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When To Throw the Red Flag On Dogs Play

Originally published Nov. 4th, 2016

Cochise on dogs play
Cochise tells the tale

Most dogs like to play. Most of a dogs play is a lighthearted version of real-life skills: chasing, catching, fetching and … fighting.

As long as it’s done in the name of good, harmless fun, there is no problem. But if it should slide beyond play: because one “combatant” feels he is losing and doesn’t want to, things can get bloody fast.

Breaking up a dog fight is dangerous, especially if there is only one Peoples. It is best to red flag it before play turns to fight.

Signs of Play

Sampson demonstrates the classic Play Bow

When we’re playing, the tails will be swinging happily from side to side, we may bounce side to side or enter a play bow (forelegs and chest on the ground, butt in the air), we may lunge and retreat. When happy, our eyes are open and round, ears are up, and our mouths should be open and “smiling”. We may sound like we’re about to kill each other, but as long as it’s just trash-talking we’re okay.

We may wrestle each other to the ground and pin our opponent there. We may leap around and over one another, we may body slam each other, or we may take off and run – incorporating these other moves when we get the opportunity. Biting is okay as long as it’s gentle.

Tinker’s Revenge

The Dogtor is in

It was New Years day but it was also a Sunday so, as we always do on Sunday, we secured the dogs and went off to church. With travel there and back, Sunday school and the worship service we are gone about three hours.

For Blondie Bear and Cochise, that is no problem: they are tankers and can hold their bladders for a full day if they must. Like when it rains. They HATE going out in a hard rain. But for Tinker, three hours is quite a while and he will be dancing around and running for the back door as soon as we come in the front door. He IS reliable, he’s just uncomfortable at that point.

So all the dogs got a time in the yard while Marie and I took care of some things around the house. Then we readied to go to my Mom’s house to visit with my half-brother and his family, who had driven in from Nebraska the night before for a Christmas celebration with Mom and her grand-daughters.

We thought about securing the dogs again, but it was no longer raining, it was not especially cold, and Mom’s house is actually on our property, just outside the dog fence. They can keep tabs on us if they are in the yard. At the very least they like to bark at us in warning about the dangers of willingly entering a home where not one but TWO cats live.

Cochise’s Bedtime Dilemma

Last night Cochise had a bedtime dilemma.

Cochise and Blondie Bear are permanent residents. Tinker, Jasmine and Gator are foster dogs. We offer multiple dog beds but who sleeps on what can be kind of fluid during the day and evening. Everyone is okay with that.

bedtime dilemma, blondie on futonIn the living room are a pair of beds made from a donated futon pad. These are favored when Marie and I are in the living room or kitchen, and are big enough that they can be shared when necessary.

bedtime dilemma, blondie Gator share abed

At bedtime, however, each dog has a definite preference.

Christmas in the Dog House

In many homes Christmas morning is met with the squeals and giggles of children tearing wrapping paper to discover what treasures hide within.  At our house it’s a little … different.

When Marie and I  got home from church we walked down to my Mom’s house where we met up with my brother and sister-in-law who drove in from South Carolina for Christmas lunch.  She runs a restaurant  and brought the food.  A tasty meal and a good visit with family we don’t get to see often.

Then Marie and I returned to our house to open presents with The Kids.  There was no wrapping paper on their gifts (much of that is toxic if eaten), but they didn’t mind.  Wrapping paper just confuses them.

The squeaker squirrel was a special gift intended for Tinker (because he does SO love squeaker toys) so we rescued it from Jazzy before she could do it harm and gave it to Tinker.  It instantly became his favorite toy!

Tinker Takes the Sofa After Squeakasaurous Incident

Cochise, on DST
Cochise tells the tale

It was a couple of nights before Tinker got his HW treatment.  NiceLady was looking for Tinker.  He was not in his usual spot in the hallway.  She checked the snuggle beds in the bedroom, she checked in the den, she checked the futon beds in the picture box watching room, she checked the blankets around the eating table.

No Tinker.

