Here’s a video of Self Handicapping that I took 3 years ago, when Will was a young pup and Lassie was the stronger of the two. It’s a lovely illustration of appropriate dog play, showing how the stronger dog self handicaps to avoid overwhelming the weaker player. Lassie, even now, is capable of pulling with a great deal of strength, but in this video she clearly damps down both the power of her pull and intensity used when she shakes her head. She moves more slowly and with less power than she would when playing with me.
There’s another piece to this video that I just love: when Lassie decides she is done playing she gives Willie a very clear signal that play time is over. (Not long after she looks at me when I say “Jim! Turn the TV down” in the background!). She gives a second (more obvious) signal when Willie doesn’t seem to get the message… did you see the first one?
I showed this at the seminar on Dog Play (Dog Play DVD) to illustrate appropriate and inappropriate play and followed it with a second video thatmakes me all gooey whenever I watch it. It was taken 2 years later, and shows the now grown up, and very strong Willie self handicapping while playing tug with Lassie, who at 14 is now the weaker one. I can’t tell you why, but it makes everyone who sees the comparison feel all oxytocin-y and big of heart.
Meanwhile, back on the farm: Or, rather, back at the office right before I drive away to pick up Willie from his FIVE AND A HALF HOUR root canal. I have been flipping out over here… five + hours under anesthesia? Oh lordy, be still my heart. (I know, I know, I am such a wuss. It’s pathetic. Talk about oxytocin! Is there such a thing as oxytocin poisoning?)