"Stay, Belle. I'll be home soon."
She looked up at me from her cushion next to the front door, surrounded by Max's entire collection of stuffed toys, plus the ones Daniel and I brought home from our shopping trip yesterday (a fish, an abstract Santa, a lobster... we learned the hard way not to bring home toys for Max to chew on that looked like real animals he might find on the property. You can figure out why.)
Max didn't seem to mind that she had confiscated the toys. I'm no longer worried that he thinks she's Alpha - he's put her in her place a few times now, bared teeth and all. He recognizes that she's just a baby, and so he tolerates more than he would with another dog, but he has his limits! As a parent, I understand that all too well!
Belle stayed put as I went up the path to the car. She stayed! What a dog! Is she the smartest puppy in the world, or what? I grew up with Beagles that would be off in a flash if you didn't latch the gate in time or, on a walk, have a firm grip on their leash. It still amazes me that we've had dogs - not just a dog, but dogs - that stick close to the house, that follow us on leashless walks rather than dashing off and never returning.
Of course, I realize that Frankie's presence might have had something to do with her obedience this morning. He was several feet away in the small front yard, "innocently" pecking at bugs and grass. But he charged at her several times on our morning walk; he left no marks, didn't break the skin (I checked), but she was keeping her distance, all the same. Can you blame her?
Max had already disappeared into the doghouse and it was tough leaving her there by herself on the porch, even if it was for just a short time. What if Frankie attacked her again?
I'll be glad when that bird "calms his feathered ass down", as my sister put it. I have a couple of theories of why he's being such a bully, based on my one semester of Psychology:
- Pure sibling rivalry. After all, until now he was the "baby"...the one who got all kinds of attention. Or...
- He realizes he better put the 'fear' into the dog now, earn some respect, while she's still smaller than him. Which is actually pretty smart. Unless it backfires, and she remembers all of this when the tables have turned and she's towering over him with powerful jaws.
We took our regular walk to the bend in the road this morning. Max was so cute, so excited to have someone to play with - at least for the first half of the walk. He pounced and spun and play-bit, and Belle just ate it up, running and jumping all around him. But Max isn't really a puppy anymore. He is actually, in dog years, middle aged, with arthritis, and aches and pains, and by the return trip, he just wanted to plod along like boring grown-ups tend to do, tired of playing. "Leave me alone, kid, ya bother me..."
By then, Frankie had done his little terrorizing stints and Belle was sticking pretty close to my heels, keeping me between her and the bird.
And that's when it hit me...I'm playing referee to three little kids again. Two boys and a baby girl, no less. Go figure.
Frankie met me in the road when I pulled into our little parking lot. I could see Max lying on the porch and when I started down the walk, here came Miss Belle running toward me through the woods, ears flopping; her joy at my return was so powerful, I could feel it by just looking at her.
When Tom got home, we took 'the kids' for another walk, and I'm pleased to report there were no bird attacks this time. It might be that Frankie was too distracted by all of the bugs, but whatever the reason, everyone seemed to have a good time and get along. Just one big happy critter family. Max taught Belle how to eat grass and deer pellets, they waded into the pond and got their bellies wet, and played chase through the tall grass and yucca plants.
I love it when the kids get along.