Brian and I are spending the week house sitting and dog sitting for our friends, the Elliots. We are making a “staycation” out of it while pretending that we own a nice home and a kitchen where two people could actually cook a meal together at the same time. The Elliots have a sweet dog named Zipporah, who is 50ish pounds and a mix of hound and…something else. Lucy and Zipporah met last Saturday when we came over to receive our instructions and important info. They played together and seemed to get along well, so we all felt good about the two dogs sharing a house for a week…..
Lucy does this, and I know she does this and I should have been prepared–she lures you into a sense of well-being and then BANG she comes up with something amazing/embarrassing/stinky/annoying to do. It started with a little snarling, a warning growl, a wrestling match that went too far, and ended up in more than one confrontation in which my 9lb dog went up against the 50lb dog over a favorite toy or a scrap of food. She starts it, the little brat, and then Zipporah tries to finish it. Who can blame Zipporah for fighting back when Lucy takes Z’s favorite toys and hides them in spots where Zipporah is too big to get to them? Heaven forbid that Z get too close to Lucy’s beloved squeaker, but it’s perfectly ok for Lucy to drag Z’s favorite bone into an impossibly small space, and then insolently chews on said bone in full view of, but not in reach of poor Zipporah.
The emotional turmoil reaches its peak when Brian and I dare to leave the house with Lucy in her cage and Z allowed to roam free. We came home a couple days ago to the most pitiful shrieking and yelping ever heard by human ears. Lucy was almost inconsolably frantic after spending a couple hours home alone with Z.
I’m trying to see it from Lucy’s perspective, though my patience with this dog is wearing thin. One day, she’s living the good life as the only child in her family with two parents who give her tons of affection and attention. She’s the center of the world, and impossibly, irresistibly cute. All is good, until one day this huge mammoth of a dog dares to share her space and DARES to share the attention of mommy and daddy. Whoa, hold on, stop the truck. Why is daddy playing with that other dog? How did that other dog get a hold of my toy and rip to shreds? Where are all the crumbs that used to be on the floor??!!!!
I think her fears are understandable. Someone newer, stronger, faster, or prettier comes along and sometimes we just lose our heads. Instead of welcoming them with open arms, we become territorial and insecure. They try to play with our favorite toy, and we spitefully hide it under the papasan chair where they can’t get at it. They try to make friends with our friends, and we “forget” to invite them to our house for that birthday party. (And by “we” I mean girls)
Sometimes we just need to know that no matter how shiny or awesome the other dog is, we are still loved and valued. Scratch us behind the ears and remind us that no matter how many times we have accidents on the carpet or start fights over table scraps, we are important and special. Let us sleep in the bed and curl up on your favorite shirt.
But most of all, give us a good whap with a rolled up newspaper.