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Our neighbors have a new puppy — a delightful, fuzzy, plump brown puppy, curious, comical and hellbent on trouble. She is acting not unlike a toddler, as anyone who has raised a child will recognize.

The adults in the home had decided, pre her arrival, that just as they had done before, they would have their older dog be in charge of ‘training’ the newcomer. This assumed, and they had no reason NOT to assume so, that the older dog would like and feel positive vibes towards the newcomer. They got her approval before the puppy arrived, so they thought Jewel was fine with her. She was — kind of. For a short time. It was a case of “this puppy’s fine here on the farm, but in MY house, it’s a whole different ball game. It’s MINE!” Then the jealousy and, dare I say, resentment towards the interloper set in. I recall a similar reaction when Gill, our firstborn, was introduced to her new baby brother, Crazy D. She was not impressed. Who was this little twerp who had stolen all the attention from her?

At first, we tried to bribe her, buy her off, as it were, with a lovely new doll. That worked for all of 30 minutes. It was a bit of a struggle but eventually the two became good friends. But we always had to try to give them more or less equal time and attention. By the time L’il Sis arrived, they outnumbered the grownups so all bets were off. But I get what our neighbors were trying to do: the older kid or dog knows the lay of the land, the rules (or how to get around them), the correct buttons to push and, most importantly, when NOT to push them to win in the battle against the parents.

Jewel has been the centre of attention for many years and she was a rescue dog to start with. She is beautifully trained, well-mannered, obedient. But after a few days of everyone going gaga over the cute little puppy, she’d had it. Puppy tried to steal her food and Jewel lost it, mauling her around the eye. Things went downhill. Soon the puppy’s eye was swollen shut, puss was oozing from it and the puppy seemed sick. A trip to the vet confirmed that Jewel didn’t know her own strength and for one awful night, we thought the puppy might lose its eye or might even have a skull fracture. A sleepless night (for the humans) of putting drops in the eye and cuddling the puppy paid off. By the next day, she was on the mend and her eye would be fine. But, as the owner said, ” Jewel is no longer in charge of the puppy training!” This was said with all the fervor of a committed religious zealot discovering that the leader of his religion is an impostor. Lesson learned.

In a diversionary tactic, I took Jewel on walks to the schoolyard to fetch her human sister…anything to soothe her battered ego. The kids at school dote on Jewel and gave her the love and affection she was sadly needing. She is the heroine and rock star of the  school.

One would think, after her day of misery, that the puppy would have learned her lesson and not bother the older dog. But no, just like a recalcitrant toddler, there she was, jumping at the bigger dog to get her to play. Jewel, looking very queenly and above the fray, clearly was saying, “We are not amused!”

So back to the “Puppies For Dummies” training book. Which made me wonder: Is there a Babies For Dummies” book? If there isn’t, there should be. If only such a volume had been available when Gill and her siblings were young. On the other hand, knowing Gill, she would have grabbed the book, read the crucial parts and recruited her brother and sister as combatants in the war against the adults.

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