Sneaky ball play

I am struggling with a bad cold — headache, nausea, sore throat, fatigue (while my husband is in Rome being brilliant) — so have not done much with Lyra this week, apart from short ball games, scratchboard, and muzzle training. She had a dull birthday (no cake!). Yet I can tell she is changing, subtly. E.g., I used to think she’d never want to snuggle; but yesterday, when I crashed into bed in the late afternoon, feeling awful, she sought me out and curled up against my stomach. I woke up with her muzzle on my face, and she was so happy to see my eyes open. A sweet moment.

Today, though (Garbage Truck Day), I had an inspiration. It was long after the trucks had been on our street, but I could hear one or two in the distance. (You can bet Lyra did, too!). Instead of taking her into the back yard, I took her out front on her leash — to the far side of the house, where a fence at the end, and the wall of the neighbour’s house, make a short, dead-end alley. I stood at the opening (my back to the road) and threw the ball toward the fence. Lyra ran for it, and the game was on. She was a little tentative at times (we both heard a distant truck once or twice) but willing to play. I tested her now and then (with food, or a cue) and she was consistently under threshold. It’s the first time in months that I’ve taken her beyond the safety of the backyard on a Friday. The “alley” is not fully closed; she has full view of the street.

So, I think I’ll start playing ball with her in the alley, using her long lead to be safe — not on Fridays, initially (today I was just grasping at straws). My objective: to engage her in play where she can see people (and, eventually, trucks) on our street.

The idea of “play therapy” keeps coming into my head these days. A fearful dog version.

Lyra turned 2  on January 17th. She is now officially an “adult” — but the words “hello my lovely puppy” still pop out of me.



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