That's where my impression was dead wrong. Oliver, our 8 pound Papillon, pictured at the top of this blog, came to us a 3 pound ball of fluff with a cold. He was not only quiet, but cuddly, sleepy, and downright lethargic. My impressions from that book, read so many years ago, were cemented.
Then the cold went away, and the true Oliver emerged a bundle of energy and growing confidence. We taught our 2 retrievers, Xena and Tanner, how to play gently with Oliver. "Down, stay, play with your snout". When paws were used in play, I simply touched the paw and said to Tanner, "No paws." He learned quickly and well. Tanner and Oliver bonded immediately, playing a form of a floor game which can only be called "Tanner is the mountain." Oliver climbed all over Tanner, chewing on his ears, playing tug with his tail and washing his snout. Tanner basked in the attention as though he were a king and continues to love this playtime, even as it is entirely different from the big-dog style play that he and Xena engage in.
Now that both are involved in agility training, I have met many toy-sized dogs who are amazingly athletic. I realize every day how much more there is to learn about these fabulous animals we share our homes with. Some of our agility "friends" are Toy Poodles, Jack Russell terriers, and other Papillons, to name a few. When I visited a competition, I was surprised to see that Papillons and Jack Russells were the major contenders in their size category. Agility is sort of like wrestling, where dogs compete against like-sized dogs.
Oliver recently returned to agility training after a hiatus, and he quickly showed me that he was eager to accomplish the challenges ahead. He clearly was excited about the many fun things he was asked to do. So my delicate toy dog label is melting away, and a new one is coming into place. Oliver showed me this week that he can be athletic, and most importantly, that he enjoys it. I'm looking forward to seeing him run a whole agility course....except that he is much faster than I am. I guess I better take up sprinting.
If you have a toy dog who needs some extra mental challenges and fun playtime with you, Agility training might be just the ticket. This is a kit of equipment that I have at home for practice. Although it is not exactly the same as the real stuff, it does provide good extra practice.