December 15th, 2015
Like many of us who have gotten to know neighbours over the backyard fence, Bailey met her dog pal in this manner. I am not sure when their friendship first started. What I do remember is that Roxy did not make a good first impression on any of us. She is a boxer/black Labrador retriever cross with oodles of energy. Once our house was built four years ago and the family had moved in, we experienced this loud, aggressively barking dog racing along the fence beside our place. Often she would quietly lie in wait unbeknownst to you until it was too late. You were already halfway down the side of the house. It did not matter if we ignored or talked to her – the response was the same. My advice to the boys was to never tease her or run along the fence. My oldest son, who had been chased by an unleashed dog in a playground at 5 years of age, refused to go on that side of the house. In fact, he would not go out in the backyard if she was out. We love to spend time in our yard so it complicated things.
As time went on, I decided to put a flower bed on that side. I ignored her snarling and responded with positive talk. How are you today, Roxy? It seemed futile at first. However, late last summer (2014), I noticed some improvement. By this time, we were waiting for a Newfoundland puppy. The family wondered what effect this dog would have on our newest family member. It was a concern.
Bailey arrived home in April – the new gal on the block. Roxy was not out much as the temperatures were around minus 25 degrees Celsius still. They met frequently throughout the summer on the way to taking Bailey to the backyard. Roxy continued with her usual behaviour. Bailey would sit about 8 feet from the staggered fence. She watched Roxy race back and forth. Bailey waited without barking or snarling back. I am not sure if it was Bailey’s calm temperament from being a Newfoundland dog or she knew to patiently wait for Roxy to accept her. This fall, something changed between them. I noticed that Roxy was eagerly waiting for Bailey when we returned from one of our daily walks. She was standing on her two back legs with her face barely peering over the top of the front yard fence. At first, I thought what I heard was not correct – a friendly woof. Bailey perked up from her long walk. She began to prance with her head high in the air and tail wagging more quickly. As we rounded the street corner and entered into our yard, Roxy woofed again. It seemed like she was inviting Bailey to play. Given Bailey’s body language, I could tell she wanted to go. What the heck! I released her from the leash. Bailey picked up speed rather rapidly for one who seemed only minutes before ready for a long nap. I was forgotten. The two dogs tried their best to sniff one another between the small openings of the wooden fence slats. Roxy began to move along the fence and Bailey followed. The two of them were soon racing back and forth in glee.
Fence racing is now a regular occurrence. Roxy is always faster and can outlast Bailey every time. Bailey does not care. She tries her best to keep up. I can always tell when Bailey is getting tired. She grabs at the snow to quench her thirst. Like a small child who does not want to leave a birthday party, Bailey is not the easiest pup to round up to go home. I keep telling her that there will be many more times for these two pooches to continue their across-the-fence friendship. Thanks to Bailey, Roxy has warmed up to the rest of us.
P.S. At 45 weeks, Bailey is now 48.5 kg or 106 pounds 15 ounces.