Lucy, an 8 year old Collie who is a keen soccer player

Geraldine found Lucy in an animal shelter, when she was nine months of age. Nobody was able to tell her where Lucy had originally come from, but her forebears were clearly working collies, and Lucy has all of the instincts of a breed that’s been bred to chase and herd sheep. There are no sheep in Lucy’s suburban life, but when she first came across a football, her ancestors’ instincts emerged. She’s able to chase, nudge and guide a ball with the skill of an experienced professional.

When she arrived in their home, Geraldine’s son was thirteen, and soccer was his passion. He was always out with his friends, playing with a football. He took Lucy along with him on some of these occasions, and she began to join in, chasing the ball, and pushing it along with her nose. It was funny at first, but she soon learned to grab the ball in her mouth, shaking it, and the lads discovered that she’d puncture the ball within a few minutes when she started to do this. From then on, Lucy was left at home on her own when anyone was playing a serious game of soccer, but whenever it was time to take her for a walk, she was taken to the park for her own game of soccer instead. She’d burn up more energy chasing a football than most dogs would running beside their owners on a five mile walk.

Lucy also plays soccer in her own garden, chasing the ball up and down. The garden is sixty feet long, so there’s plenty of space for running around. She prefers the game if there’s someone else with her – the routine is that the person kicks the ball to Lucy, calls out “give me the ball”, and she pushes it back to them, using her nose. She’s become highly skilled at dribbling the ball using her nose, pushing it along the ground, and jigging one way then the other. The idea is that her human competitor tries to tackle her, and when they eventually succeed, she backs off, waiting for it to be kicked in her direction again. She has a dozen footballs, most of them half deflated because she’s punctured them, but that doesn’t stop her having fun with them.

If she’s left in the garden on the own with the ball, she invents her own games. She’ll either push it around with her nose, or she’ll grab it with two paws, alternately pulling it and pushing it, to make things more interesting.

She’s fussy about the surface that she plays on – she once had the experience of playing a game of soccer in a tarmacked yard, and she ended up with sore feet, her pads grazed where she’d skidded over the hard surface. She had to wear socks for a few weeks after that, to allow her feet to heal. Since then, the joke has been that she really ought to have her own football boots. She learned a lesson from the experience, and if the ball is kicked over to a concrete or tarmac area, she’ll push it back over onto the grass where it’s more comfortable for her to play.

Tips

  • Dogs often love playing soccer, just like humans
  • Dogs from a working background, like Collies, especially enjoy chasing balls
  • It’s excellent exercise, for their brains as well as for their bodies

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