What to do when your dog invites you to play?

You PLAY with your dog; that's what you do. Why not reward your dog's initiative? Yesterday I came home after a very frustrating round of golf (in a tournament at my club), and I just wanted to sit down in the back yard with a beer and some cheese and crackers -- mostly so I could cry in the beer. And then I look up and see this, or at least a slightly more current version of it. I say "more current version" because Callie has gained about twenty five pounds since this photo was taken. img_5353-3.jpg Callie would stand there for an hour, I think, waiting for me to play soccer with her. And I guess she has me right where she wants me, because I can't "just sit there" when she's making such a lovely invitation. Here's what our soccer games look like. [youtube = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4jkyC40njo] As Callie matures, the nature of the game changes a little. She doesn't stop to munch the grass and bushes as much as she used to. And, tragically, she's almost too big now to squeeze through the orange tunnel. She can make it, but it's pretty funny to watch her push the ball through. I guess we need to look for a bigger tunnel. The other change is that her tummy is higher now than it used to be. So it's easier for me to kick the ball when she traps it under her body. So sometimes she tries to pinch the ball between her front legs, or her hind legs, to make it a little harder. She's a real competitor! (But I'm careful not to let the game get to a point where she becomes aggressive or real excited.) Like Jamie ("My Doggie Says..."), Callie is good about drinking lots of water, both before and after her exercise. When she knows it's time for a walk, she goes to her water dish for a nice big drink. But there's an interesting difference. Jamie was always content to drink water from a bowl. Callie will drink water from a bowl, if it's fresh, but she prefers to drink water that's being poured or squirted, like water coming out of a fountain. When we stop in the middle of our walk to give Callie some water, she likes to drink from the stream of water as we pour it from the bottle into her dish. Like Jamie, she also likes to drink from the neighbors' water sprinklers. And if we fill the water bowl in her crate by drizzling water in from above the crate, she drinks from the stream of pouring water instead of from the bowl. All of which is a comment on how dogs' breeding preserves some of the most basic instincts for survival. If you're out in the wilds, of course it's better to drink running water than stagnate water. If you want to push this a little farther, you can buy a small fountain that creates a running stream of water for your dog or cat. I just get a kick out observing the differences between Jamie and Callie, both of whom were purebred Golden Retrievers. Is your dog inviting you to play? What are you waiting for? What better way to nurture your relationship?