I was starting to get excited now, but I was also nervous about how the introductions would go.
We agreed to meet at a park in Glasgow; a neutral territory. I often talk to clients about adopting confident posture when handling their dogs, so I’m well aware of how that should look. But I can also empathise with them as it’s easier said than done! So this was my time to practice as I preach.
I entered the park and walked along the path, Oshi and Yuna by my side on their long lines. They were very relaxed, taking in the new environment. It was our first time here so lots for them to see, hear, sniff and for Yuna to roll in!
We turned a corner and there he was…this beautiful white Shiba. I was smitten immediately. I kept my distance and slowly made my way towards him, allowing Oshi and Yuna to decide if/when/how they wanted to interact.
I could feel myself tense up a little at this point and Jessie, also a trainer, noticed this immediately. “Drop the leads”, she said. I hesitated. This is not common practice or something I would recommend unless you are very fluent in reading dog body language and have a wealth of knowledge and experience in dog behaviour.
I made a calculated decision to drop the leads based on the information available to me from observing all three dogs. I was also ready to intervene if necessary.
Yuna said a quick, polite hello and decided to go about her own business and leave the boys to talk.
The boys approached each other a little more cautiously. In proper textbook dog-dog interaction fashion, they approached each other in an arc shape and subtly sniffed each others’ rear. They then circled around for a face to face sniff. I won’t lie, my heart was in my mouth by this point, even though the interaction was lovey so far.
Within around 10 seconds, Oshi bowed and his high-set, sickle tail slowly began to wag. This is his “chase me, mate” display. I started to breathe again and the boys went off for a game of chase. I was thrilled.
The following hour and a half was filled with lots of lovely interactions between all three dogs, but particularly between Oshi and Samwell. The play was very balanced with lots of role reversal and frequent breaks. It was beautiful to watch and very “textbook”.
So, it was decided: Samwell would become a Whitelaw!
Next time…bringing Samwell home.