The other day I was speaking to a journalist about Adventures with Karlie and she asked what was the message of the book. What takeaway did I want people to have? I told her it was two-fold – to spend time doing what makes your dog happy, regardless of his/her health, and to spend time engaging with your dog. So often people take their dog for a short walk while checking their cell phone and toss a ball for 5 minutes and think this is enough. Your dog wants to spend quality time with you, just like your kids do. Find out what makes your dog happy and do that as often as you can. This is what we did with Anna and Karlie and then Karlie and now Sunny. Not every dog will want to go on hiking adventures like Karlie and Sunny do, but there is something that brings your dog joy. Your job is to find out what it is and find ways to do it.
Tennis Balls Made Karlie Happy
In addition to hiking, Karlie LOVED tennis balls. In fact she was a little obsessed with them. She wanted to chase them ALWAYS. Even when she started to lose mobility in her back end, we still found a way for her to chase a ball. We switched to a soft orange Chuck-It ball because it was bigger and easier for her to grasp. We also tossed the ball much more gently and at shorter distances. Eventually we only played inside because it was easier for her to “run” across the carpet than the uneven grass. Regardless she smiled and chased the ball with such joy. We played like this until her last few days.
Chasing Leaves Makes Sunny Happy
Sunny LOVES and is obsessed with chasing leaves. She is not as smiley of a dog as Karlie, but she smiles from ear to ear when she is watching and chasing leaves. I take her outside to chase leaves every afternoon because she loves it. It brings me joy to watch how happy something so simple makes her. I wonder if this will be a lifelong love as chasing a ball was for Karlie.
The other day I was watching a training video and the trainer said “our dogs just want to have fun”. She’s right and they will find a way to have fun with or without you. You may not like what they think is fun – pulling on the leash, chewing shoes, stealing things, or digging holes. If you find out what your dog likes to do and regularly engage in it, you’ll be amazed how their behavior improves. When your dog is engaged, happy, and gets regular interaction they don’t need to find their own fun. You are their fun.
What makes your dog happy? What do you do with your dog that brings out her joy?