It all started on a rainy afternoon 8 years ago when we rescued a little puppy from the pouring rain. We weren’t equipped for dog and didn’t know anything apart from the basics of dog-rearing that day, but it was from that moment that our learning began.
Cuckoo is an exceptional dog, she doesn’t accept things, she pushes and believes in making things happen. In those initial days, we spent hours on YouTube and Google, watching and reading, and Cuckoo pushed us to do more.
Her use of her mouth constantly had me learning quickly to imitate a puppy in play, yelping and yipping to indicate pain, to draw lines and boundaries. I learned the importance of litter-mates and of being one.
A few months rolled by and we got hit by separation anxiety, only we didn’t know it. Leaving her alone at home meant coming home to nasty dirty surprises. She never seemed to go for the same things twice. We’d had to tackle the separation anxiety monster at many levels, from never scolding when we walked in to getting her a companion.
It was Sentimeter, our second dog who finally put the monster to rest, only to combine and team-up with Cuckoo to form the demolition team. Cuckoo, a gangly , leggy dog, could reach anywhere and Senti could chew through anything. The surprises that awaited us on return, had changed but not stopped. It was time and slow conditioning/training that brought that team to a halt.
Then came 7 year old Buddha into our lives. He was a reserved dog, he took a week to venture out into the balcony but over the years I watched him blossom and transform into a different dog. This new Buddha could stand his own, he was terrified of firecrackers but he could intimidate dogs 10 times his size we realised when William walked in to our home.
William and Max, at 8 & 7 respectively were full grown dogs. Not small like the others but large – an American Retriever and Labrador. They has unknown abuse history and trust issues. Those initial few months of getting to know them had me on tenterhooks constantly as I negotiated snarls and mock charges. In getting to know them I learned the importance of personal space, the sanctity of sleep, respect and earning trust.
And then came Elu, a 3 month old indi puppy we fell in love with on Facebook. She has the eyes of Krishna, you can see the cosmos in them. Jovial and persistent, she made the resistant oldies young again. Refusing to accept no as an answer, she slowly won over every dog, getting them to play all over again.
Over the years as my pack grew, I have learned so much from each of them. Every one of them is different, with vastly different personalities and likes & dislikes. But two things they all want unanimously – time and love.
And these were two things I thought I was giving them in abundance until one day I suddenly realised I wasn’t. I hadn’t stopped loving them, or spending time with them but these had over the years stopped being mindful activities. I walked them, fed them, combed them, cleaned them and after them but that didn’t seem enough. I wanted to have simple joyful fun with them but with 5 dogs, each with different interests, this was a challenge.
And it is out of this challenge that Happy Tailz games was born. Games that all of them loved (yep each game is approved by all of them), sit down games that I could play with them almost anywhere and anytime. Giving each dog one on one time that not only did they enjoy but that I had so much fun doing too.
And I’ll let you into a secret – I thought I knew my dogs inside out, but in playing I’m getting to know them all over again. Like the Portuguese proverb says “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”
“Mais descobre huma hora de jogo, que hum anno de conversação.”