Whole Dog Journal's Blog September 7, 2016

Special Puppy Friends

Posted at 04:43PM - Comments: (13)

I’m incredibly lucky, because my 10-month-old pit bull-mix, Woody, has a special friend, one who is almost exactly the same age. Samson belongs to one of my best friends, so our pups get to play together and walk together when my friend and I get together to walk or talk. We took our youngsters to puppy kindergarten 1 and 2 together, and this weekend, we will be taking them together on a walk that raises money for a local shelter.

The funny thing about the relationship between our two adolescent dogs? How unlikely it is, given that Woody weighs about 60 pounds, and Samson just barely tips the scales at four pounds, after he’s eaten breakfast and before he goes out to poop!

At the request of my local shelter, I fostered Woody, his seven sisters and one brother, starting when they were about three or four weeks old, and ended up falling in love with and keeping Woody, the largest pup in his litter. At exactly the same time, my friend was fostering Samson and his five brothers for the same shelter. She ended up falling in love with and keeping tiny Samson, who was the smallest pup in his litter! Because the pups have been seeing and spending time with each other on a regular basis since they were very young, they have developed into the best of friends.

Woody and Maebe hanging out on the couch

I was also fostering a young adult American Black and Tan Coonhound named Maebe when Woody was just a little more than a month old, and she was the most amazing “teenaged babysitter” for, initially, his whole litter, and later, when the rest of the puppies got adopted, just for him. She played with Woody day in and day out, and it was a sight to see. Their play was raucous, and energetic, involving wrestling and face-biting and tug o’war – and yet, she never made the much smaller puppy squeal in pain or fear. She was wild yet gentle, patient yet firm. He learned such great things from her before she was adopted!

Young Woody with a foster litter

I fostered several consecutive litters of puppies after Woody’s litter, so, for a few months, he also had the continuous opportunity to play with pups who were much younger and smaller than himself. He had to be supervised, of course, and I had to separate him frequently when he started to play a little too roughly with the puppies, but that experience (as well as the time he spent with Maebe) seemed to teach him everything he needed to know about playing with his tiny buddy, Samson.

Today, Woody almost always immediately throws himself onto the ground when he sees Samson; it’s both an invitation to play and a necessity for play, as he really can’t play chase games with Samson without hurting the little guy.

The two young dogs will roll around and wrestle together, with Samson leaping all over Woody, diving under his head and neck, and biting his lips and ears. Woody tolerates almost all of this, only occasionally flattening Samson with a long leg and a heavy paw, pinning him to the ground when he is behaving too much like a rabid weasel. Then they will often chew a bone or rawhide together, before curling up together for a nap. Woody is incredibly gentle with Samson – a point that one can most appreciate when you see him playing with an adult dog or another large adolescent; he can (and likes to) play super rough when he has a play partner who will indulge in that sort of thing. 

Woody and Samson napping after playtime

I’m so glad Samson can come over at least once a week or so for a few hours of play. I hope they will be friends long after their interest in puppy play is over.

Does your dog have a good buddy with a compatible play style?

Comments (13)

I don't think dogs judge each other by size. Story 1: We ended up getting two puppies a month apart (long story). First a Bernedoodle (now 50#) and then a Neo (200#+). To this day they are playmates and the 50# Bernedoodle being the "big" brother runs the show. Story 2: We had a much older lab when we got the Bernedoodle. The lab would always lay down so he could gently play with the puppy. Now the lab is a very old dog (15 years) and every morning, the Bernedoodle comes into the kitchen to play with the lab who now has to lay down to play. The normally over-the-top rough Bernedoodle, plays so gently with his friend.

Posted by: Kaliki | September 8, 2016 6:42 PM    Report this comment

I have a 1year-old German Shepherd rescue and a Chihuahua mix. They play like Tasmanian devils but the shepherd is so gentle. The Chihuahua rules the roost and chases the shepherd around! It's hysterical!

Posted by: vboisen | September 8, 2016 6:31 PM    Report this comment

My husky pup was lonely and in need of a companion when I started fostering a young Australian Shepherd just a couple months younger. They bonded immediately and the Aussie has stayed as a forever dog. They are roughly the same size and play together like maniacs yet with great care. No one ever gets hurt in their running, rolling, jumping play. They are going on three years together and there is no way to think of them any other way. The three of us are an inseparable team and we love it!

Posted by: Chaosbean | September 8, 2016 5:41 PM    Report this comment

I love the story you shared of Oliver & Wingman, thank you so much!
It has been over one year since I lost my heart girl, a retired racing grey, and I realizing how dead my life is without dogs! Can't wait to get my puppy!

Posted by: SlyBrandy | September 8, 2016 4:10 PM    Report this comment

My house is not the same since Jack came. He's part hound. He's my shadow. He is a watch dog, guard dog, part Border Collie, affectionate beyond words, and powerful. All 22 lbs of him and he can pull down a human.
I've had dogs all my life from the age of 1. At one time I had 7 poodles from tea cup to miniature. some related. Jack looks like both dogs I grew up with and when anyone sees the pictures they cannot believe it. We went to see another dog at the shelter which wasn't a match for me. on the way out; our eyes met and that was it. I had an abused Bicon that I rescued the year before him who was afraid of her own shadow but with Jack around; she blossomed.
the two are quite a pair of friends.

