The story goes... Today I had more work to do than normal. After several minutes of quiet I started to get worried and went to check on Cattle Dog Blue.
That is where and how I found this. This little champion.. Working on a work project all his own. Adjusting it, fixing it up, perfecting it, getting it just how he likes it before he feels good about leaving his make believe workspace on the kitchen floor to come check on and socialize with me.
So the question is... did he destroy or did he make a masterpiece out of the toy?
Here is my vote and my reasoning. And hopefully it might help others struggling with their own mentally active dogs.
At first glance, this is messy. But it is also beautiful. And it's a good sign for us. Puppy can make his own fun! This means he has the ability to:
1. Choose a dog safe item
2. Keep himself busy and tire himself out by working on his toy 3. Feel confident and safe enough to be free.. make something all his own without help or someone telling him how, what, when, where, etc. what magic.
And what a beautiful thing seeing the satisfaction on his face when I walk into the room. He is so proud of himself.
To me, this is his work. It’s a project that he made up.. all on his own to keep himself busy while I am doing MY work. And truly, he’s a working type of dog. So I have to be honest with myself that if it’s not this project, he’s going to find another one.. one I might not like as much or might be more dangerous for him. So a little heeler puppy who chooses a job like this instead of a job like chasing or barking at people in the house, etc.. of all the things he COULD do, he chose this. So for that, I call this a masterpiece.
I think it’s hard for us as humans to remember that there is no right or wrong, no good or bad when it comes to having fun. No naturally engrained “rules”. What’s “right” is different depending on the individual, the culture, the environment. So where a person might see a toy as being “ruined” by a dog shredding it, the dog might see it as perfect! Just what he had in mind for this item!
Dogs don’t know what we think play “should” look like. They don’t know about rules we have for specific items. They are in a sense free from all of that. They likely wouldn’t choose to have toys that can’t be bit or chewed or destroyed; What a strange and foreign concept to a dog. Chew it, but not too hard. Keep yourself busy, but don’t pull the fluff out. What a crazy concept for a dog to understand. And I definitely don’t want to limit his fun because of my made up rules. After-all, a child’s “art” might not look beautiful to us but it’s beautiful because the child was free to express themselves, to share a talent with us, to feel safe and able to explore their creativity within limits they hardly know exist in the first place. There is beauty and a lesson in everything, we just need to learn to see it.
So.. let them play.
Let them chew and destroy and shred away.
Let them destuff and de-fluff and throw all the stuffing around the room.
Let them romp and run and praise them when they shred their little toys to smithereens.
Because their projects are projects too. And whoever says always choose fashion over function never met a Cattle Dog named Blue.
Author: Katelin Thomas,
K9 Turbo Training