Today was our weekly Puppy Play Time a our local Petco. When we arrived Chase announced, “I want to watch Zoe. In there, with you, Mommy.” I looked for permission from the instructor and sighed in relief mixed with a bit of fear when she gave the go ahead. I wasn’t sure how Chase would handle the stimulus from 8 active pups. After a friendly, pure white German Shepard licked Chase on the face we created a corner where Chase could watch sitting from a chair with me sitting in front of him fielding playful pups away from Chase. The same tactic used to keep overly excited pups away from the “I’m not so sure about this” pups, kept Chase happy and secure for about 10 minutes.
I became anxious when Zoe started to corner another puppy, a 10 week Great Dane, and tried to call Zoe back over to me. The trainer in charge of the 30 minute canine social skills group lifted her hand in the universal stop gesture and said, “No, this is good. For both pups. It will teach Bailey (the Great Dane) to stick up for himself, and teach Zoe boundaries.” I then sat in awe as the quivering, puppy that for the first fifteen minutes stood shaking behind his master barked at Zoe and lunged. Zoe ran for my lap and left the other pup alone the rest of the evening. Zoe eventually found another puppy to play with him, and amazingly enough the cowering Great Dane soon joined the other frolicking puppies.
During this entire scenario Chase sat behind me on his chair. I knew when Chase had enough as he started pressing on my back and pushing his chin into my neck. “Do you want to take a walk with Daddy while I stay with Zoe?”
“No, I just want to go home.” He replied in his super subdued tone. I gave him a firm hug and told him, “We will go home after Zoe’s play time. He needs this so that he will be a better service dog for you.” Chase looked at me and asked “Why?” I pointed to where Zoe was wrestling with another dog. I showed Chase how Zoe was learning to bite gently -earlier he nipped another dog too hard and well, you can imagine what happened next. I had a twenty pound whining dog in my lap. Zoe avoided that other pup the rest of the evening. We talked about how important it was for Zoe to learn not to bite so hard, and eventually stop biting altogether.
Soon after Chase gave me a hug and joined his dad out of the puppy arena. For the next ten minutes I watched Zoe as he he practiced the skills of taking turns, personal space, unacceptable social behaviors, etc. I then chuckled to myself as I realized that each Tuesday evening Chase attends his own social skills group for these same exact reasons. The more I am around Chase and Zoe the more I am realizing how similar the two of them are, and how perfect they are for each other.
Learn more about Chasing Zoe.