Saturday, March 13, 2010

Games Abby Played: Part I

(This is a good example of Abby turning a 'chasing' toy into a 'tugging' toy. By that point in her life, she didn't play fetch as much, but knew Andy loved it, so to get his attention, she would antagonize him by taking his toys.)

What was Abby doing while Father was going through his medical ordeal? She was adjusting to her new surroundings and new people in her life. Even a few months after we bought Abby, I still did not view Abby as my dog, and technically she was not. My mom picked her out and paid for her. I considered myself more of a caretaker or even her playmate. Abby definitely thought of me as her playmate. Maybe because I did not consider Abby mine while she was young that I did not pay close attention to many details of her then. Of course now, I wished I had.

I said Abby was my playmate, and play she did. Her main source of fun was her toys, Father and me. The toys could be categorized into three areas. There were chew toys that Abby liked to gnaw on when she was bored such as a rawhide bone or a pigs ear.

Then there were ‘retrieving’ toys such as balls or Frisbees. When Abby was young, she lived up to her breed’s namesake, the retriever part, and loved to play fetch. In particular, Abby loved to catch objects in mid-air such as chasing down a Frisbee and catching it before it landed or catching a ball in mid-air either before it landed or after it had bounced. Abby’s retrieving activities were mostly done outside were there was lots of space. Inside, Abby didn’t like to play fetch. Andy, on the other hand, loved to play fetch. The little rascal is almost OCD about it.

The third category of toys was what I call ‘tugging’ toys. Something such as a rope or a stick would suffice as a tugging toy, but Abby could turn almost any toy into a ‘tugging’ toy. Abby would grab one end of the toy, and I the other. Then we would partake in our own version of tug-o-war. Abby, having strong jaws and being aggressive, was very good at this game. There were times when I would start to swing her around and around with the rope like she was on a ride at the carnival. As dangerous as this may sound, Abby always held on and never fell off. She absolutely loved it.

Something noteworthy is that Abby was the only dog that would play that game with me. Father and Andy would never tug at a toy that I had in my hand. Doing so, I guess, would have been confrontational and a challenge to my status in the pack. Father and Andy would play the tugging game with Abby. Abby, the fat lazy baby she could be, would lie on the floor with a toy in her mouth and entice Andy into playing with her. Andy, obliging her, would grab one end of the toy and start pulling with all his might. Abby wasn’t going to let go, so something had to give. The result would be Andy dragging Abby across the floor. To the unaware observer, Abby’s growling would have seemed unpleasant and hostile, but Abby was having a wonderful time whenever she could coax Andy, Father or me in to playing tug-o-war with her.

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