Is your dog like Mrs. Kravitz?

Social Media has a ton of different types of quizzes – anything from who you were in a previous life to what type of dog breed you might be. All of these quizzes made me wonder about what famous character (as in movie/film/cartoon/tv, etc.) my dogs might be.

There will be a series of these posts that will feature one dog per post so you can get some insight into each dog and why I chose that character for my dog. Each dog will have at least two characters assigned to them because we have so many different facets to our personalities and the same is true for our dogs.  It would be a disservice to assign only one character per dog.

Ella
Ella is without a doubt Mrs. Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched. As a reminder, Mrs. Kravitz was extremely nosy, frequently peeking through curtains and sometimes her excessive nosiness got her in trouble. Does this description remind you of your dog?  It describes Ella to a “T!” Ella loves to look out the windows,  she knows everyone in the neighborhood, and where they are at all times. Ella sounds the alert when someone is on the move or if something suspicious.

Ella's window with frosted window film
Ella’s window with frosted window film

My house has floor to ceiling windows  which means Ella is in puppy dog heaven! Before she arrived we had a peaceful home. Rarely did you hear our dogs bark.  After she arrived there was barking all the time. A leaf fell and she barked! That kind of arrousal isn’t good for anyone. How do you reduce the level of barking without destroying a dog’s spirit? Do all the windows have to be blacked out all the time? Window film is a magical and wonderful thing! Ella can still see out but not as much as she did before.  I swear she pouted when I put it up, but now she is fine with it – she looks through the leaves! But she barks only once in a while and most importantly, the barking only lasts 30 seconds or less instead of 5 minutes or longer.

The other cool thing about the window film is that it is a) removable and b) prevents damage to my blinds.  You might wonder how the film could prevent damage to my blinds, but the day before I installed the film I left the blinds down when I went to work. Heavy sigh.  Ella was Mrs. Kravitz and had to see outside. It didn’t matter to her that there were blinds in the way of her view.  Let’s just say that the blinds have seen better days and I learned a valuable lesson.

Ella has another side to her personality – it is not in juxtaposition to Mrs. Kravitz but works with it.  Unlike Mrs. Kravitz, Ella is loved by everyone because Ella has a pure heart, is very beautiful, and has a need to protect everyone.

Why isn't it enough to be beautiful?
You mean it isn’t it enough to be beautiful?

Ella’s other character is Gracie Hart from Miss Congeniality. According to the Urban Dictionary Miss Congeniality is: 1)  a friendly, social person. The center of attention,  gets along with everyone. Usually an attractive person as well. 2)the person named most fun in a beauty pageant.

Ella: Learning how to play

Ella - love you girl!
Ella – love you girl!

Ella joined our clan in July and fit in right away. Ella accepted Charlie and his blindness without hesitation. It was apparent that Ella trusted Charlie even when he was socially awkward. Ella grew up in a home that was filled with other Cavaliers so when she met Jade she saw a giant beastie of a dog. It didn’t take long for Jade to ease Ella’s fears about her. Ella soon decided that Jade wasn’t scary at all and that Jade hung the moon!

Teaching Ella the basics
Ella arrived knowing how to walk extremely well on a leash and how to stay, but sit and down were new concepts. If there were thought bubbles over Ella’s head at times I swear they would read “isn’t it enough to be beautiful?” or “you want me to do what?” Ella is one of the sweetest and most loving dogs you will ever meet, but learning new skills takes time and creativity on my part. It has been fun to go back to the basics with Ella.

Ella learning how to "down" by modeling Jade's behavior
Ella learning how to “down” by modeling Jade’s behavior

Do you see how hard Ella concentrates? I haven’t had a dog that thought this hard to get something right in a long time!

It has been fun has been watching Jade teach Ella. Jade is very patient  with Ella especially during training moments. If you’ve ever met Jade you know that patience doesn’t come naturally to her!  Words like “overly enthusiastic” or “extremely joyful” or even  “baby Godzilla” have been used to describe Jade. Patient … nope… not a word that typically fits her profile.  So, why do you think she is being patient with Ella?

