What's so remarkable about the following photo is that it shows Max playing with a toy for the first time since (how long have we had Katy?) oh about 18 months. At the same time he is slowing down due to age-related arthritis, he's been gaining confidence to stand up to Katy. This is one sign of that.
He stopped playing with toys shortly after she came to live with us. He once happily trucked all over the house with balls, stuffies, ropes, rawhides - you name it - even paper rolls were fair game. And, he was incredibly possessive of his toys. But, he'd always greet us at the front door with a toy in his mouth, tail wagging. He played fetch too. Though, most of the time we "chased" him. Then Katy came along and decided he couldn't have toys anymore. He put up a fight, but she was persistent and rapidly grew much, much larger. Seemingly overnight, he "grew out of" toys.
Lately he has demonstrated a renewed interest in toys, and she's been more relaxed about her "rules." Now, I have to admit that I played a role in this photo. When I saw his interest in the toy and that Katy was gearing up to make a bossy move in his direction, I told her "no" – and praised him.
Have you ever tried to simultaneously give two dogs the opposite directions?
Katy is attentive and responsive, so fairly quickly she understood the "no, no :< HEY" was meant for her, not Max. Hand signals directed at the right dog and out of sight of the wrong one come in, well, handy.
At one point they even played tug-of-war but seeing as how Katy outweighs Max 4:1, I think he was smart to abandon that game.