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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Canine Sibling Rivalry



The reason I put up with a triad of ill-behaved male canines and even consider letting them live in a house with new carpet, is they make me laugh.


Well that and, even though the Berners are big, dumb sweethearts, from the street they sound like oversized, crazed carnivores. My answer to instigating some aspect of home safety.  (I guess I could confiscate an alarm company placard and transport it to my yard.)



Here is the rundown on how things work at my house. Odin, at 100 pounds, is the smaller of the two Bernese Mountain dogs.  He is a take it or leave it kind of a guy and if there is food or belly scratching or a cat in the yard, he’ll angle to be involved but if it isn’t convenient he’s got better things to do.  On occasion and at his leisure, he sits politely and nudges his head under my hand for some ear scratches.



A few days ago, while the other two boys were distracted, Odin comes up, does some nudging and settles in for a bit of attention.  A while later, Oscar, who has about 30 pounds on Odin, notices that someone, who is not him, is getting attention and did he mention that the recipient of attention is not him!?! Clearly this is unacceptable and he barrels over. A quick body slam and enormous head butt and Odin (you can almost see him roll his eyes) meanders off to find an activity that isn’t a full contact sport.


The thing about Oscar is he has absolutely no concept of his size or of any personal space parameters.  He is sure you would enjoy all of his weight leaning against your legs or his big backside sitting on your lap or, at the very least, an enormous paw on your shoulder.  And, if not redirected, he will demand attention for hours. So now he is dug in for an afternoon of head pats and “good boy” discussions.


Little Man, the adopt-a-Chihuahua terrorist suddenly notices that mom . . .  his mom . . .  his own personal mom, is paying attention to the intellectually inferior (all be it much, much larger) brother.  He has two options. If possible, he jumps on my lap, inching forward, big eyes looking pitiful and apologetic while he attempts to wedge his little head under my hand. 


This strategy ends up with coordinated head pats and my continued amazement that a delicate, pool ball sized cranium and an enormous bread box sized melon had a common ancestor.


The other option, which he selects on this instance, is intimidation. Seven pounds of lap dog swagger rushes the twenty times heavier block of working dog muscle. Oscar spreads his front legs a bit, widening his stance, lowers his head and turns it away from the onslaught. Oscar’s strategy, slowly turn, offering his shoulder and eventually the little maniac will think he has made his point, and move along.


Odin, hearing there is puppy wrestling, rushes in and Oscar and Odin do the big dog, standing up, Titan clash.  Little Man, no longer interested in mom attention, is once again in a dilemma.  He desperately wants to participate but, with eight oversized paws he is at risk of some serious damage. He settles for running in a circle around the big boys, as close as he dares and barking like crazy, while he stays out of accidental stepping on range.


After a bit of bravado, the big boys settle down and interaction become more along the line of stretched out mouthing of ears and pawing of noggins. This is part I find most amusing.  The adopt-a-Chihuahua surveys the situation and assesses that both big boys have finally shown proper respect for his authority.  He saunters up Odin, engages in a few ear nips, which Odin carefully exchanges. Then he moves on to Oscar, who has just rolled over from four paws dangling in the air, and whose head is resting on his crossed paws.


Oscar follows his progress with his eyes, and makes an audible sigh.  Little Man gets a running start and throws his entire body weight against Oscar’s head. (This, for some reason, I find hilarious.  I think it is a combination of Oscar’s eternal patience and Little Man’s belief that he is actually making an impact.) Oscar lets him go at it a few times, sighs again, and shifts his head over a bit.  Little Man, swagger intact, nestles in between two enormous paws and an oversized chest, surveys his kingdom and closes his eyes. A job well done.


I’m easily entertained

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