But they were late for the beach that day. Kenzo decided to sit down in front of the path and waited, in his best imitation of Hachikō. He sat down for 10 minutes, letting other dogs pass by, until they arrived.
They have not always been that happy to see each other. Joska is very competitive towards other males, but fearful of them at the same time. It is like his testosterone is pushing him to act in a way he doesn't feel confident about. When Joska and Kenzo first met two years ago, Joska was not amused and very nervous. He only allowed Kenzo to showcase a full display of every calming signal in the book.
Somehow, during some of those meetings in the past, Kenzo discovered Joska's soft spot. Joska and my dad love to play fetch above anything else. Even though Kenzo has a game of fetch low on his fav list, body-checking is still his uncontested number one, he recognized fetch as the key to forge a closer relationship with those two. And decided to favor the game's company over the game type.
At first Kenzo was calm. Trying to appear not interested, as not to annoy Joska. Nowadays he is a fully accepted member of the fetch team. It took Kenzo more than a year in the smallest steps possible to get there. Desensitization carried out in perfection.
To give you an idea of how they play today, in their own version of fetch, watch this short video:
Did you notice the mutual play bows - even my dad - and how they play with two balls in the game?
Watching the three of them greet when they reunite after a long period of living apart in different countries and see how they engage in their own private game is a joy. For Joska it is very special that he can bond with another male dog.
Kenzo does try to introduce the body-check into the game and he made a fine demo once. As soon as Joska was on his feet again he decided to avoid further demos, and give this new play concept some further thought.
Like before, Kenzo never ceases to amaze me how he can make any dog feel good. Even if it takes him more than a year to achieve it. But a year is a small prize to pay for obtaining a real friend, as I realized when I saw him sitting on the beach, waiting for his new BFF.
Related post: The Small Fearful Dog Therapist