Tessa has a long and venerable history of being a grouchy bag. She was well socialized as a puppy but as she aged she wanted less and less to do with other dogs and more attached to her human pack. Lately she has been mostly house bound as she recovered from her broken leg. This afternoon when I went to put Reba and Joey back in jail I brought her out to enjoy the outstanding weather.
The dogs all came bounding towards me, which is often not a good thing when Tessa's in the 'hood, but tonight she went bouncing off with them. Curious to see what would happen *read doggy war* I stood back and watched. And was stunned with what I witnessed. Reba was wrestling with Bella, which means Joey becomes odd man out - usually choosing to hang around my legs making his attempts to play with me.
Today with Reba and Bella occupied, Tessa went racing off with Joey in close pursuit. Thinking he was living on the edge I prepared to intervene. Only I didn't have to!! Tessa would move like a cutting horse and Joey would bounce around her. I couldn't quite tell if he was having fun annoying her or if there was mutual pleasure involved. When they'd go racing I could hear her teeth snapping but she never made contact or dived towards him. Then the most amazing thing happened. They stopped running and bouncing and sat looking at each other. Tessa began licking Joey's face, periodically putting her paw on his shoulder. And then Joey reciprocated!! Including putting his paw on her. I thought for sure he was done for - that she'd beat the tar out of him for daring to touch her. But Queen Tessa tolerated it.
It was fascinating to watch the doggy dynamics. When Bella became curious and came over Tessa was on her feet staring at Joey, who was lying down wagging his tail. Bella, then also went down and began to wag. It seriously looked like Bella and Joey were saying "Come on Tessa, this is how you play. We like you and want you to play with us." Tessa broke off her stare and began running around with the other dogs!
I have a rudimentary understanding of dog language and behavior but now want to learn the fine points so I went on the Chapters site and looked up some dog behavior books. There are a couple that I'm interested in ordering. I will admit to being picky. Let's face it the animal world is full of self-professed experts on behavior but I want the science behind it and am more interested in the text book side of things.
I have to wonder is Tessa starting to act like a dog? Is she really willing and interested in playing? The drama unfolds...