Ellie and Rack’s First Play Date

For a while now, I have been walking with a pack.   A small pack of three people, two dogs. 

Across the street in one of the duplexes live Lisa and her son Bill.  They have a “middle aged” dog Ellie.  Ellie is a mixed breed rescue who was an owner surrender that the owner grew too old to take care of.  She got placed with them without the trauma of going through the shelters and has grown to be a good guard dog.

With apartment living what it is, especially in an urban or suburban environment, Ellie does not get a lot of time to just “be”.  She doesn’t have a place that she can get out and run around loose and sniff the palm trees, water the hibiscus, crop the grass… you know, normal “dog” stuff.  While dogs can do that on a leash, there’s something more rewarding to just cut loose and be yourself. 

Think about how you feel when 5PM Friday comes along and you will understand Ellie well.

The other day, Bill marched over to the house and asked a favor.  “Can I let Ellie loose in the backyard?  Maybe let Rack out and they can go run around off leash for a while!”.

Sure!  Sounds fun!

Bill almost immediately got Ellie.  I had just finished a job app to a local jurisdiction here and was looking for something to clear my head so this would be just the thing.

Ellie tried to go in our front door, so patterned by being indoors that Bill had to drag her over to the gate to the pool equipment and the yard beyond.

At that time, semi freedom loomed.

Ellie got to the backyard and acted confused.  She didn’t really know what to do with this “Space”.  She was wandering over to the back door looking to be let in just as I got there to let Rack out and had to convince Ellie that no, you are allowed to Just Be A Dog for as long as you need to so stay out in the South Florida Sun for a while.

My standing in the way of the door nudged Ellie out of the way, and my own black and white dart was right behind.  Rack charged through the now empty door and then it began to click.

Rack is now 14 months old and still very much a puppy.  Whenever he sees Ellie, first he tries to convince her to Play! then he calms down and bounces around the place.  The only place Rack is quiet is inside the house. 

Ellie started wandering around with Rack trying to convince her to play when it all came to pass.

The fawn colored Ellie started to run around the yard, sometimes with Rack in front and other times behind.  It only took one or two times of Rack doing the “Let’s Play” stance in front of her for Ellie to shake off some of the mental solitary confinement dust and learn once again to play. 

Watch out low hanging lemons, there was about 100 pounds of two dogs running around the pool at full speed acting goofy for the first time in a very long time.  Weaving between the fruit trees in pots, behind the pool, around the big palm tree “twenty-leven” times and finally discovering the pool.

They didn’t actually jump in, that would be too much to try first time out.  Rack doesn’t yet understand that pools can be fun and has only been in the water once.  He’s afraid of his own shadow mostly, and since Ellie didn’t have a clue what the pool was used for, she gave it wide berth.

While this unleashed excitement was going on, the three humans just stood around gap jawed and amused.  It’s best to stand back and let the dogs have their freedom.  You just don’t get to borrow a yard all that often and when it happens, make use of it.

Sure there are dog parks in the area.  Wilton Manors is small but there are two within a mile of me, and another one just over the line in Fort Lauderdale.  But dog parks can be constrained situations and usually you have to be careful of what lurks there.  I’d just rather keep my size 11 boots clean thank you. 

I guess we’re lucky to have seen it.  Ellie literally was piecing it all together as it happened.   Rack is used to my little 50 by 150 slice of the tropics, so it’s nothing special for him, but for an apartment dweller it is important to just get out and crop the grass under the bougainvillea once in a while for fun.

So much fun that they didn’t even get to use Rack’s favorite spot, in the sun, under the big palm tree, stretched out in the grass and soaking it all in.

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