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Play Time!

In February of 2006, I became the proud owner of a "Porky," a Pomeranian and Yorkshire Terrier mix. "Dusty" was a dog that was CUTE beyond words, however his adorable 4-pound body concealed a pup far smarter than I. Early on, I learned that he was NOT a dog for the beginner, or "less advanced" dog owner (me).  He matured into a 12-pound, solid built guy.

Independent and witty, memories of him, often frustrating at the time, now bring a smile to my face. His antics amused many and led me to the brink of sanity several times. Anyone of my friends would agree that there is evidence that I can train horses, evidence also shows I cannot train dogs or rather had not taken the time. Although I love dogs deeply, I am not a dog trainer. Between dogs and horses there is a whole different skill set and "language" needed for success.

I HAVE owned dogs my whole adult life but somehow have been blessed with "easy ones." Dogs that were devoted and cuddly. Those that sat on my lap, liked to get held, and just "hang out" doing whatever I did. Then Dusty came into my life, and I quickly became aware I needed help. Any command, even simple ones ("Come Dusty") would ensure a sly look, I swear a sideways smile and a dart the opposite direction. I finally hired a professional to come teach me how to teach my dog who was smarter than me.In honest hindsight, the lessons ended up being more about me than about the dog. 

His behavior DID improve. We were both teachable. We worked it out. But it took a good solid year of weekly "dog" lessons. As with horse training, one hopes the "end result" is a pleasant, well-behaved horse or dog. Having worked with horses and humans as a career, I have heard myself say time and again "it takes three years to develop a horse." Until Dusty, I somehow missed the fact that it ALSO takes years to train a dog.

But for me, the biggest takeaway was play time. Currently, with eight five-week-old puppies in my life, I have not been able to avoid play time, and these memories have flooded back. Roo, Dusty's trusty dog trainer, pointed out to me that I went about my life too fast for Dusty, always on a mission and that he was missing play time. I was taken aback at first. Not at all did I think of myself as a "work only woman." But it was apparent that Dusty did.

I began to be coached on how to play with my dog. It felt awkward at first, like learning new dance steps. To have someone have to tell me to have fun with an animal I loved was humbling and heartwarming. I slowly slid into a daily rhythm of play time with Dusty, our relationship strengthened, and although he would occasionally pull out the sly look and dart, it was usually in play. 


Every single dog I have owned since has benefited from the play time lessons that I learned with Dusty. I have benefited from Dusty's play time lessons. Now, as I walk through my days, I look for play time opportunities. 


One never knows how a few minutes of play can turn around a day.

Here’s to play time.

Thank you Dusty.



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