She was the only dog in the store, and received an overall positive response. She politely sniffed hands to meet people, and did no sled-dog like pulling, and did no jumping. Elka no longer precisely jumps onto people; rather, she stands up on her hind legs so that she might smell their face. It can be disconcerting.
Our primary reason for the trip was to take a trip. Secondary, to get more dog food. And third, it was the prime opportunity to get a doggie tennis ball!
The actual brand of doggie tennis ball is Tuff Balls, and Tractor Supply had a whole lot of them that were printed up just for them, at about a dollar each. Tractor Supply had many other interesting things, like shopping carts (Elka was dubious about these), the occasional ripped bag of food, and, because it was Easter, a pile of ducks.
It was interesting to me that Elka paid nominal attention to the food items, was kind of skittery but gave me good attention around the shopping carts, and paid no attention to the ducks. Or the chicks. She was far more interested in the kids gathered around them, many of whom were happy to come and pet her.
One woman who stopped to pet Elka said that she'd had a doberman once. He had just "walked into their house" one day, she said, wearing a collar and everything, but they never found his owner. So they kept him for the rest of his life. From the look on her face, I'd say he was a good dog.
We walked around for a short amount of time, and Elka got a click and treat for looking at a New Thing and looking at me, for walking on a loose leash, and for responding to her "Sit" promptly. When she was excited enough that she would respond to the click and then refuse the treat (those shopping cars, I'm telling you....), I took her back out to the car, picked up the things I'd picked out, and we went home.
And I turned her loose with the tennis ball.
I might as well confess now that I'm doing this more for fun and variety for Elka than in the interest of Science. I mean, I'll be happy if I find an exceedingly durable tennis ball that will last longer than, say, half an hour, but these aren't exactly controlled experiments. The Tractor Supply Tuff Ball lasted a decent amount of time. Elka chewed on it until it was good and drool soaked, and then tried surreptitiously to pull the fuzz off of it, which I don't dig, but the ball was still intact. Then she dropped it onto a windowsill, got it back, bounced around for awhile, and then got down to business.
Because the fuzz is intact, it's hard to see that the rubber within is in fact cracked, beyond there just being that thumb-sized hole there. So you'll just have to take my word for it, I suppose. I'd give the Tractor Supply Tuff Ball a generous estimate of having survived a full half hour of varied play.