Whole Dog Journal's Blog August 4, 2014

Perfect Playmates

Posted at 12:48PM - Comments: (12)

Is there anything as good as the perfect playmate for your young, playful dog? One who is about the same size and weight and has the same style of play as your dog?

I’m dog-sitting my son’s dog, Cole, for three whole weeks while he travels out of the country for his sport. Cole is a coonhound/Lab-mix, just about at the one-year mark – grown-up enough to not offend my now-seven-year-old Otto with his very presence on the planet, but young enough to still crave daily sessions of play. In preparation for his stay, I bought extra Tricky Treat balls (by Omega Paw, love these) for him to bat around, as well as extra raw bones. Plus I’ve been taking all the dogs (my big mixed-breed dog Otto, Chihuahua-mix Tito, and Cole) out for off-leash runs and swimming sessions in the river – anything to try to tire him out and keep him well-behaved and out of trouble (that is, out of the chicken pen, out of my raised beds in the garden, out of the neighbors’ hearing range, etc.).

But absolutely nothing trumps the entertainment value of playing with another young dog – and Cole hit the jackpot today. My husband and I rent rooms in the house where I have my office (two blocks away from our home) to students who attend a local trade school. There is a new term every four months, and today some new students arrived. One young man was accompanied by his older brother, who had attended the same school a few years ago and who brought his 11-month-old female Boxer along for the car ride. I asked whether the dog could play with Cole, and the Boxer’s owner said that would be great – and for the next two hours, the young dogs played, and played, and played.

Both young dogs enjoyed racing around the backyard, chasing each other up and down the stairs to the back porch, and wrestling on the porch sofa with toys. They grabbed each other’s legs, chewed each other’s necks, and threw themselves on top of and underneath each other in total joy, and with total comfort with each other. Neither dog was overwhelming to the other one, neither one was afraid of the other; it was as if they were raised together since they were puppies. It was a warm day, and their tongues were soon dragging, so I took the opportunity to hose off the dusty porch, and both dogs enjoyed running through the spray, which helped keep them cooler. It was a beautiful thing to see. And more beautiful yet: since they left, Cole has been sound asleep for about four hours. I’m not sure he’s going to move until tomorrow. If only that dog lived close by!

Comments (10)

I have had a totally different experience. I got a second dog to keep my first dog company and to hopefully get a dog that was a bit more effusive with his affection towards me than my first dog. I got more than I bargained for in terms of a dog that was attached to me (love, love, love it!), but he has no interest in my other dog. Which makes me feel terrible, because my first dog just wants to play. I think they each get some comfort in the other's "existence" when I'm not home, but they never play together. Very disheartening.

Posted by: popdov | August 7, 2014 12:48 AM    Report this comment

I have an 8 year old love of my life dog and she and I have been together for 5 and a half years- just us. She is part Boxer and part Catahoula Leopard Dog. She is a gentle soul and kind to everyone, human and non-human alike. Lately I have had the feeling that maybe I should get a friend for her although she just isn't all that interested in other dogs. I am home with her all day so she is never lonely unless I have an appointment that I cannot bring her with me. As I began to look for a friend for her, some of the more caring people at the rescues and at her Dr's office were saying to me that maybe she just would be better off if I didn't get another dog since she doesn't adjust well to change and she is a very nervous type of individual. I was thinking of getting a sweet and gentle Chinese Crested if I can find one in rescue or that type of gentle dog. Can anyone help me with this because I don't know what the right thing to do is. I want her to be happy and would love to see her happily playing with a "sister" but not if bringing someone else into our home with make her unhappy. Oh, I forgot to mention. I believe that she was very submissive in the home that gave her up because she still looks to see if anyone else wants to drink first before she will drink from her water bowl. Can anyone help me please?

Posted by: Sara's Mom | August 6, 2014 4:49 PM    Report this comment

About a year ago, my husband & I decided it was time to get a playmate for our 3-year old Boxer. I'm home all day with her but we could just tell she wanted someone to "box" and "fight" with, and something other than lizards to chase around the yard. In March, we adopted TWO Boxer-mix puppies (littermates) from our local rescue and everyone thought we were CRAZY (even us)! Less than 5 months in, and as chaotic as our house is with two 6-month old puppies, we know we made the right decision! When our big girl is annoyed or just wants to rest, the two little ones happily go romp around together and leave her alone. Otherwise, it's a big Boxer growly, bitey, chasey playfest in our house and we wouldn't want it any other way! Sometimes in the middle of playtime, Sophie (who will be 4 yo next month) will come over to us with a big smile on her face and reach up to give us puppy kisses as if to say "Thank you for my friends! They're my favorite thing!"

