Phoebe acts like a senior dog. She just lies around sleeping all day, takes her sweet time walking around and basically acts like anything but the high energy dog she is. Maybe months of crate rest and limited activity has left her perfectly content to be a lazy bones.

I know she has some pent up energy inside her. She still jumps like a crazy dog when preparing to go for a walk and chasing squirrels. It’s amazing how she can smell those things when she isn’t even near the yard. One second she is lying around, then she is up and running before I can blink. She makes a precision jump through the doggie door, basically flies across the yard and jumps a good four feet, all in an attempt to catch her nemesis before it scurries away. Yep. Physically she is capable of running and playing. Mentally, she just doesn’t want to.

I keep trying to get her to play, trying something new ever few weeks, but she wants nothing to do with it. She stubbornly sits there staring at me. If I try to coax her she turns her away. I can take a hint. Game over before it even started.

I was hopeful when she showed some interest in a bright green thing that sails like a frisbee. The only problem is that all she would do is walk over to it touch it land trot back for a treat. “Fetch” and “Go get it” forgotten (or ignored). Over and over, I would toss, she would go touch it and come back wanting a treat. Its like who was doing the exercising? It seemed to me. She certainly was not going to bring it back,, so I had to keep walking over to get it only to repeat the ‘touch the toy get a treat game’. That was a total bust.

I have tried bouncy balls, frisbees,  tug toys, a variety of “go fetch it stuff,” her used-to-be-favorite skunk and a variety of other things. She just grabs them and walks away treating it like a chew toy.

Recently, I got her to use the jump bar off her agility set. It required a lot of food, which seems to contradict the benefit of exercise. Nonetheless, she was doing something active. Actually, I am quite surprised how high she can jump from a sitting position. It did wear her out, but that got kind of old after a while.

The other day I went to the pet store to get some back-up food – I used to keep a few cans of Merrick on hand, but there is no way I am keeping a Purina product on my shelf. I promised myself that I would not waste any more money on dog toys. I kept my promise. I did not by a dog toy; I bought a cat toy

For some reason I was not surprised that the moment Phoebe saw it she wanted it. She wanted it real bad. That was as good sign. Still the cat toy is not exactly dog-chewing-friendly. I had to figure out a way to play and not let her catch it (she would have chomped it down in a second).

We went outside and she was crazy over it. She chased it all over the yard with the same fervor she used to show when chasing her skunk toy. My only fear was that if she would never be allowed to catch it, she might lose interest. Isn’t catching the prize part of what makes it fun when a dog plays? If I feared that if I never let her catch it, she would bore quickly, so I tossed her favorite thing of all time into the mix: food.

Every time she got close enough to catch, hitting it with her nose or something, I would give her a tidbit of a treat. That was enough to keep her motivated. I ran her into the ground with that thing.

I am hoping that once Phoebe gets her butt moving on a regular basis that she will start finding interest in the other types of play. I would like to see her acting like a 2 1/2 year old dog versus lying around as if she is in retirement. I can’t believe that  a $2.99 cat toy was all she needed to get moving again.