We've had Flash, our new addition to the family, living with us for about two weeks now. I have to admit I was worried about him in the beginning, what with all that old dog, new tricks business. Flash is almost 11 years old, and has always been #1 in his home--one with no children or other pets, and parents who adored him--so we knew it would be an adjustment moving in with us. After all, we have kids, noise, carpets, Bailey and rules.
Strangely enough, things seem to be going pretty well, considering all that. In fact, the toughest thing that Flash is being forced to learn is that he is, in fact, a dog.
You laugh, but I truly think that this little guy, indulged practically from birth, really thinks he is just a short person. He even acts sometimes like he's better than the rest of us, what with better hearing, sense of smell and not having to hold a job. If a dog can feel entitled, Flash is truly a fat cat among canines.
I can't really blame him, though, since he was always taught to play the part of prince. His mom would take him for a walk, and if he moved too slowly and she had to be somewhere, she would pick him up and carry him all the way home. When dad would grill a steak, plate it and put it on the table on the deck, and then go inside for salt and pepper, he would return to find the plate empty and a very satisfied Flash in his chair looking at him as if asking, "how about a beer, pal?" And because this type of behavior was not nipped in the bud (read: discouraged by any kind of punishment), it stands to reason that Flash spent his first few days in our house looking very confused.
He eschewed his own dog food for Bailey's, and we assumed it was because he liked the flavor of Bailey's better. After a while, though, he wouldn't eat any kind of dog food. Maybe he's depressed, we thought, or just protesting his new situation. Surely he'll get hungry enough to eat the dog food eventually, we reasoned, and so we just kept an eye on him around the dinner table. Then one day, I heard a strange noise and looked over at him. There he was on the floor, chewing on a sock (one of Ben's that he had left lying in the living room). Another day, it was a napkin being shredded, and rather quickly, I might add. Yesterday, I thought he was finally gnawing on one of his toys that I'd brought over from his house--one of a basketfull, in fact--only to discover he was chewing on a pencil. And he wasn't even in the midst of writing an essay.
Yes, it's been a big adjustment, and he's not there yet. He still tries to come into the bedroom at night to sleep with us, still climbs up on the couch occasionally and even jumps up to the sill of the big bay window to bark at passers by. But even with all that, he seems to love the routine, the constant presence of people, or at least Bailey, and all the noisy silliness our pack is capable of at any given moment. There has been no discovery of smelly 'gifts' in the house, no aggression and no shredded property (the napkin notwithstanding).
The poor little guy has been through a lot. But I really think his learning that he is not a person has actually been easier than it would have been to learn he has gone from alpha dog status to the bottom of the pack's chain. David's the boss, Bailey is first dog, and despite all the chaos, we have plenty of love for Flash too, which we willingly shower upon him. As long as we don't make him go out and get a job, I think he's going to be just fine.