Jade is teaching Ella and is self-handicapping. Jade can be very sweet and loving when she knows that a person, or a dog, is in need. Jade is patient with Ella because somehow she knows that Ella needs help learning basic cues like sit, down, and leave it. It is cool to watch her teach Ella.

Play is an important part of learning
One of the many wonderful things about dogs is they use play to teach and learn. When Ella met  Jade and Charlie she was shy around both of them.  She became friends with Charlie first and loves to snuggle with him.  It took a little longer before she was completely comfortable around Jade and even longer until she was willing to play with Jade.  These are appropriate activities with each dog because Jade loves to play and Charlie loves to snuggle.

Ella and Charlie - sweet pups
Ella snuggling with Charlie – sweet pups

It took about about three months of Ella living with us for the next story to happen.  Every dog, every home will be different – the key is to be patient and let your new dog find their own comfort zone so that they can find their joy.

Jade selected the smallest fleece rope toy that she had and took it to the overstuffed chair in our living room so she could let the rope dangle from her mouth over the edge of the chair. Jade looked at Ella to make sure that Ella was watching her.  Jade got up and very slowly paced around the living room – back and forth – right by Ella… each time Jade passed Ella she got closer. Sometimes Jade would let the rope gently touch Ella but she didn’t let Ella take the rope. Every now and then Jade returned to the chair and waited a few seconds before resuming her walk around the room.

Each time resumed her walk she increased her speed. Eventually Jade started tossing the rope up in the air and catching it… Ella got interested in chasing Jade when the rope was being tossed! Ella didn’t try to take the rope, she just chased Jade. The game continued for a while like this… Jade pacing, swinging the rope and/or tossing it up and catching it with Ella chasing Jade.  Don’t blink… Jade let Ella catch the rope! Within a few minutes Jade had Ella tugging on the rope and even had Ella grabbing the rope right up by Jade’s mouth to tug.  And I mean tug hard!  Ella was tugging!!

Ella and Jade tugging
Ella and Jade tugging

I was so happy to see this – why? Because this was the same girl that thought Jade was scary. Jade was patient and knew what was needed to let Ella be her friend. Jade taught Ella how to play with her. Jade self-handicapped so that Ella could learn that she was safe, that she was a friend who could be trusted. We all need friends like Jade in the world.

Ella, Charlie and Jade playing
Ella, and Jade playing. Charlie comes to see what they are doing and maybe join in the fun!

Jade and Ella continue to play and have increased their games to include other toys. To let you know how comfortable Ella is in our home, Ella has even stalked Jade! Jade seems to like being stalked by Ella because she takes her paw and just puts it on Ella like “you’ve got to be kidding.” That is when Ella takes the toy and runs! Ella has a few places she can hide out, but Jade knows where to find her. It has become their game. It is good. It means Ella feels safe.

Since this post is about play I want to share one more thing. Ella has been “retrieving” with Jade when Jade practices for her competitions or just for fun. Ella has only been willing to tag the ball or dummy. She does run with Jade to get the ball or dummy and to bring it back – she has not brought the item back. The other day she picked up the ball! I was so excited!

Ella retrieving and holding a ball for the first time. This is a stress ball - she doesn't look stressed here!
Ella retrieving and holding a ball for the first time. This is a stress ball – she doesn’t look stressed here!

It is important to share the joy in play because if nothing else, play should be fun!

So… How do your dogs play together? How do you play with your dogs?

For more information on the importance of play:
Jaak Panksepp: “Affective Continuity? From SEEKING to PLAY — Science, Therapeutics and Beyond” p.1

The science of emotions: Jaak Panksepp at TEDxRainier

Fun Times: Dogs at the Beach

What do you do for fun with your dogs? My dogs enjoy many of the same things, but each one has their own favorite thing to do. Jade loves to swim and run. Jade is the dog swimming in the header photo of this blog. In that photo she is swimming in the rain. Nothing will stop Jade from swimming if there is water nearby.  Charlie loves to follow his nose and he loves to share his joy with people. Ella, well, I am not sure I want to admit this, but she likes to tickle me! Other than that she likes to look beautiful (who knew that was a thing), whatever Jade is doing, and snuggling! Oh, and Ella does not like to swim – not one teeny, tiny bit!

