Sunday, May 31, 2009

A couple of weeks into our new living arrangement, I am happy to report there's been no bloodletting. Maybe Max is mellowing in his old age. Okay, that's an over-simplification. Max is minding his manners, mostly. More importantly, Buddy's temperament makes him easy to live with. He is such an easy-going dog that nothing riles him. Not even Max snapping at him. When Max does go off, and there have been a few occasions, Buddy is smart enough to walk away and give Max his props.

This is really a great experiment in social behavior. I'm getting to witness the natural order of things within the canine pack. It's fascinating and funny how they navigate the rules of acceptable behavior. They don't need a criminal justice system to keep them in line, the pack leader does that. In this case, that would be me.

The pecking order goes like this....I'm first, then Max, and then everybody else. Buddy understands that. He's naturally a follower, and he's happy to let Max show him the ropes. Although I must add that Max has learned a few things from Buddy as well.

The first few days were touch and go around some predictable issues, mainly food and territory. Buddy eats half as much as Max, and it takes him twice as long. He slowly chews each morsel, enjoying every bite. Max on the other hand attacks his food. He puts his head down, inhales and when he looks up, it's all gone. I think he's even surprised by how quickly it gets away. He always has this look of dismay when he finishes. He walks back into the kitchen, as if to say "Call the po-lice. Someone stole my food!!" Initially, Buddy would walk away from his bowl with a few bites left and Max would swoop in to finish it off, like Mikey. Poor Buddy would go back to the bowl a few minutes later, only to find his left-overs had up and left. I had to put a stop to that so Buddy could get his nourishment.

Max's most cherished possessions are Mr. Jack, a five-pronged brightly primary-colored toy that squeaks when you squeeze it, and a ball, any tennis ball. Up until now, no one has dared mess with either. Buddy has managed to play with both, not entirely without incident, mainly because he defers to Max. He waits until Max is finished before taking a turn. Max has never been good with sharing his ball. I cringe when another dog runs into his game because I know there's gonna be a fight. Buddy has made that mistake a couple of times and Max has chastised him. Duly noted, Buddy lets out a sharp retort in anguish, like "I can't believe how mean you are", but he always gives Max a wide berth. I'm there to keep things safe, but I let them work it out and they seem to manage just fine.

Buddy has taught Max how to enjoy the simple things in life... like a dog biscuit and a chew. Max has never been interested in treats if they didn't smell, or taste like meat, but seeing Buddy enjoy a nice reward makes him want it too. He's also learned that sharing things, like his bed for instance, can open the door to new experiences in a different bed. And he's learning that old dogs can learn new tricks.

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