she never strayed more than a couple hundred feet away from us, checked in regularly, and was always happy to come back when called. There weren’t too many dogs there at first and we left when it started getting more busy. Of course, the other reason for taking her to a dog park was so she could actually play with the other dogs.
She said hello to just about everyone that came in, but never tried to play. Instead, she decided to take on the roll of “watchful guardian” observing her new domain. As a test, when it was time to go, we simply started leaving to see if she would follow. She came right with us and explored as we went back, but always made sure we weren’t too far away. Nova is always excited to go on “new” adventures, so leaving to her just meant she got to go on more adventures.
It’s hard to believe just how far she’s come in the last few years. There’s no way we would have trusted her off leash in such a large area before, and now she does great.