Sunday, October 2, 2011

Made of tuff stuff

Micron would give this Kong Flyer a Two Thumbs Up,
if only he had the obligatory digits.
This is a one durable dog toy and big enough to share with a friend or two.

It happened again this week.

Yaxley are at the grocery to grab just a couple of things. It's been getting kinda chilly out, which has put me in the mood for some homemade potato soup.  What would otherwise be a quick trip (taters, chicken broth, green onions) takes a bit longer with my puppy companion.

A working dog in the grocery is like walking alongside a celebrity. People stop us to ask questions about Yaxley. And that's okay. Not only do I expect this, it's actually one of the reasons I take him on this trip. We're all about raising awareness of CCI and assistance dogs, me and him.

How old is he?, they ask. What's his name?  Is he a Labrador? How long do you have him? So you have to give him up later? Oh, I couldn't do that.  Ah, this is good stuff. Yax sits in heel position as I share information on CCI and he is ever so patient as he awaits the Let's Go command to continue our shopping.

And then we get the question that unsettles me a bit.

Our new acquaintance will look at the pup, sitting there all handsome, groomed and well-behaved.  They lean forward closer to me, tilting their head. The question is spoken using a different, softer tone of voice. With something akin to pity on their face, I'm asked does he ever get to play?

What?

This is the one query that bugs me. I wonder what people see as we're working with Yax's socialization in public.  Does the pup look nervous or unhappy and I failed to notice?  No, no I don't think that could be it. I'm keeping a keen eye on his reactions the entire time - tail is relaxed, gait is confident. I'm speaking commands to him firmly, but not unkindly - I'm not giving off an aura of ogre. So I consider that some folk have only seen these pups-in-training while they're on the job. They just haven't had the pleasure of seeing these fluffies get down and dirty during a play session.

Do these dogs ever get to play? Well, of course they do, people. They're dogs and nobody can take that simple little factoid away from them, can they?  As puppy raisers, we do expect a higher level of behavior than a pet, that's true. We're going to be less tolerant of purposeful misbehavior. That's true as well.  We handle these pups as if they have a higher purpose than a pet. Well, because they do.

But you've got to open the release valve on these critters and let them run and wrestle with others of their ilk. It's only humane, as well as good common sense. A tired dog is a good dog, that's my motto.

But these are merely words on a screen. How about something more visual for our case in point?

I'll share with y'all a few freeze-frame action shots of Yaxley during a play date with buddies Micron and Karsen. Three dogs against one Kong Flyer. For extra enjoyment of these shots, take a closer look at the ears on these fellas. These dogs were having a full-speed-ahead blast.









Now this is a dog I'd take to the grocery.
Might just do a quick finger swipe on the grass blade on the tongue.

Addendum:

Thanks to CCI puppy raisers, Mark and Deb from Ansel: The Life & Times of a CCI Puppy for reminding me of this excellent video from CCI's Gold Rush Champions chapter.

This really clears up that pesky question of do they ever get to play?

Here's CCI GRC Service Dogs do have Fun.  Enjoy . . .




9 comments:

  1. My pups love that toy too - but I can never get head shots of them playing - they always insist on showing me their butts! :)

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  2. Great pics! I too wonder about the question of dog play. If they could just see what goes on at home!

    One of these days I'm going to reply: Do you let YOUR kids play while at the grocery (bank, dept store etc...)?

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  3. Deb just reminded me of this great video. Let's make copies and hand them out!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmYgQraYcIA

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  4. Ah Mark, thanks to you and Deb for reminding me of this video. It's so well done; I could watch it over and over. I've added it to the bottom of the post.

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  5. Great pics! I agree! No matter how hard I try to hide a dog someone will always find me! I find myself getting that question too! Dembre's sitting at my side patiently and somehow they can't imagine I calm like that PLAYING! I always say "Right now he's working, but he's allowed to play when he's off duty!"

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  6. Whenever I get the play I questions, I always want to take off the jacket and say "release" then see what their reaction is. People always tell me that "ah, they look so sad" but they don't see the behind the scenes when the dog shoves their head through jacket and heads for the door, excited to go to work!

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  7. Absolutely awesome post... I think a lot of people don't realize that service dogs are still dogs. As people, we have a work mode and a play mode... why wouldn't dogs have the same?

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  8. Woof! Woof! I LOVE KONG but never saw n played with this Kong Flyer. Will definitely check it out. LOVE, Golden Play Photos. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

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  9. Lisa, yeah I'm only showing the better shots of the bunch. The memory card does have its share of outtakes and butt shots, too.

    Elijah, Ashley and Pup Fan, I totally agree. Wouldn't it be fun to unleash them and "Release!"? Well, maybe not so fun as exciting. Especially in the grocery.

    Sugar, Welcome to our humble goings-on. Hope to hear from you again. We're off to check out your site.

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