Sunday, September 4, 2011

The two girls

I had a couple of plans when we brought Haddie home on Wednesday. The main plan focused on our family pet; a six year old Beagle named Cora. She came to us at the age of two after retirement as a Champion Show dog and after her first litter of puppies. She is a dream dog to our family; we are very grateful for our connection.
When we vacation - she spends time back with her breeder. Sometimes as the solo beagle, other times with a handful of beagles, other times with just one other. She was an agility class dog for the first 18 months of being under our wing and proved to handle stranger-dogs with ease. But when it comes to welcoming another dog to our house, I was truly uncertain how the meeting and acceptance would go.
Reading about joining two dogs into a household, I decided upon a plan that worked best for our family. I am not sure if we followed it to the letter, I am sure I made up some of it as we went along, but thankfully it worked.

The two dogs were absent of each other for the first three full days. When Haddie was out, Cora was in her kennel in another area of the house. And vice versa. They smelled each other's belongings, but were not allowed to share each other's toy or bed. Cora did amazingly well, including putting up with any of Haddie's noisy fuss when Haddie transitioned to her kennel. Her barks were heard throughout the house, regardless of the fact that she could not be seen, Cora did not care. She did not copy, and she did not scratch the door where the noise was coming from. She ignored.
While this created a lot of juggling and forethought from the peeps in this house, I would do it again. It allowed time for Haddie to do several things; get to know us and bond as much as possible in three short days, learn to look at us when we called her name, and learned to come Here when we gave the command.

The meeting was last night. The breaking point was that we had had a family party to celebrate my soon-to-be birthday girl; and the dogs had had enough rotation during the day, it was hot, the party was over, the dogs needed energy released ... and well, we were just ready!!
My son leashed Cora while I had already been in the backyard leashed with Haddie. I think the best part was that neither dog made a sound. I was expecting Cora to give a few Beagle "Arooo's" at the youngster. But she did not. The worrisome part was when Cora decided on her own to lay down and roll over. Sigh. I was bummed. She had given up quickly on showing her right ownership to Top Dog in the house.
We came inside and separated the two in their kennels. I am no Dog Psychologist to know if that was what was really taking place (establishing Top Dog status) but I just expected more out of Cora. I know she is a sweet and caring dog by nature, but I just wasn't expecting that behavior from her so quickly. Haddie just looked at her shocked, and then I called Cora up before Haddie got any ideas of pinning her in a dog-friendly way.
Fast forward - by the end of the evening both dogs were at my feet, unleashed, paying no attention to one another. It helped greatly that both dogs are SOLD! on the Food Reward system. It kept their attention on me, rather than each other. Eventually one of the dogs would find a spot to lay down, and the other dog went about it's normal routine.
And the bonding time between Haddie and her Volunteer Raisers (us) to train her to know her name and find us on the Here command?  Proved to be Brilliant. I was able to call Haddie out of social time with Cora on the lawn and in the house every.single.time.
The two girls are friends. Whew!

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