we learn to play

 

Researching deaf dogs, I have come across the theory that they fail to learn ‘soft mouth’ play because they are unable to hear their litter mates’ squeaks of pain.

This would certainly explain Isis’s approaches. Routinely, she  grabs my hand or foot with her teeth. She holds her ‘prey’ down with a firm paw. Then she licks the skin (to soften it up?) before settling down to an affectionate gnaw.

Unfortunately, the gnawing gradually becomes more intense until I shriek and push her away. There’s not a shred of malice in her. It’s as though I were a large, tasty stick.

Her other amusement is molesting paper and plastic bags. Poo bags are a favourite. She nibbles open the sealed end.

The consequences for me can be quite unpleasant.

On occasion, I coax her to play tugging with a soft toy or a rubber ring, but she quickly loses interest. And she never picks up a toy up herself.

Tuesday evening, however, is different. She trots past me jauntily, holding aloft a plastic bottle. She is obviously very pleased with herself. The bottle has been discarded by Jo. Isis has discovered it on her early evening waste-bin patrol.

She is thrilled with her trophy. Taking it into her bed, she tosses it and reclaims it,  bites on it joyfully, lets it roll away from her, then pounces on it. If it rolls too far she snuffles along the floor searching for it. She parades up and down with it. She plays on her own, completely absorbed, for about twenty minutes. I am delighted.

Much later, I am in bed, dozing off. Loud crackles and bumps from below. What is she demolishing now?

I leap up and am half way down the stairs before I remember the plastic bottle!

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