And The Magic Number Is ….
Five. Five dogs.
I believe I have officially crossed over into Crazy Dog Lady territory. Normal people may even say I’ve crossed over into official Dog Hoarder. My dog-loving friends will see this as delightful.
Allow me to introduce you to Betty. Betty Jo if you want her middle name, because while I slightly altered her first name, I kept the middle name. The longer version will be Betty Jo Boop.
I’m sure you can see why.
Betty is a delightful little thing who has so rapidly assimilated that going from four to five was: No. Big. Deal. Hardly even noticed.
I’m pretty sure the other dogs thought she was merely another guest dog. That worked to my advantage as everyone was on their best behavior.
Of course, the very next day after the evening she landed she went for a hike. Thus, she shared more time and space with each of the four on our walkabouts.
Betty was Red Dog approved.
Rhys approves too but does wish she’d chase a ball or something and not him so much. Of all of the four dogs, the start with Rhys was the rockiest. There was snarking and hard stares the first day. That’s because Betty thought she preferred girl dogs and hadn’t really been around many fine handsome boy dogs. Then she discovered that Rhys does Fast Running, and Betty also enjoys doing Fast Running. Now she greatly admires Rhys and thinks he’d be really cool to play with, but so far he’s playing it like the really cool big brother who isn’t convinced his pesky little sister isn’t anything more than kinda annoying.
Youke approved her as well and he was the one that got the first tail wag. He even played tug with her on a walk with a big stick.
And then there’s Camm.
Of all the dogs, I was most concerned about Camm accepting not only a new family member, but a female at that. I had a very specific checklist, both for me and for Camm, when it came to time to add a new family member. I confess, I’ve had my eye out for well over a year. And then in one of those moments of serendipity, Betty appeared on the horizon like a perfect unicorn backlit in rainbow colors. One thing I’ve learned over the years, the perfect moment is never, but always grab that perfect thing even if the moment is imperfect. I think this is also called calculated risk-taking. Thanks to my friend Amanda for recently honing in on my propensity for taking calculated risks.
So back to Camm. Camm is not dumb. Camm knew there was something about the “guest” from the get-go. First if all, no guests have ever gone on very long car rides with us before. Also, her Human seemed quite fond of the “guest” right from the start and seemed enormously pleased that the “guest” thought Camm was someone she’d like to get to know. While Betty was very unsure and a bit defensive of the boys when she first met them, she clearly gravitated toward Camm.
This seemed quite promising, but Camm has RULES. Camm likes to enforce HER RULES. So there was initially some crating and rotating, until there wasn’t.
Don’t ever look to me for advice on integrating dogs. I break all the rules and am rather unconventional. Also, I’m not the most patient of Humans and I tend to jump on things, especially when they are going well. I am the Queen of Calculated Risks.
With some management, eagle eyes and careful observation, intervention when warranted, and Camm setting the boundaries on three major Rules: You Don’t Sniff Where Camm is Sniffing, You Don’t Share Sniffs With Camm, and You Don’t Poke Your Nose Up Camm’s Pantalones, the two girls were quickly getting along.
This even happened on the first day in the home office:
Within three days the girls were loose in the house with each other and all was going quite well. Betty did ask about the possibility of sleeping on the bed at the end of Day Three.
It was that night, Sunday, when I had one of the most profound conversations I’ve ever had with a dog. Camm communicated she was uncomfortable with Betty’s asking to sleep on the bed. Yet I could also see that Camm would allow it if I wanted it. I instead asked Camm for her feelings and told her it was up to her and that I wasn’t going to force anything she was not comfortable with because I respected her and would honor her feelings. She then very deliberately walked over to the bedroom crate and nudged the door. That was it. Betty slept in the crate.
Betty didn’t ask to get on the bed for the next several nights. One night, she briefly got on, with Camm on the bed too, and then decided the crate was a better spot for the night. There was no animosity between the girls but this picture shows they weren’t entirely comfortable.
On Saturday, Betty hopped on the bed and stayed the night. So much for my slow and steady approach.
When I woke up in the middle of the night last night, I saw the two girls laying butt to butt, touching, with Rhys laying his big noggin across Betty’s back.
This has been a break-in period, decompression in some ways, with Betty learning our routines, and very quickly settling in.
Betty decided that being a working sheep dog might not be her forte. She has already demonstrated that she is an excellent hiking companion and I’m very excited about summer adventures ahead and doing some exploring. Hopefully she’ll enjoy learning some tricks and learning how to play agility with me.
Say hello to Betty!