Last night was Secret's Christmas experience for the year. :o) She won't get to go up to my parent's house for the "real" Christmas because my brother is bringing his dogs up from Chicago and I have no real desire to participate in that insanity, so instead I took Secret to our "pre-Christmas" family get-together. My aunt Jeri and family were visiting from Minneapolis, so we got everyone together for dinner at my parent's house.
It was a given that Joe would come because the socialization experience would be so invaluable for him. I was torn between Secret & Luke, though -- So in the end, no lie, I drew names to see which of them would get to come. I had to be fair, after all, and Secret ended up winning fair and square. Poor Luke. I might sneak him along on Christmas Eve, as I know he'll ignore my brother's dogs anyhow.
Secret did better than she ever has in such a setting! At previous engagements I've always made a point to start her out on leash at the beginning of the evening because she seems so uncomfortable with all the commotion. In addition, there are always at least a couple of smaller children running around and this has made her come a little unglued in the past.
Perhaps it's just a sign that she's maturing, but she handled everything very well last night. We arrived at the same time as a carload of people and she was a little bug-eyed at them when we first pulled up, but there was no barking or other such poor behavior.
Inside the house she briefly made her rounds to say hello (mostly to my parents, whom she knows very well) and then she found a cow hoof and spent the next half hour or more laying down to chew on that. When she got a bit overwhelmed by the activity in the living room, I noted that she took her hoof and went to lay by the door to the garage where it was more quiet.
There were several occasions later in the evening where Secret actively sought out interactions from people. A few relatives remarked that they had never been able to pet her in the past and that they were surprised at how she came right up to them. She did very well during dinner and more or less stood back from the table a bit and just watched. Good girl for not begging, but I'd prefer that she lay down and stop staring at everyone. ;o)
My parents have quite a toy basket for Lexie in the living room, so towards the end of the evening Secret started to empty it toy by toy. There were several tennis balls, so all three dogs ended up having their own to play with. Lexie also has several of those stuffed toys without any stuffing, so Secret was having lots of fun throwing those around in addition to finding every toy that squeaked.
It was a long evening and we got home a bit after 9:00. I figured everyone would be totally pooped, but Secret instigated a chase session with Luke & Kaiser in the yard before we went inside to feed dinner & crash. Guess she missed them!
Little man, Joe, was a huge hit with everyone! Numerous times people asked me his age and then remarked at what a well behaved dog he is for only 4 1/2 months old. Granted, I planned ahead and had him chase the tennis ball for a good bit of time before we left to go up to my parents, so he was a little more subdued when we arrived. :o)
I saw Joe cuddling with several people throughout the night and he instigated a game of tug with my cousin when he found one of the stuffless toys. He was very good about leaving the Christmas tree alone (I don't have one at my house) and when he found a couple of ornaments on the floor he was very gentle with them and gave them right up when asked (they are BALLS, can you blame him??).
Joe was a good boy during dinner, too -- Mostly because I kept him by my side by feeding him kibble out of my treat pouch. I did see that he nabbed a couple of dessert plates off the coffee table at the end of the night, but he gave them right up.
In addition, we spent four hours at a new place and still no potty accidents! He's a smart one, this kid.