Posted by: Daizie59 | September 8, 2016 11:48 AM    Report this comment

I'm so jealous! I did not realize how quiet my life was until I got my current dog. It had been six years since my heart dog died, and I swore never again. I did eventually figure out that wouldn't work so enter my poodle mix pup, now 16 months. A mischievous, often over the top, quite sensitive pup. We did puppy classes, and many others (plus lots of outings), but without a friend or regular play group, he still exhibits frantic in your face play that could get him corrected harshly by a dog who doesn't like it. Consequently, our ability to find buddies has narrowed further. My wonderful trainers will not even consider any type of play group learning class over 5 months, possibly due to liability issues. So we condition to look, then look away when we see dogs, and I wish I could accommodate him with another dog. Meantime, I wonder about short bursts of doggie daycare - benefit or not?

Posted by: Alice R. | September 8, 2016 11:35 AM    Report this comment

Hi, I love to hear about the pups getting along. we have 4 Akita dogs, the parents and 2 of their pups, we had 2 litters, we have one pup from the first litter who is 1yr old now, then the second litter we have a male who is now going on 6 months, we are noticing the mom is fighting with the female (the 1yr old) any suggestions on how to stop the fighting...she gets along fine with the males.....

Posted by: tanya/Akitalover | September 8, 2016 11:19 AM    Report this comment

I have a 30# sheltie mix whose BFF was a (also rescued) 100# Golden Retriever (now deceased) belonging to a friend. Whenever we went over to visit Sasha (my dog) and Duke would immediately start romping and playing. It was so much fun to watch. Sasha being agile and athletic would jump over Duke's back and dart this way and that while Duke tried to catch her. THey would end up tumbling on the ground and sometimes Duke ended up rolling over on Sasha. She would squeal, Duke would jump up and then Sasha would be back at him for more. It was so sad when Duke (who turned out to be older than was thought) died--Sasha kept looking for him for quite awhile whenever we went over to my friend's.

Posted by: PJKutscher | September 8, 2016 10:34 AM    Report this comment

My dog, Donald, has a best friend - Mona. Both rescues, they were already (young) adults when they met, but their attraction was instantaneous. Both of them are very social, playful dogs who have many dog friends and special playmates, but no other dog can hold a candle to the way they feel about each other. It's soon to be their one-year "anniversary", and I have every expectation they will continue to play together for many years to come!

Posted by: amyc | September 8, 2016 10:19 AM    Report this comment

Oliver is a 23 month old White Golden Retriever, I got him from a breeder when he was a very small 9 week old white ball of fluff. Unfortunately, he has been blind from birth. After hopeful attempts at restoring his sight, when Oliver was 5 months old, I was told he was never going to see. So, at the recommendation of his ophthalmologist, I got him a buddy. I wanted a puppy of similar age so they could grow up together. So I adopted a black Labradoodle puppy, who is now 19 months. We named him Wingman. He is very rambunctious and happy-go-lucky. No one had to teach Wingman that Oliver had special needs. He just knew. He is very good with him, invites him to play and they do what large pups do, wrestle, chew on each other and play tug with their toys. With Wingman around, Oliver never has time to get sad or depressed. They love to run on the beach; Oliver stays close to me because as long as he hears my voice, he knows he is safe. He has learned that I warn him when there is something in his way or there is a step coming up. Wingman runs ahead and chases seagulls and visits with other dogs, but always runs back, nudges Oliver, to let him know he is not far. And then he runs along and repeats. At first, I thought it was a coincidence, but this behavior has been repeated consistently every time we go to the beach. He is obviously letting his blind buddy know that he is there for him. At home, when we get ready to go for a walk, Wingman will grab Oliver by the ear and gently lead him to the front door, like saying "c'mon buddy, Mom is taking us for a walk"... They are inseparable; they eat together, sleep together and go for walks together. They are never far from each other. It is impossible for me to take one somewhere and not the other, because whoever is left behind, howls desperately till they are reunited. Did someone say that dogs are incapable of loving? These two do 🐾❤️

Posted by: 2DogMom | September 8, 2016 10:17 AM    Report this comment

I always enjoy your stories. I also like to share them with others.
Thank you,

Posted by: libby | September 8, 2016 10:04 AM    Report this comment

Such a great story! Glad to see I wasn't the only one that teared up. And a testimony to Woody's wonderful temperament (and good training of course...). Pit bulls are such amazing dogs... if only people would give them a chance...

Posted by: SFLSue | September 8, 2016 9:58 AM    Report this comment

What a lovely story, Maybe Silly of me but it brought tears to my eyes.

Posted by: Nornie | September 8, 2016 9:43 AM    Report this comment

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