Since the day Flipflop started daycare, he was the teacher, he would teach the shy new dogs the lay of the land, before returning to his own pack in the “school” yard. He would teach his fosters to trust and play.
As Flipflop matured, so did his engagement and interaction with other dogs. I often say, I broke Flipflop by fostering. He used to be carefree, he still is in a way, but he only wants to interact with his friends. He has no interest in meeting dogs, and he is very selective on who he wishes to engage with.
I have learned to watch his queues. If he doesn’t want to say hi to a dog I let the other owner know, Flipflop needs his space, but their dog is more the welcome to say hello to Dahlia.
Dahlia is the polar opposite of her brother now. After she learned trust, she eventually learned she was safe, and more importantly, she learned that no human was ever going to harm her again. Today she is so far removed from the shell of a dog she used to be. These days, she demands to be pet by anyone who acknowledges her and wants to be friends with all dogs, all sizes, all ages.
To try and cater to both my dogs’ needs, as we approach other dogs, I always make sure Flipflop feels secure, by giving him space to go behind me and I give Dahlia some slack on her lead so she can say hello. This seems to work well, however; lately something has changed.
I’ve noticed in recent weeks, Flipflop is starting to want to meet dogs, as Dahlia is saying hi, he will slowly go up to them and give a sniff. If the dog is very hyper, Flipflop tends to run back to his safety with me, but more and more he’s become the social dog he used to be.
I can’t help to think the student, Dahlia, has become the teacher to her baby brother. Three years ago he taught her trust, play and love, and now she is reminding him of the simple joy in life of saying hello to a fellow dog while out for walks.
It warms my heart to see Flipflop making new friends and coming out of his shell again. He’s got such a playful spirit so I hope through Dahlia’s persistence to say hello and try to play with every dog she meets, Flipflop is learning to engage his friendly side again and he will no longer worry, that every dog he meets will become a foster sibling and he will have to share his mom!