34. Playing Playful Play

Sir Oliver's Granny

The period in which we prepared for sir Oliver to come and live with us, my daughter bought several dog toys. It became quite clear early on, that he had not really an idea what to do with the toys. He simply ignored the toys at first. We then found out, by doing some research, that playing with toys is important for dogs to not fall prey to boredom.

After maybe a week sir Oliver started to relocate his toys from his dog bed to the doormat. We thought that was cute. We also tried to engage ourselves in his play, but it seemed that we were more interrupting him than playfully communicating. We now and then took a toy from the doormat and placed it somewhere else to see what he would do. Mostly he would not do anything.

At a certain point sir Oliver started relocating my daughters socks or occasionally a hoody. He brought it all to the doormat again. So whenever my daughter was missing something, most of the time she found it on the doormat.

This relocating was not a systemized and frequent pattern he portrait, so he could go without doing anything for days or even 2 weeks. We started to try and get his attention when playing with balls, dental balls or kong balls with treats in it, he was and is not interested in it. I also understood that some dogs are simply not into playing with dog toys. So we decided to give it time and have patience, we do not see that sir Oliver is bored, so for now there is no problem other than us wanting to play with him.

It almost seems as if sir Oliver is more into playfulness than plain playing with toys. He likes to be pet, he likes to learn some general and new commands. He likes to be a funny dog, while we call him a clown. Collecting pieces of paper out of the one and only open bin in the living room and shred them up even faster than a shredder. Which we then made him stop doing,  due to seeing that this could end up not being so funny, when next time it is our mail or an important print.

Since playing a bit rough with dog toys can help him release excess energy, dog play kept being on my mind. We cannot let sir Oliver run free without a leash and biking while him being on the leash is still too premature to do. He need to release some energy before he will channel it into bad behavior. This is of course a fear of mine, that he will eventually develop bad behavior if we do not facilitate that what he needs.

I wanted him so much to play and I tried to throw his rope toy, held it before his mouth and had no idea how to get him to play with it. This rope toy is a dental toy as well, where he can maintain his teeth and get them free of plaque. I felt a bit helpless, sitting there being funny and sir Oliver looking at me, with a look saying, what are you doing human?

Yesterday when cleaning the house, sir Oliver was following me everywhere I was dusting. Then in my son’s room he got hold of a plastic casing of a package of paper handkerchiefs. When I heard and saw him pick up the plastic casing with his lips and teeth, he ran away quickly down the stairs and dropped it on the doormat. I had followed him quickly downstairs with an fearful energy of, he may not shred it up and eat from it. So I came after him as if I would take his prey. He let me take it, and it felt like playing for the first time. Then he hurried upstairs again and took a small plastic bag from my son’s room and went almost off to bring it downstairs again. I did not know what was in the bag, so I took it from sir Oliver before he could leave the room.

I then got the idea to place his rope toy at the same spot where he was getting his preys from. And yes! He took the rope downstairs onto the doormat and that was it.

By now I knew there is a puppy still in sir Oliver who wants to play, but never learned to play as a laboratory dog and never got the opportunity to play. We have to learn him how to play, just like we took him to the park for the first time, got him all wet in his first rain shower and learned him some commands. I cannot expect from sir Oliver that he knows how to play with dog toys, we have to guide him to enjoy playing with us and his toys. It’s a long way where I need to live patience and acceptance to move one breath at a time to not overcharge sir Oliver just like I wouldn’t want to overcharge myself.

I probably going to make a toy with rabbit skin that he can play with only when we offer it to him and gradually get him acquainted with it and get him excited about it. Who knows what side of him we’ll get to know and who knows what side of myself I get to know. It’s a great opportunity to explore play and expand the word play with another living being.



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