Pick up sticks
Dogs are so smart, far smarter than we give them credit. Almost weekly, I have a "wow" canine moment. This past weekend when we had our little foster guests at our home; Elsa was on a mission. Her mission was to get this little, tiny canine to play. As you all know Elsa loves to play; she loves to play more than anything else. She doesn't care if you are canine or human; she's up for a good rough and tumble. So when she was faced with a dog who wanted nothing to do with her, she had a big job in front of her.
First they had to get the "how do you do's" out of the way and then it was play time. Each and every time Elsa tried to play the puppy sat staring at her. If Elsa made a playful leap in the puppy's direction she went running for cover. Sprout had obviously not had a great deal of play experience in her life thus far. This was going to be a lot of work for Elsa; not only did she need to break through the fear factor of Sprout, but there was the huge size difference to consider. If Elsa had been closer to Sprouts size it might have been a little less daunting of a task.
So she tried and she tried; Elsa tried everything she knew to get the little puppy to play. She threw her toys in the air, across the room and down the stairs. She shook the toys until I thought that she would give herself whiplash. Elsa jumped and leapt around making it look like she was having the best time of her life; but the puppy wasn't buying it. Sprout sat safely under a chair watching.
Before the first day ended there was a glimmer of play in Sprouts eye. She was starting to understand what all this crazy behavior was from Elsa. I had Elsa lay down so that she wasn't quite so large comparatively. This really helped as Sprout came out from the chair and had a sniff; she even made an almost play bow but then ran for cover again. By the next day things were changing; Sprout was not running for cover nearly as much. Of course when Elsa came charging and pouncing in her direction, she hid. But Sprout was following Elsa around and Elsa was quite enjoying being the boss; she's a pretty bossy girl.
Then the breakthrough moment appeared. Elsa stood staring, watching Sprout intently; as she had done since her arrival, she got an idea. We were all sitting outside under a tree. Luke was laying peacefully in the shade; Sprout was sniffing around with Elsa watching. Sprout picked up a stick, a tiny stick; fitting for a very tiny puppy. I took it away as she started to chew it. That was Elsa's moment; she saw what the puppy wanted and knew then what to do. She immediately picked up a stick and brought it over to Sprout. Backing away as Elsa loomed over her; Sprout stared at the stick. Sprout looked shocked that Elsa had brought her a stick and when she reached out to get it, Elsa grabbed it and ran off. She immediately brought it back and tried again. She reached down, offering Sprout the stick in her mouth and she took the bait, finally. The game was on.
The whole process was amazing to watch as it unfolded. Elsa was beyond dedicated in her pursuit of a game. Her thought process was undeniable and her ability to teach another, impeccable. The two shared a stick moment; with Elsa picking all the sticks up and offering them to Sprout. Finally Elsa lay down beside Sprout as they enjoyed a bit of stick chewing together. A tiny stick had been the key that would break down the wall. Elsa saw the tiny stick as an opportunity and took it.
They are truly amazing; aren't they?