Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pack Rats

While I don't think we would qualify for a pet version of "Hoarders" just yet, our pack has recently grown. After the far-too-early passing of our friend and neighbor, Augie, his 10 year old beagle, Flash, has come to live with us.

One might think, "OK, you already have one dog that you walk, feed, play with and love. What's one more?" To be fair, that is somewhat true. Flash and our Bailey have been taking walks together every day for almost three years, and played together before that. They know each other well, and are close buddies.

But just as with adding a new child to the family, a new life in the house means a shift in roles and dynamic. Our routine is the same; we just incorporated Flash into it. The thing is, at Flash's old house, he didn't really have any rules. In fact, the first time I said the word "No" to him, he looked at me like I had three cat heads.

He is becoming more comfortable here with each passing day. Yet the more relaxed he becomes, the more the rules are tested.

"Flash, get off the couch."

"Flash, get away from the table."

"Flash, come away from the bedrooms."

"No, Flash, that's Bailey's bed. Yours is over here."

And, of course, there is Bailey's insecurity. "Am I being replaced? Do you like him more than you do me? LOVE ME LOVE ME LOVE ME!!!!!!" He has become Velcro dog of late, and I can't say I blame him. After his original owner passed away, Bailey lived with another family before ours, and has been top dog here for some four years now. Suddenly, he's got a little brother touching his stuff and doing things he's never been allowed to do.

Plus, Flash keeps not going home. I mean, one sleepover is fun, and a couple of playdates here are nice. But enough is enough. In doggie speak, Bailey's looking at us going, "what the woof?"

Two nights ago, Ben woke up around 3:30 a.m. and knocked on my door. I got up, put him back to bed and stayed with him a bit, but he was still awake when I left his room. Walking out, I almost stepped on Flash, who I subsequently walked back to the living room, to his own bed. Then I went back to bed. Not long after, Ben knocked again. Once more, I put him back to bed, and then--you guessed it--put Flash back to bed too.

Just last night, David and I were getting ready for bed, and David realized he'd forgotten to do something in the kitchen. When he went back out, not five minutes after he'd turned off the kitchen light, he found Flash in Bailey's bed, and Bailey trying to get downstairs to eat the kibble Flash had left in his bowl.

"They're acting like a couple of kids," he mumbled as he came back into the bedroom.

And it's true. This is our new normal: sibling boys, sibling dogs, lots of noise and lots of laughs. Sure, I have days when I hunger for peace and quiet, no squabbles to break up, and no doggie spats to sort out. But in the end, I know that those days will come soon enough, most likely when I have become quite comfortable and happy with our boisterous pack. Until then, my goal is to feed and enjoy ALL the animals, so that when they do leave us, it will be with memories of joy and having been greatly loved.

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