News flash! Some genius has done experiments that he claims prove that dogs can be jealous. Really? Anyone who has a dog knows that. It certainly does not require a large scientific grant, months of time, and several PhDs to figure it out. Give me a dog, a baby, and a mother (preferably human) and I’ll prove it in five minutes. It isn’t rocket science.
When we lived in California many years ago, we (I) adopted a puppy from the local supermarket. No, the store wasn’t selling puppies. A couple with a litter of puppies they couldn’t keep was giving them away at the entrance. I, being a softie and missing having a dog (as well as avoiding finishing my thesis), took one home, named her Flower and she became our family dog — the spoiled only child until 6 years later when Gill was born. Flower, until then my constant companion, took one look at this wailing ‘thing’ I had brought home from the hospital, turned up her nose and steadfastly refused, for three whole weeks, to come near me when I was holding or paying attention to the baby. Flower was pissed — and jealous. At the end of three weeks, she realized ‘it’ wasn’t going away and was the source of all kinds of interesting smells and food…food which could, if she was cagey, be licked off the child’s face or retrieved from beneath the child’s seat. A fast (if symbiotic) relationship was formed. Gill and Flower became great friends.
Last week, when I babysat for my little neighbour girl, their dog Jewel took great umbrage that I had been brought in to look after the child and not her. Jewel, who for some reason loves me deeply, planted her very large self between the girl and me. The girl was demanding that I play with HER, but the dog gained the upper paw.She raised it and put it down ever so gently on my hand, in a ‘let’s talk gesture’, trying to get me to engage…again and again and again. She was clearly positioning herself as my playmate for the day, demoting her kid to the bottom of the pecking order.
When we played host to Crazy D’s puppy Mr. Pants last week, The Pig’s nose was completely out of joint. Mr. Pants had taken over HER Grandma, the maker of chicken soup, the napping companion, the one in charge of daily walks. She became the poster child for a jealous dog. Translated into concrete action, that means she raided the garbage every day — and without her usual attempt to feign contrition. If she could talk, she would have said, with attitude, “Take that, Bitches! You think I’m standing still for this little twerp to shove me aside, you’ve got another think coming.”
When it came time for Mr. Pants to leave to return to the big city, the two dogs lay in the hallway, staring at each other. I placed Mr. Pants’ blankie near the garage door in preparation for his departure. He promptly picked it up in his mouth and took it back into the front of the house, whining his obvious displeasure at having to leave after this, his ‘Spring Break’. (We call every holiday with us his Spring Break since he behaves like a drunken but delightful kid on steroids who is ‘partying hearty’.) While he was crying at having to leave, The Pig shot him a look that said, rather unkindly I thought, “Haven’t you left yet?” So dogs and jealousy? You bet!
And, lest Gill thinks she got off easy in this discussion of jealousy, I hasten to remind her that she was no saint when her brother Crazy D arrived in our house…despite the fact that we bought her off with a new doll. Which goes to show, one should never pre-judge when a new member of the posse turns up. He or she just might provide the missing link, the ‘demolition guy’, the master schemer that the band of thieves needs to be successful.