Two Is Better Than One

We met up with some friends over the weekend for a park play date and got to meet their dog, River, for the first time. She’s a huge sheepdog puppy, only 10 months old – and thus, she’s pure energy and snuggles. She looks like one of those cartoon dogs with so much fur, you can’t even see their eyes. My friends were saying how they got lucky because the previous owners paid $1500 and spoiled her very much, but due to their age and health, could no longer meet her daily energy needs. They described River as easy to train, extremely social, a great family pet who’s good with kids and meeting new people. After a little browsing on the internet myself later, I believe she’s an Old English sheepdog, and her look and character traits are all really consistent with how they described her at the park. And now, to help match her high energy level, my friends are in search of another dog to add to the family. While we were at the park, they left briefly to meet their fourth potential new dog. There wasn’t chemistry, as the “new” dog was not interested in playing with River and the current owner was very protective and kept the dog in her arms most of the time.

It reminded me of when we went looking for a second dog, many years ago, for Sam. We probably met with over a dozen dogs, and all were an immediate no. Not that we had really high standards, but it’s just one of those things that when it’s a match, you know. Some dogs were “too interested” while others weren’t wanting to play with Sam at all. We swept an hour radius around us, traveling across the river into Missouri, or far east to Centralia IL. It was an exciting and fun few weeks and a great excuse for a road trip. Each time we would set out full of hope and excitement, that today this could be our new dog. And if it didn’t work out, it was still fun to have met a new dog and a new person, and we’d usually get some drive-thru anyways.

The one that finally had chemistry with Sam was Harry. He was a rescue dog who had survived parvovirus, a highly contagious flu-like illness in dogs that causes vomiting, diarrhea, and severe to fatal dehydration if untreated. Harry had recovered and was being fostered by a volunteer family only 10 minutes from us. As soon as we went in their house, Harry ran excitedly up to Sam and began nipping and licking his ears. We let them out back and they ran all around the yard, with Harry nipping at Sam’s ears and bucking and wagging his tail, and Sam happily tolerating Harry’s interest in him. The more they played, the better they played, and the more they discovered how to have fun. We lived on 2 acres at the time, so taking Harry home for a 7-day trial totally solidified the match. The two would bolt up and down the fence line, racing each other, tackling and tumbling and rolling over and over and over. Indoors, they would play what I thought of as a “thumb war” of the jaw – each would open their mouth really big and try to bite it over the other’s snout to “pin” him. They would be side by side, mouths open wide, making a silly sort of snort/growl that was totally non-aggressive. When one got the other’s snout, it was only for a short time, and both dogs would jump up excitedly and start to brawl, which is when the indoor play got moved outside.

Just like human children, where the greatest joy is in seeing your young ones play together and show their love of each other, it was so heart warming and entertaining to watch those two play. They adored each other’s company. They had fun. They wore each other out. They learned the rules and “whose is whose” for bowls, beds, leashes, etc. And we had the joy of seeing them interact and of being able to provide them with a safe, fun place to live their years.