Part 3 – Lily comes to Paw-some
Day 16 – Lily’s introductory session
Paw-some Dog is a cage-free day care and boarding facility in Los Angeles where the dogs enjoy a large play area with supervision. So every dog has to come in for a couple of hours where it is closely watched to make sure he or she can socialize with the other dogs. We pay very close attention to all of our new dogs’ behavior as we and the other dogs get to know each other.
Lily had her introductory session at Paw-some Dog on a day that we didn’t have that many dogs.
When Lily first came into Paw-some, she was nervous. She probably thought she was getting dropped off at the shelter and was scared. But once she saw me, Lily became instantly more comfortable but that was also because she knows me in a difference sense.
We introduced Lily the same way we introduce all our dogs. When a dog first comes into Paw-some, we don’t really know what interaction they may or may not have had, but in this case, we knew Lily had never before interacted off-leash with other dogs.
We took everyone out on to the play area and let Lily in. As we always do when we introduce new dogs, we kept her on leash but let her look around and get to know her new surroundings. The moment she went to the bathroom, we knew she was feeling comfortable. We take her off the leash and let her continue to check out the new environment. Lily was not showing any signs of aggression, more of curiosity and we knew it would be okay for her to meet some dogs.
As she continues, we let out a dog name Blue. He’s a senior mellow dog who we knew wouldn’t react. She runs up to Blue, they do their smells and part ways. Now we gain more confidence in Lily and it’s time for her to meet Angus and Cookie, two of our mellow labs. Once they meet and do their smells, Lily starts to run around excitedly. Slowly we take out more and more dogs, and Lily instantly finds a friend to play with. They start running and playing and now we know Lily was okay. Since Lily really never got the chance to grow up in her previous environments, she’s going to continuously be a very playful pup. After two hours of nonstop playing, it’s time for Lily to get picked up, but she isn’t ready to leave. She had so much fun.
Day 17 – Lily comes to Paw-some
The next day Lily comes into Paw-some bright and early. She’s one of the first dogs there, but that doesn’t stop her from finding a new best friend. She meets Arya, a very playful Somayed and as we joke, the rest is history. To give you an idea how playful Arya is with dogs, she has a step count on her collar, and she’s done 43,000 steps, equaling about 12-14 miles (we think based on our math and her stride size). Lily and Arya quickly became friends. They both play very similarly. On leash, Lily shows she’s a boxer mix and plays with her hands, off-leash, Lily more wrestles. Arya and Lily are running and wrestling the entire day. Like a lot of dogs on their first day of camp, Lily didn’t pace herself. The first few hours she played so hard and by mid-day, she was dragging her feet. (I was watching the camera all morning to see how she was doing.)
Lily would play and then run to the water. Because she knew me, when I came into the play area, she got extremely excited and immediately greeted me with love. A lot of times, when I enter the play area, I am greeted and then the dogs start playing. They all want their love and attention from me. Lily went back to Arya but kept checking in with me on the floor. While on the floor, I give the dogs some time to play and supervise. I get my pictures and videos for social media and to send to the owners just how awesome their dog is. Finally once everyone is done playing and starting to calm down, I sit on a bench or chair. Lily immediately sits with me. She’s still extremely over stimulated so is having a hard time lying down; sitting with me shows a sign of being comfortable.
As the day progresses, Lily continuously plays with Arya; however, we have a problem. Lily has not learned her name yet, and correcting Lily is becoming a challenge. We also use a spray bottle filled with water to get a dog’s attention, but Lily doesn’t care and wouldn’t respond to her name. A lot of times, when a new dog is rescued they don’t respond to their name, but in this case, she was just too busy playing. Eventually we learned loud, sudden sounds will get her attention.
Lily never showed a sign of aggression or anything but she was playing a little bit too rough for our liking. The game of Arya biting Lily’s cheeks and Lily eating Arya’s fur was on and they wrestled and ran all day. By the time Lily got picked up, she couldn’t even keep her head up. She was so excited to see her mom, but didn’t want to leave because it was so much fun. After finally coaxing her out of the lobby, I get a text from Nikki in the car that Lily went to bed the second she got in the car. It was a very successful day for Lily.
What makes Paw-some a perfect setting for Lily is she is trusting of me, she is being watched consistently and she is getting out her endless energy. She had initially lacked confidence, and as she keeps coming to Paw-some, she becomes more and more confident. When Lily comes on the floor, we don’t let her off the leash right away and we walk her on the floor with the leash. Otherwise, Lily would come on the floor without control. We generally do this with dogs who lack confidence when they first come to Paw-some.
What’s important about camp in general, is that a dog will learn other habits (either good or bad but hopefully good) from other dogs. How otherwise can a dog learn its cues if they never interacting with other dogs? It’s important for a dog to know if a dog wants to play, how the dog wants to play, and when the dog has had too much and is over the playing. With the help of Paw-some staff intervening, we try to let the dogs give each other their cues and corrections.
Paw-some Dog is different from other dog-care facilities. I, my general manager and my staff are all watching each dog’s behavior. This is something a lot of daycares and boarding facilities, even those that are cage-free, don’t do. We study each dog’s behavior because each dog, regardless of breed, has a unique personality.
Certain breeds do have tendencies, but each individual dog has a different disposition. For example, huskies will use their mouths when they play. Lily uses her mouth and paws when she plays and as mentioned before it’s more like wrestling. It’s very cute when Lily plays with Arya because somehow Lily ends up with a mouth full of white hair. Besides getting to bond with the dogs, getting to know their nature is an important part of Paw-some Dog.
For example, Whiskey is a golden retriever who comes to Paw-some regularly. Lily was very curious with him; however Whiskey didn’t care to learn about Lily. When Lily tried playing with Whiskey, he stops what he’s doing and raises a lip at Lily. We know Whiskey isn’t going to attack Lily, but in that scenario, Whiskey is telling Lily he doesn’t want to play. But Lily is still determined to make Whiskey her friend. Whiskey has learned Lily just wants to play, so now he doesn’t even raise a lip and just ignores her. Maybe one day she will understand he doesn’t want to play, or maybe one day he will play with her. This is something we could not teach Lily, but this is something she could only learn from other dogs.
If we don’t study each dog’s behavior, we wouldn’t know if the dog isn’t feeling well, is doing something out of character, or that this dog plays this way and it’s acceptable. We also want to keep the owners informed about their dog’s behavior. Since the dog does spend a lot of time with us, it’s important we are communicative with the owner about personality and behavioral issues. I’ve called owners myself to tell them “I don’t know what’s wrong but your dog isn’t acting normal”. That alone can be a tell-tale sign. We also want Paw-some to be a comfortable and enjoyable place. It’s distressing to us seeing a dog uncomfortable. Other facilities say they care, but at Paw-some Dog, we really care and really love all of our guests.