Regular readers will know that we have an adorable friend named Soca. I don’t know if she’s 100% Labrador, but she is definitely a retriever. Soca loves water. She’ll sit in a ditch for the sheer joy of it. I’ve seen her do it.
This makes her a bit of an odd couple with Spencer who is basically afraid of water. Last year during a massive heatwave we set up a wading pool for Spencer. He treated it as a giant water bowl. We tried demonstrating how much it was to go into the pool. Nothing. We tried using treats to lure him in and reward him for bravery. Spencer literally balanced himself precariously across the pool rather than put his feet in. Our vacation house last year was across from a lake. Spencer would drink out of it and very reluctantly followed Greg in on a leash for a few minutes. We went out onto a little peninsula, and Spencer would drink from the sheltered side but was afraid of the “waves” (they were maybe a quarter centimeter high) on the other side.
So playing with Soca pushes Spencer out of his comfort Soca. On a recent walk, she threw herself into a pond and started splashing joyfully around. Spencer stood on the bank barking something which I think translates to, “What are you doing? You’re going to kill yourself! Come out now!” When she remained deaf to his pleas, he finally jumped in after her and then immediately panicked because the banks were too steep for him to get out. (I went around to where there was a gentler incline and called him out so he understood how it worked.)
Soca’s influence seems to be having a lasting effect on Spencer. This past weekend, Greg, Spencer and I were all in the woods when we stopped at a pond. The water on the edge tends to be murky and not so nice for drinking, so Spencer will wade in a bit, but wee were astonished when he kept going and going until his belly was completely in the water. He never would have done that pre-Soca.
This is a great sign that the other dogs he hangs out with are helping him have more confidence about the world around him. Thank you, Soca!