My large dog group was uh-maaaaazing today. I had the bulldog that can be a handful but ever since he tried to hump my leg last week just he follows me around constantly, complacent. His face is all scabbed up from playing too rough and I’ll sit around and rub his face. I think he’s in love with me. I had a bunch of usuals in the group: a bunch of goofy labs. Some old frumpy lady dogs. A few pariahs. My favorite german shepherd (the silvery one). A very pretty blonde husky. The pitbull who can be a little frustrating but today she was an angel. And a little whackadoo of a mouthy red heeler. The heeler and the husky and the pitbull all played very well-mannered with each other. I brought a couple of CDs with me (CDs!) and we all danced around to Hot Chip and Dutch Uncles. Then we all lounged and the german shepherd and the bulldog sat next to me, leaning.
Later on, when the other large dog room was dwindling in numbers, we combined rooms. This is pretty typical. We sometimes split up the large dog groups with the “relatively predictable” and high energy dogs in one room and the “weird play-style” dogs (puppies, a lot of boxers) and more reactive dogs in another, smaller room (easier to manage). Recombining towards the end of a shift after steady departures can be a little stressful. New dogs in the room! Introductions! Also, by this time, a lot of dogs are getting anxious about going home. But even after combining, all was fine. The puppies gave the husky something to do. The bulldog got a little toy possessive and I gave him a time-out. Some labs tried to mount each other aggressively and I gave them a time-out. All other introductions were carried out peacefully and soon, everyone was back to lounging or playing (with good manners).
There’s a dog that’s been coming there for a long time. An old frump of a pariah dog. She doesn’t really care for new people and will bark nonstop at them. When I first started working in the daycare, it was for the entire shift almost. Now she just barks at me when I get stressed out. She’s become a kind of barometer for how I am affecting the mood of the room and when I need to be given a time-out.