I was  at a conference in Coronado, California . The hotel was right on the beach which was nice. It didn’t take me long to discover that one end of the beach was used by Navy Seals and the other end was a dog park. You can guess which end of the beach I spent most of my time.

There is something about the beach that makes you just want to have fun. The same is true for dogs.  Some loved getting into the water and running in the waves, others only wanted to run on the beach and avoided getting wet.

walking along the water's edge
walking along the water’s edge

People liked taking their dogs for a walk along the edge of the water. All dogs were off leash and they followed certain off leash etiquette:

  • dogs stayed within their sight;
  • dogs must be under voice control: this means dogs come when called so their person can either put a leash on their dog or the dog stayed with their person if there is a potentially dangerous situation;
  • dogs may not disturb other dogs, people, or wildlife;
  • all waste must be picked up and removed from beach.

Since everyone followed these rules people didn’t worry what other dogs were doing. They knew that the other dogs on the beach were okay and would not bother their dog. If dogs said “hello” to each other it was friendly and didn’t last long.  Mostly, the dogs stayed close to their person.

Dogs loved running free on the sand. People were attentive to their dogs. I loved it that people let the dogs decide what was fun. Some dogs only wanted to run and play on the beach. You can tell that these dogs clearly loved being on the beach. I wouldn’t take this joy from them – not in a million years!

Run free on the beach!
Sheer Joy! Running free!
Let's play!
Let’s play!
I might go close to the water, but I'm not getting my paws wet!! No how, now way!!
I might go close to the water, but I’m not getting my paws wet!! No how, now way!!

Some dogs wanted to be in the water.  Common theme: all of these dogs loved to play! The dogs were having fun whether they ran on the beach or they played in the water.

This next group of dogs wanted to chase balls, frisbees, whatever they could – not just on the sand, but they wanted to retrieve these items from the ocean!

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It is great that this dog had some self-control while he waited for the frisbee to be thrown… If I put a thought bubble over the dog’s head it might read “throw it already!”

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While he had self control he knew the trajectory and could anticipate where it would fly so he could catch it mid-air! I bet the thought bubble here would be “really, that’s all you got!” I loved watching this dog. After he caught the frisbee he ran into the waves with it. Was that a victory dance? Or was it his way of pretending that was where the frisbee was headed… we will never know. It was just fun to see this dog’s joy as he played the game.

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After he ran into the ocean with the frisbee he brought it back…..

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When he was done with the victory dance he came back toward his people, dropped the frisbee and laid down beside it.  It is a good idea to embrace the different play style of  each dog.  How does your dog play the game of retrieve? How does your dog play other games?

There was a little Jack Russell Mix that was a bundle of energy. He tried to be very patient while waiting for the ball to be thrown. Once it was tossed he would bolt for the ball like a horse that was let out of the starting gate during a race! He was a ton of fun to watch too.

Will you throw my ball?
Will you throw my ball?

This picture is fun because it gives you an idea of where the dog park was in relation to the hotel. The conference hotel was the building with the big red roof in the background – about a mile away.  The lady did throw the ball for her dog.

Skipping after the ball
Skipping after the ball

And he bounded after it! Oh the joy. He was such a delight – he had no fear of the waves!

searching for ball in deep water (well, for this dog!)
searching for ball in deep water (well, for this dog!)

Look for the tail in the middle of the photo and you’ll find the dog. His back is almost level with the depth of the water as he searches for his ball. He doesn’t give up though and is rewarded …

bringing ball back - let's do it again!
bringing ball back – let’s do it again!

Success!  He found his ball and brought it back. This little guy didn’t dally. He was in a hurry to retrieve his ball, bring it back, and play again!

A parting thought. Wherever we are, whatever we do – have fun. Dance, laugh, play. Share your joy. Live life without fear – as much as you can. I happened to get a picture that I love that reminds me of how we all have joy to share wherever we go!

Dance, laugh, love...
Dance, laugh, love…

Share the joy
Enjoy each moment
Live fear free as much as possible