Posted by: sdbeachgirl | August 6, 2014 1:46 PM    Report this comment

We have the great good fortune of a 6-yr old "puppy," where play is concerned! Allie thinks she's Queen of our dog park and will eagerly play with any/all willing participants. Just 2 days ago she met Bauer, a REALLY small, maybe 7-lb unknown breed - I sure hope we meet up again so I can find out more about him (wish I could post a video here). She is a 55# lab mix "the whitest dog I've ever seen!" is the almost-universal comment we get when someone new meets her. She is a VERY vigorous PLAYgirl; the rougher the collisions the better, yet she's at her best when confronted with a dog like Bauer - tiny and relentless. It is universally hilarious to watch her be attacked, "thrown" to the ground and "dominated" by a dog 1/10th her size!!! Bauer's "mom & dad" were howling with laughter. Enough bragging on her --- we are BLESSED with this girl we rescued 5 1/2 years ago in the Arkansas boonies, and she is SO much better off now in NoCal, one block from our fabulous off-leash park...

Posted by: Lar_Dog | August 6, 2014 4:40 AM    Report this comment

Dogs can get lonely when they are by themselves for long periods of time.

While I am never away from home for very long, my own dogs and my fosters enjoy some time on their own. They eat, sleep, and play together. They happily greet me on my return and expect a romping time outside.

I think they look on me as their housekeeper and cook as well as older playmate. They allow me to share the large-sized bed at night because they like to have me near when a thunderstorm comes. I am rewarded with doggie kisses and sniffy cuddles.

There are so many rescued animals at shelters that would make loving doggie companions. Every dog owner should consider an adoption because all dogs should have a buddy or two. I can never be happy with only one dog. My six-pack agrees.

Posted by: doc | August 5, 2014 5:01 PM    Report this comment

My three year old English Setter needed just this type of buddy. Everyone was just two busy to bring their dog over. So I went to an English Setter rescue and adopted a field English after reading her bio and talking to the foster mother. She came May 11 and little by little she has become just what Kelsey and I needed. That buddy to run and jump and leap with and have a great time with. I am so very glad I did this.

Posted by: Jemkennel@aol.com | August 5, 2014 11:06 AM    Report this comment

It's not totally necessary for the two dogs to be the same size and weight. We have a new Rat Terrier puppy (with "puppy breath" my wife the dog trainer tells me), and our collie plays with her for an hour at a time. Our collie outweighs the puppy by ten to one, and towers over her, but the collie lets the puppy jump on her head, back, tail, whatever's handy.

Posted by: Sundog | August 5, 2014 9:40 AM    Report this comment

My only pup was pining for company who would play with him and then along came a foster pup about the same age, size and temperament and joy was found. Foster pup became a forever dog within days and the two have been running each other ragged daily ever since. It's lovely to watch the evenly matched pair play themselves into well deserved naps all the time.

Posted by: Chaosbean | August 5, 2014 9:08 AM    Report this comment

Rootie and Ryka are our pair of similar-looking dogs. They chose each other as playmates and friends. Together the keep each other happy and engaged --even when my husband and I can't be at home with them. They are a great comfort and the source of love and laughs every day. On walks, they're like a pair of draft horses -- walking side-by-side. They share bones and toys, look out for each other, even licking one another's ears. It's a happy time of laughs and cuddles for all of us.

Posted by: Cate Zim | August 4, 2014 8:39 PM    Report this comment

I'm delighted that my favorite dog resource, and the monthly newsletter I read avidly every month, has written so compellingly about the pack-buddy pluses of having two dogs who are buddies. We've had dogs for years, and now we're blissfully delighted to have two best friends who are not litter mates, but who chose each other. They keep each other company when my husband and I can't be at home. And they're great fun, when only one of us is at home. I don't think I could ever have just one dog again. The love, the fun, the cuddles and camaraderie is worth more than a little more dog fur here and there, and a slightly higher food and bone bill. It's a laugh-a-minute or a snoozy cuddle at night or early morning.

Posted by: Cate Zim | August 4, 2014 8:32 PM    Report this comment

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