A New Friend for Cino

26th August 2016

Today Cino and I walked on the beach with Ursula (yes, I know it's not a doggy type name) - and her parents, Maggie and Kieran. Ursula and Cino are vaguely related, they come from the same kennels.  Her parents met Cino after church one day and asked where she came from - so on our recommendation, they got Ursula from the same breeder, Kate’s Family Pets, out near Oberon. They both have ‘Lagotto’ in their genes, a breed I had never heard of prior to Cino;  they are a working dog from Italy, and dig for truffles. Cino has yet to find any, but we remain hopeful.

They look quite similar, Ursula still has the same baby long hair Cino had for 18 months but now Cino’s is springy and curled. ("A bit like fairy floss" one of my Ethics students said last week.) Ursula is only a year old and still has bird like bones, whereas Cino at two and a half, is a muscled athlete, who can outrun any dog on the beach and who swims like a fish. Ursula is not only more more delicate but is treated more delicately - she is lifted in and out of the car, and her dainty paws merely touched the ocean before she bounded out, as if to say "Nup, not for me!". She is kept safely at the end of a long piece of rope as her parents do not trust her off leash, whereas Cino tears down the beach like a runaway horse - and always comes back when she is called. Ursula, when she escapes her leash, takes off at a fast pace and never looks back, whilst her parents screech and whistle and clap their hands and run after her, all to no avail. So I understand their concern.

Cino is a very sociable dog and loves the company of people and animals, she has many friends in both categories. One of her best friends is Buffy, (also a romantic interest) who lives in Sydney, and is as energetic, athletic, and crazy as she is. They play very roughly, and both thrive on it.  

It was with this in mind when I suggested to Maggie and Kieran, who are going overseas in December, that we introduce our two dogs. I thought it would be nice for her and Cino to hang out together for three weeks at our house, rather than sending Ursula to kennels. Our first walk was fairly messy, as Cino was decidedly - and surprisingly - ambivalent about Ursula: of all the possible emotions in a relationship, I think ambivalence would have to be the worst. Cino went about her business on the beach with the arrogance and importance of a politician, and paid scant attention to dear little Ursula who was panting for a morsel of attention, a case of love at first sight. Her idol only gave her a few very unfriendly snaps coupled with an unpleasant "Can't you see I'm busy?" attitude, which even I didn't like, and apologised profusely for

I held little hope for a long term relationship.

But on our second walk earlier this week, just Maggie and I and "The Two Girls" - things began to look up. Cino was clearly happy to see Ursula, and Maggie was willing to risk Ursula off leash, so the two of them ran and ran and ran - and interestingly, Ursula came back when Cino came back! She sat when I instructed Cino to do so, she took a treat when Cino had a treat, but kept well away from the water. She began to read the signals from other dogs rather than rushing up and introducing herself - if Cino kept back, so did she, if Cino sent the message that this was a friendly dog, she seemed to understand and followed Cino’s lead.  She was a very good student, happy to learn from an older mentor. But Cino got bossier and bossier as the realms of her power base began to dawn on her, and soon poor Ursula was being bowled over in the sand, leapt upon, knocked down and chased. Ursula bravely bore the brunt of this undisciplined behaviour from her new friend. Once more, I apologised.

Today, Ursula and her parents joined Cino and I again for a walk, our third - and - things are looking up. Ursula went 'troppo' as Maggie said, when she spied Cino - and apart from a few  energetic but friendly bashings inflicted by Cino, all went well. She even began to give a bit of a bash back at Cino, which was very heartening, and made Cino very happy, she loves a bit of rough and tumble. Ursula did take off down the beach at one point chasing a handsome chocolate springer spaniel, and Keiran had to run a long way to get her and use all his doggy skills to catch the end of the long rope leash she trailed.  Fortunately he was successful. I think Ursula will sleep for 48 hours after today's expedition.

So if "The Two Girls" idyllic three week holiday together in December occurs, I shall let you know. Her parents said they were a little afraid.   I think they may feel I am a little ‘gung-ho’ and a little too ‘free’ in my doggy attitude, and think they feel she may be better off in the ordered, discipline of the kennels.   They are a bit concerned she may 'do something destructive' in our house. I'm not, but they must be happy about their decision. Maybe Cino is just a little too unladylike, a bit too rough and tumble?

Whatever, it's been fun!