Thursday, November 29, 2007

Scarlett and Her “Little” Sister

See the difference between a dog that knows sit stay and one that doesn’t? The sit stay command definitely comes in handy for taking pictures.

If you look into the blur that represents Scarlett in the first picture you can see her eyes glowing with what I interpret to be a mixture of enthusiasm and contentment. Scarlett is 14 years and 8 months old. She is still very spirited and likes to give us a good tongue lashing if we fail to follow her royal orders.

Before Katie joined our family Scarlett had been without a dog companion for about 6 months since we lost Lincoln (her lifetime friend) last summer. Scarlett had always been nice to little puppies in the past, so I thought she would welcome Katie into our pack. I was wrong. After Scarlett figured out Katie was home to stay she resented her and would growl at Katie just for being in the room.

I was so depressed about this unexpected behavior that I was at my wit’s end. I had absolutely no hope that these two could ever live together harmoniously. Gary was much more practical about the situation. He helped me to put up some fencing in our yard to divide it into sections so the girls could each have their own space. We also put a barrier all the way down the middle of our kitchen because that is the room where I spend most of my time. This allowed me to be with both dogs at once. Katie’s puppy school teacher suggested that walking them together was probably the only chance I had of getting them to bond as a pack. So, we walked, twice a day every day. The growling from Scar lessened continuously until one day I realized that she had stopped doing it completely. It took about 3 months for them to reach this stage. During the next 3 months I would classify their relationship as neutral. There wasn’t any hate there, but there also wasn’t any love (on Scarlett’s side anyway).

Now the love between these two has blossomed. Katie loved Scarlett from day 1 even with all of her growling and posturing, and for the past five months Scarlett has actually started showing Katie love in return. Katie has become Scarlett’s rock. I think Katie helps Scarlett to feel secure and safe both at home and out in the world. They play crazy games together every day as they rejoice when we come home from work. They lounge around together all day while we are gone. They take turns getting treats and love from mama. When I am training Katie in the house Scarlett tags along after us and every time Katie gets praised for doing something good Scar gives a little hoot as if to say “Hey, I should get something just for being cute and gracing your space with my royal presence.” Of course she gets a little treat every time. When you are going on 15 (about 90 in human years, according to the modern dog/human year equation) you have earned the right to be a little spoiled in the Happy Haus. Hopefully, when we add Newf2 to the pack mix we will have a smoother transition, but if it is rocky at first I won’t be without hope this time. If Scarlett could have this dramatic of a turn around with Katie I think almost anything is possible. 

Scar says “Finally, those crazy folks let us get on with our walk. Let’s go sister Kate.”