Lollie can be playful too

I wrote last week about Lollie, about my struggles with coming to terms with her dog aggressiveness and my role in contributing to it. It was a long post and took a lot out of me. But it is true and real. But it is also not the whole story. Lollie is a dog that is very intense…in good and bad ways, or rather, in ways that I like and ways that challenge me.

Lollie - June 2008One incident has always stayed with me. Lollie was in the height of her dog aggressiveness when my son was just a toddler. Lollie was sound asleep on her pillow when my newly walking son tripped and fell completely across her. He fell hard. He fell like a board, no knee down first just a full out topple. Lollie woke with a screaming child sprawled across her (my son didn’t like falling) and all she did was struggle to her feet, blinking her eyes, trying, it seemed, to orient herself. She did not lash out, she did not growl, she did not cringe, she did not cry out herself. She just got up, dazed, figured out what was going on and when she realized he had fallen she wagged her tail and looked sheepish, like she was somehow responsible. That has always stayed with me. That in her most vulnerable, awakened in a way that must have been completely startling and very likely painful, she was not the least bit aggressive. I would have woken with a growl, I am sure of it. I am not joking. I do not take kindly to being woken up, even gently. That she responded in that way has always amazed me. I must admit it has made me feel safe about my son and her playing together.

Lollie & a pup

Lollie & a pup at play

Another story comes to mind. My son’s was a bit older, like 3, and I was working in the yard. I became aware that he wasn’t pestering me and I went looking for him. I saw him sitting next to Lollie who was panting hard (it was a very very hot day). He was throwing grass into her mouth, covering her tongue. She ignored it until her tongue was completely coated and then she would close her mouth, work the grass out, and begin panting again. He would laugh and begin throwing grass into her mouth again. Needless to say I “rescued” her from him but again, her complete tolerance of him really touched me.

Lollie is the only one in the pack who knows who each of us are by name and will “go get” each of us on command. Including the dogs. She is the only one I trust off leash because she is so attached to me she won’t go far for long. And she is the only one who really likes playing with me, frisbee, ball, whatever. When I was taking her to agility classes it was clear that she loved to please me. But she was so sensitive that whenever I got frustrated with myself (or her) she would completely shut down and refuse to work anymore. But when we were good, working as a team, and we finished a run well, I would say, “yeah! Good GIRL Lollie!” and she would JUMP into my arms, wriggling with joy, knowing I was proud of her, knowing she did good.

Here is a video of her and I playing frisbee in our snowy yard, with Bella and Hermes joining in: