Early on in my relationship with Nala, I realized that she has a distinct sense of humor.
Whenever Nala is feeling high and happy, all kinds of things cause her to make a certain smiley face that I think looks like a canine version of laughter. I’ve seen her laugh with pleasure over her own antics, such as when she brings me one of my shoes–a not-so-subtle hint that she would like a walk or some play-time in the backyard–or has just dropped a toy in a mud puddle so that she can enjoy the rapture of digging and fishing it out.
Even rolling around on the bed is hilarious when she’s in that sort of mood.
One of my favorite things to do is to get Nala laughing while we train. We do a few cues, and then I bend over in a human approximation of a play bow and extend my hands. Nala rubs and wiggles against me, bunting against my legs like a cat, her mouth open and tail wagging. I run to another room, and we do a few more training things. Then we do it again!
Some tricks make Nala laugh, too, like jumping up (sometimes on me, sometimes to touch my hand), and bowing quickly, and leg weaves (which are, after all, a lot like the bunting she does naturally).
And, of course, sometimes Nala instigates these games with me, bunting against my chair and grinning while I’m sitting and reading.
Best of all? My environmentally sensitive girl is starting to instigate and respond to these playful little overtures in challenging places! Our Rally class this week was so wonderful that it made my heart swell–even though I was running low on treats, she was happy to play and engage with me for a whole course for the reward of my playful attention and the occasional jackpot. Soon I’m going to have to re-think the “environmentally sensitive” box I’ve stuck her in!
What about you, dear readers? What makes your dog laugh?