"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

As the World Turns, All My Children, The Guiding Light, General Hospital

We've had a little canine drama at our house, lately.  My two girls who adore each other and have always been so lovey dovie are getting on each other's nerves.

Two things are going on that I can tell.  First, Pearl is just about grown up.
She'll be two this month and as far as she is concerned, life is good and she is entitled to everything she is entitled to.  That means all the toys are hers.  She gets the bed.  She is the baby.  Mom belongs to her.  Dad belongs to her.  Evelyn is a wonderful sister so long as she doesn't get on the bed, take her toys or hog mom or dad.  And that is the way it has always been so, apparently, that is the way life is supposed to be.  That is just the natural order.  She is getting set in her ways. 

The second thing happening is that Evelyn has decided to change the rules. 
She's finally figured out that she, too, can get on the bed and snuggle.  She's figured out that if she comes over to get petted, we drop everything and pet her.  She figured out that if she wags her tail and ruffs at us, stuff happens - frequently good stuff because she is just so darn cute and puppylike.
Additionally, Pearl's puppy dispensation has FINALLY run out.  That means that if Pearl has a toy and Evelyn wants it, Evelyn will just take it.  Unlike Pearl, who has no sense of humor about this, Evelyn thinks it is hysterical to wag it in Pearl's face and make her nuts.

If Pearl tries to hog the couch, Evelyn will pretend she doesn't see her and just sit on her.  Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth.  Pearl gets quite upset and Evelyn, for the most part, will just wag her tail and give her kisses (but stays on the couch).

Poor Pearlie.
A few weeks ago, Evelyn invented a game for when we are outside on the patio in  the evening.  She waits by us and when Pearl goes out on the yard to do her business, Evelyn goes into stalk mode, staring at Pearl from the patio and creeping up on her.  In the beginning, Pearl was thrilled at having her invite her to play.  She'd run at her, delightedly, and Evelyn would flip her on the grass until she wore herself out.  They appeared to be having a fantastic time and Pearl was having at least as much fun as Evelyn.

Look at that fur coat!:

After a couple of weeks, I realized that what was going on was that Evelyn was actually keeping Pearl off the patio where we were sitting.  Pearl thought it was a great game until she realized what was happening.
Evelyn still thinks that is an hysterical game.  Sometimes Pearl agrees but lately, Pearl has gotten more aggressive and fights harder to get onto the patio.  Evelyn generally gives way if Pearl wants it bad enough.  I used to think Pearl was just a mama or daddy's baby because she stayed close to us while Evelyn wandered the yard.  Now, I am beginning to wonder if this is actually a possessive streak. 

Pearl doesn't think any of this is funny.

If Pearl is on the bed and Evelyn walks by, Pearl gets tense.  She stands up and stares at her.  If Evelyn stares back, Pearl jumps on her head with a squeal like a chimp.  Normally when this happens, Evelyn will just shrug her off and go climb up on her love seat.  But sometimes (and I think this is just to spite Pearl), she'll think about it a few minutes, then climb down off the love seat and jump on the bed.  I swear, she would prefer her love seat but hassling Pearl is just too much fun. 

If Pearl comes in and Evelyn is already on the bed, Pearl jumps up, looks completely distressed and tries to get between Evelyn and me.  Sometimes she will bite Evelyn's foot.  Evelyn doesn't seem to care if Pearl comes up on the bed.   If Pearl can get between the two of us, she presses her head down on my arm or shoulder or stomach, hard, as if to keep me from moving closer to Evelyn.  Her latest strategy is to shove in between us and lay on Evelyn.  She'll flop down like a bag of wet sand.   Evelyn doesn't care, she just snores and smiles in her sleep, which really aggravates Pearl.  Which, I suspect, is the point. 
Sometimes Pearl gets so exasperated that she gets down off the bed in a huff and pouts.
This tickles Evelyn who will then stretch out in the vacated space, making loud, contented noises
 I can hear Pearl snort in disgust from the bathroom. 

Before all this drama, having Pearl on the bed was no problem.  She understands that we get first dibs and if there is a conflict, she has to move (although she has tried to muscle in on Husband, lately - she doesn't even go there with me - I wouldn't put up with it for a nanosecond).   Evelyn has always let Pearl have the toys and never seemed to mind if Pearl was getting all the attention, including being petted. 

These days, I feel like I am constantly petting two dogs because as soon as one comes over, the other tries to squeeze in between.  As I said, Evelyn seems to be having a blast (you should see the sparkle in her eyes) but Pearl looks like she is going to have a nervous breakdown.
Fortunately, we aren't having any food competition issues.  They have always been very, very polite dogs.  But then, they were always polite to each other about the bed and toys, too. 

Not sure where all this is going to go but I am going to let them sort it out for awhile.  As for the bed, I figure it is a lot like having feuding siblings who want mama to ban the other one from Thanksgiving dinner.  My take on it is that the invitation is open to all and so long as they behave, they are welcome.   Given that Evelyn doesn't seem to mind sharing the bed but it makes Pearl nuts, I suspect Evelyn may ultimately win that battle.

Something to consider in dealing with difficult humans, actually. 

Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl


Anonymous said...

Hon you better check out the dog whisperer because according to the pack mentality you are handling every thing all wrong. The bad part is that it will only get worse untill one or the other gets hurt and if it gets really bad they will fight constantly. I know its easy to think it is cute right now but things can change very quickly.

Penny said...

Yeah, I know the Dog Whisperer would have a fit but I'm not at all a fan of the dog whisperer so am not worried about it. I've read a zillion dog behavior books (and keep up as new ones come out), had four Samoyeds (which don't compare in temperament to the other dogs I've had) and consult with rescue folks on issues like this. The pack mentality theory has been largely debunked by most animal behaviorists who specialize in dog behavior but that doesn't mean I don't believe that I need to be in charge. And I am - this is a battle between two females, not between me and them. No one is going to get hurt - I am not dealing with intact dogs that fight over mates or food. These dogs have never even drawn blood on each other - ever. And I know a lot of people don't allow dogs up on the bed but I am not one of them. If I wouldn't let them on the bed, I wouldn't let them in the house. But I know where you are coming from because what you are saying is an established view of dog training. I appreciate the heads up and you being concerned enough to bring it to my attention.

Anonymous said...

Great writing, again! And laugh out loud funny. I love your pets from afar - and have no responsibilities with my cyber pets.

ranette said...

Sounds like my kids during a "rough" weekend...lol

Sherry said...

KIDS! What can you do with 'em?

Raising dogs (or any other animal)...is like raising kids. You can not put them in a mold. One specific technique does not work for all...