At the moment, I’m in charge of looking after our dog, Lenny, and our son’s dog, Sharon. Both dogs are retired Greyhounds, both big, beautiful, and black, and you may think they’d be thrilled to bits to be having a ‘play date’ together, wouldn’t you?
In the photograph are the two dogs —Sharon on the left and Lenny on the right. They’ve settled down with Lenny lying next to his dog bed, partly on some of his squeaky toys and his blanket. that he often drags off his bed. Sharon is lying down near me, as I’m playing Pokemon Go on my phone …
So these two dogs are both sharing the lounge room, lying down with only a metre of space between them, so they’re friends, right? Wrong! Look at the ears — Lenny’s ears are in their slightly interested mode, because I’d just called his name, to get this photo, while Sharon’s ears are pulled to the back of her skull, indicating she is not at all comfortable to be there, even though it was her choice to lie down there.
Lenny had walked over and plonked himself down after Sharon did. Earlier, when Sharon arrived, both Greyhounds had their ears up a lot more, Lenny’s half pricked and attentive, but Sharon’s half pricked but pulled back to show she wasn’t happy. She was also walking up on her toes, legs stiff and gait slow and deliberate.
To my eye, Sharon looked like she was not in the mood for being good buddies with Lenny (far from it actually), while Lenny, who was more bouncing around, with his ears flicking around from attentive to unsure and back, looked like he was going to leave it up to Sharon to decide how things might go. Sharon’s hackles had been up all along her back, while Lenny’s hackles had only been up a little, and went down again promptly.
I suspect Lenny is a happier dog than Sharon anyway — she likes to just calmly go about her business every day, although I know she does like to play with her squeaky toys when she’s at home, because I’ve seen it, when we’ve visited (without Lenny). When we’ve visited Sharon at her place, with Lenny coming along too, Sharon does the up on her toes, hackles up thing too, but she settles down faster at her home, and Lenny tends to keep calmly out of her way.