The Rules of Engagement

Most of our foster puppies promise to remember us always and then quickly forget when they find their forever homes. How do I know? Many come back for class or reunions. I may get a passing hello, but they are much more interested in playtime with the dogs than visiting with me.

An exception: Baby Sara – now named Jessie. You may recall from a past post, Jessie is the offspring of a Golden mom and a dad of many colors.

She was born and reared feral in a field until a woman living nearby could win mom’s trust. Since Jessie would not leave mom’s side, she had to choice but to be caught too – but unhappily so.

Our volunteers worked hard to socialize her enough for her to come home with us where my Yogi and Jackson completed the job.

She was adopted by a wonderful family and their Lab, Harper. Jessie helped to fill an empty spot in all of their hearts after the loss of their other dog.

Harper is very protective of her new sister. So much so, that if they are in class together, Harper spends all of her time keeping the other dogs away from Jessie. It was not a good example for Jessie, and was not providing the socialization she needed, so Jessie takes her classes solo now. When she spots me…she comes running into my arms and will not settle into class until our greeting is completed with belly rubs and kisses.

She is a little dog who thinks she is a big dog – until she gets rolled a couple of times in play and then she retreats to a corner. So she was delighted to make a new friend this weekend at school: Gracie.

Gracie is a four-month old Golden who—despite towering over Jessie—is also a little leery of the bigger dogs.

They are well matched: Even with those little legs, Jessie can outrun Gracie – but Gracie uses her height…

and weight…to her advantage when she catches up.

Still, Jessie was clearly laying down the rules of engagement.

Dogs are excellent teachers.

Jessie: That’s too ruff…I’m not playing with you until you calm down.

Gracie: Ah come on….

Gracie: You can’t resist me…

Jessie: Nope. Not working.

Gracie: What if I say I’m sorry?

Gracie: What if I am adorable???

Jessie: OK, we can be friends again. Just watch yourself!

It’s so wonderful to watch her grow and blossom.

Her mama would be really proud. I sure am.

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I am a nascent gardener, rescuer, and photographer, chronicling the journey of the dogs at Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary near Sacramento, CA - and the Memorial Garden we have devoted to them.

14 thoughts on “The Rules of Engagement”

  1. Bravo to the photographer (and former foster mom) for capturing each stage of this negotiation between Jessie and Grace, and oh man, what a sweet performance Gracie put on to apologize and seduce Jessie into playing again. And bravo to Jessie for knowing how to set boundaries!

  2. Awww, what a great story! I DO remember Jessie’s original story (without even re-reading it!). So glad the little one has a new friend! Seeing the pictures reminded me of when we took Callie to her first classes – her best Buddy was a Corgi named Rutger and they always had fun tangling with each other before class began.

  3. Wonderful dog to dog lesson. Love the pictures that tell the story !! Good work Gracie and Jessie. XOXOXO.

  4. Love this story in words and pictures, Audrey! I went to the blood lab this morning for a standard test and there was a man there with a 9 week old Golden puppy, who he was training as his support animal. The waiting room was full of smiles and conversations as sociable Samson made his visiting rounds and his Dad was engaged with questions and friendly conversations. After they left, it was back to the usual quiet withdrawn atmosphere. What a difference a dog makes!!!!

    1. Indeed! I think puppies should be allowed in all stressful places. Good for them to become socialized…and great for humans who need some relief. 🙂

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