The dog and I went for a walk, even though it was raining. He went on three bunny chases. One was clearly just optimism. No bunny; he just hoped a bunny would be there when he got there. The second was a genuine bunny, but it was so close to the woods that it was gone by the time the dog had taken three steps toward it. The third time, though, I think was just for fun. He got back from the second run, seemed so happy with having done it, and he took off again.
I mean, I don’t blame him. Bunny chases are awesome. He sprints off as fast as he can. He comes to a screeching halt. He stares intently into the woods, sometimes pacing a little, and then he comes ambling back to me so that I can take his leash again. All the while I’m telling him what a good boy he is and how brave he is for taking on the bunny and how proud I am of him coming back when he’s called.
I need to remember to get a ball the next time I’m at Petco or Tractor Supply. When we first got him, he was not interested at all in Fetch. It seemed to hurt his feelings that we would throw his stuff away from him.
But now he seems to enjoy playing. I mean, he’s not serious about catching the bunnies or he’d be sneakier about it. It’s just fun for him to chase after them. I mean, two out of three bunny chases today, there was no bunny. And he’s gotten much better about coming when he’s called and he really seems to enjoy the part of bunny chasing where he returns to me with effusive praise.
I wonder now if he might enjoy Fetch. But, oh boy, I am wondering if I can do it–train him to play Fetch. I’m not even sure how I got him to start coming pretty consistently when he’s called. I mean, I know at some level, it’s constant repetition, strong expectations, and rewards he likes. But the things I’ve managed to train this dog to do are mostly matters of grave importance–like recall and not walking like a complete doofus on the leash–or are building off skills he already had–like he likes to get up on the couch, so training him what “up” meant was not difficult.
And I think he could definitely learn to play Fetch. But, y’all, I’m not sure I’m smart enough to take this dog and give him a whole new skill. But I think he would love it, so I want to try. If he’s willing to stick with his hill-rolling-down practice even when it terrified him so that he could reach these days of happily rolling down the hill, I should be willing to work on my Fetch training skills even when it’s hard so that we can get to happy days of me throwing a ball and him running after it.