Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Random musing on having two dogs & one heart

When we decided to add another dog to our family, I knew that there would be some adjustments. I knew Scout would be frustrated with a new puppy, and I knew he and Bandit would have to work things out.

And for the most part, that's what's happening. For the first couple of weeks, there was a lot of wrestling, and Bandit was, for the most part, a big giant pain in the arse 20 out of 24 hours a day. But over time, they've started to settle in. In fact, as I write, they're both sound asleep in different parts of the house; the cat is in my office window, and he hasn't been mauled yet today. All in all, peace is reigning for the moment.

But I have to confess that there are some things that I'm still struggling with. Bandit is a really good dog. He's taking to training very quickly. He walks calmly on a leash. So far, he hasn't really chewed anything of significance (although he has developed a taste for paperback books and the mail).

He is, however, a bit of a bully. Yesterday I gave him and Scout their Kong bones and they settled into their beds - one in the living room, one in the dining room - to chew and relax. But when Bandit was done, he walked over to Scout, gave him the Border collie stare and whined, until Scout got up and surrendered not only his bone but his bed. I pulled Bandit out and gave Scout back his bone, but he kind of looked at me as if to say, "No, that's OK. I'm good." And he went upstairs to lay on the bed.

That's pretty much how they operate. Scout has something Bandit wants, so Bandit stares him down, or chases him down, or bites him until Scout gives it up. Sometimes when they wrestle, Scout fights back, especially when he's done playing, but when it comes to toys, treats and food, he relinquishes his goodies without a fuss.

Scout has always been a bit aloof. We joke often that he'd go home with anyone who had a hamburger, and as long as you were willing to throw a ball for hours on end, he'd stay as long as you'd have him.

But for a while at least he was attached to me. When David had to sleep in the spare bed because of his back problems (our old bed was the worst), or when he stayed in there during hunting season because he got up before dawn and didn't want to wake me, Scout slept with me. Not just slept with me, slept right next to me. When we got our new bed, though, Scout started sleeping in the spare room by himself.

During the day, though, he was still my shadow. He slept under my feet at my desk, was in the kitchen when I was cooking, slept behind David's recliner when we watched TV. (If the TV was too loud, he'd go upstairs; he's noise sensitive.)

Since Bandit's come, Scout kind of become like a ghost in the house. He can't play with any of his toys because Bandit steals them. He doesn't like to come into my office much because he's afraid of the gate I had to put up to keep Bandit out.

And then yesterday, he ran away. It wasn't a "I'm leaving to join the circus" kind of running away. It was more a "I really do not want to go in the car with you so while you put Bandit in, I'm going to the park." He's never done that before.

So I'm feeling guilty for adding another dog. I don't know if Scout has the cognitive reasoning skills to feel abandoned or ticked off or cheated. Maybe I'm feeling like I'm abandoning him or am ticked off when Bandit's a pain or I'm cheating Scout. Either way, I cried today because I just feel bad for Scout.

I suppose we're still in the adjustment phase and Scout will eventually work this all out. Last night, for example, we played water dog - I spray the hose and Scout chases it. Bandit hates the hose, so this was definitely a mommy and Scout time. By the time we were done, both of us were wet and muddy. And today, after separate walks, both dogs seem less competitive.

So probably I'm the one who needs some counseling to sort out my feelings, huh?

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