Thursday, 29 August 2013

Breaking News!

Making new friends is never easy.  This is particularly true if you are a 23kg Staffy crossbreed who lacks social awareness.  Luckily, a year ago Caesar and I found two great friends, following a rather eventful hour of attempting to do agility.  Amazingly, for once Caesar's irritating screeching had caught the right person's attention.  Emma and her dog Tango found us after the session and Emma offered to help me to socialise the noisy dog.  We've never looked back since.

Caesar and Tango on one of their first walks together.
It took Caesar 3 walks to stop barking and jumping
towards Tango.

Until Emma moved around an hour away from here, we had walked almost weekly but over the past months it had been difficult with holidays and Fly Ball season in full swing for Emma and Tango.  So, Emma suggested we visited her in her new house one night after work and, reluctantly, I agreed.  It wasn't that I didn't want to visit Emma and I really looked forward to seeing her new house, my worry was that, now that she had moved in with her partner, there were four dogs living under their roof.  Caesar struggles to manage one dog.  I expressed my concerns to Emma who tried to calm them with promises of long walks and crates and treats.  I tried to feel better but I couldn't help but worry.  What if Caesar did something to one of her partner's dogs?  'Hi, my name is Sian and that's my dog Caesar, the one that is mauling your pet...'

When I pulled up outside Emma's house, an hour after setting off, I already felt stressed.  I don't love driving at the best of times and after my recent breakdown meltdown, I didn't feel particularly confident.  "Give me the lead," she said.  "You're stressed and Caesar will feel the tension."  Seeing me stall for a second, she repeated calmly;  "It's fine.  Give me the lead."  I didn't feel fine.  I felt like saying; 'Nice to see you Emma, lovely house but I'm off home now,'  however, I'd come this far so I steadied my hand and passed the olive green lead to my friend.  I would trust Emma to the end of the earth with Caesar.  She knows him inside out and back to front.  Perhaps, in hindsight, she knew more about him than I did.  The person I didn't trust, was myself.  If Caesar did something, I would freeze, I knew it.  I liked to be in control, that was things didn't happen and I didn't have to react to them.  "I'll let Tango in first," Emma was saying, getting Tango from the car, "Caesar can follow him in."  Tango was exhausted, he'd been at 'daycare' all day where he has plenty of time to swim and play but comes home and wants to relax.  Tonight, he would have no such joy as his boisterous Staffy friend wanted nothing more than to play.  As soon as Caesar saw Tango his tail started to wag and he let out a few token barks.  As we entered the house, and to my complete mortification, Emma glanced over her shoulder at me and said "I'm going to drop the lead now."  I didn't think this was a good idea and said as much.  Emma looked at me reassuringly, "it's fine." she said, "he'll be fine.  And if he's not, we will pick the lead back up."  Caesar bounced into the front room, three of the four dogs were there, including Tango, who was certainly not in the mood for his antics.  Tonight, I would find out the truth about Caesar's reaction to dogs.

Tango was in no mood for Caesar's antics after a day of swimming and playing.

Jumping, barking and playing, Caesar was having a whale of a time.  I stood, hands on hips, shaking my head in disbelief.  Emma was smiling too.  He sniffing and jumping on all of the dogs.  Yes, he was boiserous and, at times, silly, but the reason behind his noises was confirmed; he wanted to play.  All of this time, all of this crazy behaviour and the bottom line was that he only wanted to play.  Unfortunately, the other dogs didn't and, at times did have to tell him this quite firmly.  Caesar didn't appear to understand that they didn't want to play with him so pushed them to the limit at times but when he eventually did get the point, he backed away barking and howling confused by their reaction.  I was amazed to see that Emma and her partner were more concerned that their dogs hurting Caesar.  "You're joking aren't you?" I laughed.  I let out a sigh that I'd been holding in for 18 months.  There was nothing malicious about Caesar at all.

After only half an hour at Emma's house,
Caesar (left) goes for a walk with four other dogs!

Fifteen minutes after we'd first entered the house, Caesar was in the garden with four other dogs.  I watched in amazement as he found his feet with them.  "He just wants to play," Emma told me, confirming my thoughts.  I nodded.  The walk that followed was the best we've ever had.  Emma lives near a forest that is rarely used and suggested we allow Caesar off for a run, now we were certain that he was only being friendly.  "OK." I agreed, a little more enthusiastically.  Caesar ran around in the forest and surrounding fields for almost an hour and a half.  He found a new friend; Zac, who possibly didn't like being chased as much as Caesar thought he did.  Caesar liked him so much that he would not let him out of his sight, everywhere Zac went, Caesar followed over enthusiastically.  He also found time to follow Pebbles and Phoenix, paying the least attention to his old friend Tango.  I felt sad about this but concluded that, after a full day of swimming and playing, Tango was probably glad that his over-enthusiastic friend had turned his focus onto someone else for a change.  

That can't be Caesar!  Is it?

After our ninety minute walk, we sat and enjoyed a pizza while chatting about our success.  Zac even began to lick Caesar in a show of affection, though he didn't like it when Caesar tried to sniff him back.  It was ten o'clock before I knew it and, with an ongoing feeling of elation at our success, I popped Caesar in the car and, thanking Emma, set off for home.  Caesar was silent for the whole trip and only woke up when we pulled up outside the familiar townhouse that we call 'home'.  Making new friends is tiring work!

Did he just say 'pizza'?