She turned on a lamp … there he was!  Too well camouflaged to see in the semi-dark.

In our house we have a “no dogs on the people furniture” rule.  It’s only fair: they have a sofa, a chair and a bed.  We have like 6 snuggle beds and an assortment of blankets scattered around the house.

But earlier that evening Tinker had been playing with the squeakasaurus:

Late Night, Lazy Dogs

Cochise, on DST
Cochise tells the tale

We are all lazy this morning. All us dogs are anyway. The peoples are up and about their usual tasks.

They did not stay up until the wee hours of the morning watching election results like some Peoples did, but their regular bed time of 10:00 still feels like 11:00 because of that Daylight Silly Time thing. And because Tinker decided he needed to go out to pee at 2:30 AM.

Normally Tinker tap dances in the hallway until Hairy hears him and gets up. That wasn’t working this morning so he took a page from my book, came into the bedroom to look around the corner and softly said, “Rowr, rar, rar, rar.”

Triple Dog Truck’n and Saturday Chores

Cochise,
Cochise tells the tale

It’s a beautiful fall Saturday and we are all enjoying being outside in it as much as we can.

This morning HairyFace loaded the trash and recycling bins into the truck and Blondie and I got excited because we know this means TRUCK RIDE!

cochise_truck-ride-151212Hairy helped me put my harness on, walked me out and belted me into the shot-gun seat. I always get shot-gun on trash days: that’s a rule. Blondie doesn’t mind: she prefers the space behind the seats because she can move around and stick her nose out either window.

As he was walking Blondie out to the truck, Tinker was standing off to the side, looking sad.

“What’s the matter Tinker?” asked Blondie.

Mr. Tinker Goes to Town

Cochise,
Cochise tells the tale

It was a sunny Saturday morning and there was extra excitement in the air. Saturdays are always fun because we get a fancy breakfast then HairyFace, Blondie Bear, and I go on a truck ride. But this morning it was a little different.

The evening before, HairyFace and NiceLady made us go out in the yard while they filled little bags with doggie treats to take to a craft fair that the Steele Away Home – Canine Foster and Rescue folks were hosting as a fund raiser.

This morning Hairy was loading the truck, but instead of the trash cans he was putting in folding chairs, the treats they made up last night, a metal bowl, a big bottle of water and some things I didn’t know what they were.

blonde-dogs-in-bandanas-1
Blonde Dogs in Bandanas

NiceLady brushed Tinker and ironed a red bandana and put it on him, saying, “You need to look extra spiffy today.”

Blondie was jealous, so Lady put one on her as well. That made her happy.

After breakfast Blondie and I got all excited because we were ready to go ride in the truck, but Hairy said, “Not yet, Cochise. We’ll do that later: when we get back from town.”

Tinker Is A Good Friend

Cochise,
Cochise tells the tale

Before Millie had her heartworm treatments, Tinker and Millie were frequent playmates. Millie likes to play rough-n-tumble. Jasper was a great playmate for her, but Jasper has moved on. Blondie has not been fond of rough play since a foster snagged her eyelid and tore it, requiring surgery to repair it (and weeks in a cone collar). I don’t do rough play. That’s kid stuff. But Tinker likes to play, and he has been good with Millie.

Tinker is twice her size, but he does not abuse that, and neither of them get combative in play as some dogs do. When play turns to a fight it can get bloody fast. Tinker does growl when he plays. We don’t like that and are discouraging it. But some dogs are into trash-talking when they play and it’s hard to get them to stop.

The Tinker Collection – notes on a rescue dog

This is a foster dog diary post. Here we’ve collected glimpses of Tinker’s life with us in one place to show what you could expect if you adopt Tinker.

Last updated: February 3, 2017

TinkerTinker Steele is a Golden Retriever / Husky mix. He is around 7 years old and weighs 75 pounds. He gets along well with all our dogs and everyone he’s met. He is fully house broken, knows his basic commands, and is affectionate, but rarely demanding. He’s not fond of high activity. Oh, and … he LOVES squeaker toys.