Two dogs in one house. Plenty of people do it. Heck, I even have a colleague who owns nine or 10. (Disclosure: Those dogs pull a sled, so they’re likely tuckered out at the end of the day). Two dogs is doable. No sweat. What could possibly go wrong?
Those were the thoughts that pinged around in my noggin back in October, as my wife and I prepared to welcome a new bundle of joy (or something like that) into our home. The short answer: Nothing went wrong. That’s not to say that things haven’t become more … um … interesting.
Yes. That’s the word. Interesting.
Our new baby bird dog — an English cocker spaniel, to be precise — waddled into our hearts, and seemed quite calm at first. We should have known better the day we picked him up from Jeff McEvoy, the Grand Lake Stream guide who owns Weatherby’s sporting lodge.
“Calm?” he said, chuckling. “Yeah. OK.”
After announcing our adoption, many BDN readers have been asking for an update. “How’s the pup?” you ask. “Have you lost any shoes or slippers?” other puppy-owners have wanted to know. “Is he sleeping through the night yet?” others have chimed in.
Well, I’m glad you asked. And here, as promised, is a progress report on life with Teddy (or, for clarity in this column, “Little Dog.”)
First off, the great news: Little Dog has adapted very well to life with Genny (“Big Dog”). And he has been sleeping through the night, more or less, since we brought him home. There’s been the occasional 5 a.m. wakeup-whine, and an occasional bathroom accident, but for the most part, he’s been a model citizen, toilet-wise.
Here are a few milestones in his early development:
Little Dog loves his stuffed pheasant toy. Which, since he’s a baby bird dog with a reputedly world-class nose and desire to find and retrieve birds, is a good thing. The first time we tossed the pheasant, he chased it. Even brought it back. And he continues to do so, even though we’re not doing any official training right now. He sits on command, loves his people, and is always underfoot. Ah, yes. The “always underfoot” part. More on that in a minute.
Little Dog also loves Big Dog. A lot. Luckily, Big Dog is nice. Big Dog is tolerant and allows him to chase her around, wrestle with her, and essentially act like pesky little brothers do. She does, however, draw the line at excessive tail-biting. Unfortunately for her, she has a very long, active tail … and it’s often wagging right in Little Dog’s face. The “don’t bite your sister’s tail” lesson is ongoing. And Big Dog is turning out to be the teacher.
About that underfoot part: We learned that Little Dog loves following his people around the house. Well, actually, it turned out he was not really “following” anything. He was, apparently, actually trying to anticipate our next steps and get to that exact spot before we did. Turns out he was very good at that trick at first. It sounded a bit like this: (Walks under foot) YIPE! (Walks under another person’s foot) YIPE! It also turns out that he’s a pretty fast learner. After a week of YIPES, he decided that anticipating his owner’s next move was not a good strategy for foot health. He’s largely abandoned the practice.
Little Dog is tenacious. He is fearless. And he doesn’t really seem to know what he’s capable of. That, as you might expect, leads to a pretty good floor show. For instance, Teddy didn’t realize that he was unable to leap from the floor onto the couch quite yet. Each day, dozens of times a day, he’d fling himself at the couch, running full-speed, and try to vault onto the sofa. Each day, dozens of times a day, he face-planted against the cushion, bounced back, and tried again. Eventually, he’d grudgingly allow us to hoist him up. Then he’d leap on slumbering Big Dog and begin chewing her tail.
First, he learned how to scramble up to his desired perch. Then, this week, he finally succeeded in leaping up on his own. It was a proud moment. His mother and I nearly cried.
Then this happened: Little Dog decided he wanted to become a Flying Wallenda. Or something like that.
He’s always walked along the back of the couch, tightrope style, and has rarely fallen. But the other day, conditions were perfect for him to advance his circus act. He spied Big Dog sitting on the floor, four feet away from the couch. He stood on the edge of a cushion (apparently impressed with his newfound leaping prowess) and launched himself at her head.
Little Dog flew over the top of Big Dog, landed in a pile, and slid halfway across the floor. It was a failed dive, but was quite spectacular, in an Evel Knievel kind of way.
Little Dog has learned where dishes go to get clean, and loves the smell of human food, even if it’s on a soon-to-be-washed pot or pan. He especially likes the fact that dishwashers are equipped with a convenient loading gate — the door — that he can stand upon while sniffing all those glorious dishes.
As for his bird-dog training, for now Little Dog is just enjoying being a pup. He scampers around on the lawn in the side-to-side pattern that he’ll use when he’s looking for grouse, and that bodes well. He’s learning “No,” and comes when called.
Little Dog has also made friends with our large, semi-lumpy cat. At least, I think that’s how you’d describe their relationship. You could also call them “mutual chew toys” if you wanted.
Their playtime is full of hugs (or claws) and wrestling. And the other day, we had a breakthrough that could pay dividends.
I looked up and noticed that Little Dog was on top of the cat, and that the cat had wrapped his front legs around the pup. Undeterred, Little Dog pushed and pulled the cat around the hardwood floor, turning Vinnie the Claw into a virtual feline Swiffer. That section of floor has never been so clean.
Note to self: We might have to let them try that trick again when the floor needs sweeping.
John Holyoke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. or 990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke