Saturday, May 19, 2012

See Scout fetch. Fetch, Scout, fetch. Good dog.

Laser-like focus.
We've had Scout for nearly six months now. As a former stray who likely didn't associate a lot of positive outcomes with contact with people, she's really turning into a great domesticated dog. Scout has made a lot of advancements in social interaction, the area in which she was probably least experienced. She's now much more confident when meeting new people, usually taking only a few minutes to warm up to them. There's been a lot of learning between the two halves of this canine/human relationship, but one of the best cooperative projects has been playing fetch.

Early on, a ball held no particular meaning for her. She had no interest in chasing a ball thrown by a person, and would return only a bewildered look to an enthusiastic thrower. On her own, she would occasionally toss a ball into the air and chase it, but she would also do the same with a small stone, or a twig, or a squirrel carcass for that matter. A fuzzy yellow tennis ball may have been interpreted as some sort of prey, as I've found several tennis balls in the yard that have been skinned; bald tannish orbs with chunks of yellow pelt scattered nearby.

It's taken a while for Scout to realize that a ball can be a fun way to interact with people. Over the past couple of months and with the improving weather, a transition has taken place. She gets excited when one of us picks up a ball, and usually holds enough attention to fetch it several times in a row in our back yard.

Yesterday, for the first time outside our yard, I took her to a grassy field with the sole intent of playing fetch. She has a bit of a history of wandering, so I left her leash on to have something to grab in case she decided to have selective hearing when I wanted her to return to me. As it turns out, the leash precaution was unnecessary, and she did a terrific job of bringing me the ball. 
Scout is off after the ball with the speed of a P-51 on war emergency power.
In part speed, in part a low-tech phone camera contributed to a blurry image, but you get the idea.
Scout seemed to really enjoy the greater distance and speed afforded by playing fetch in the field as compared to our yard. I think I'm only just starting to find out how fast of a dog I've got. I know there are faster dogs out there, but I am truly amazed at the blazing speed she can muster.

We have a long way to go to achieve master fetching status of the Brandy variety, but it's a goal to shoot for. Next up, in addition to more ball fetching practice, will be the introduction of other objects, specifically flying discs, including the super cool glowing alien spacecraft type.
Displaying excellent technique all around, both throwing and fetching.
A big doggy smile after quite a few successful volleys.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post. But of course I would say that, the topic is full-on in my wheelhouse. Sounds like you're doing a stellar job, as is Scout. Dogs need jobs and I treat the capture and return of each thrown ball with the greatest enthusiasm (yes, I am *that* dork in the park), as if it somehow saved the human race from annihilation. Brandy's all-in and kills herself on every throw.

    Scout obviously hit the jackpot when she got rescued into your family. Glad she's responding so quickly and positively. Brandy's a rescue-ee too, btw - evacuated her from a bad situation at age 2. Some of the behavior from the abuse they've been through can never be totally erased, but dogs are so totally amazing in their ability to adapt and their desire to please - if they are just given some direction. It's a mere 6 months and I think Scout is only just beginning to flourish and adapt to her new role in her healthy new environs. Nicely done, and may you be the recipient of thousands of hurled and returned objects of all shapes and levels of luminescence.