Greetings! Alert readers of this column will notice that I have changed the title for today. The reason for this is that I would like to speak with you regarding the subject of my dear little sister’s upcoming…as she terms it…Gotcha Day.
I met Mayzie for the first time at her foster mother’s house. I thought she seemed nice enough, albeit a bit too forward. She insisted upon shadowing my every move, uttering things like, “Hi. Whatcha doing? I think you’re cute. I really like that spot on your head…does it come off? Whatcha sniffin’?” Occasionally I would say, “Please, miss, you’re crowding me a bit.” And she would just wag her tail and say, “Oh gosh, I’m most sorry! Hey! Have you sniffed over here? It smells GREAT!”
Quite honestly, I was relieved when we got in the truck and left. All mom and dad could talk about was how well we got along. I had no idea why this thrilled them so but I dismissed it and thought no more about it.
Until two weeks later, when they brought her home. My, what a surprise! They had been telling me that I was going to have a little sister. But (and I am quite embarrassed about this now), I had no idea the definition of that term. Having never had a sister before, for all I knew it meant, “someone who comes for a visit and then leaves.” And that’s exactly what I thought was going to happen.
So, being the proper host that I am, I did my best to make her feel at home. But the girl was, how shall I put this delicately?, backwards. She didn’t even know how to walk up and down stairs, for crying out loud poor dear. And it seemed odd to me that mom and dad were putting a lot of effort and time into someone who wasn’t going to be staying. Finally I decided to address this with dad and I asked him point-blank when she was leaving. Imagine my shock when I learned that “sister” meant that she was now a permanent part of our family!!!
This, of course, changed everything. I immediately set about establishing boundaries and rules. The first rule I established was what belonged to me. Which was, of course, everything. The couch, the bed, the toys (which I admit, I hadn’t played with in years), mom, dad…all of it was mine. I also established a 2 foot zone around me that was my own personal space and which she must not cross at any time or risk the consequences.
Mom and Dad soon explained to me that I did not, in fact, own everything. And that I must learn to “share.” As an only dog, this “sharing” concept was a difficult one but with my parents’ constant nagging gentle reminders, it is one that I have finally been able to grasp.
The break-through in our relationship came on the night this photo was taken. Mayzie had lived with us for approximately two months. We were in the backyard and well, I don’t know what came over me. She looked so sad and forlorn. Suddenly I could see how new and frightening all this must be to her. And I knew in my heart that I hadn’t helped ease her difficult transition into a real household. So, I took a deep breath and invited her to a rousing game of chase. When we got finished, we ran inside and jumped on the couch and my mother, with her ubiquitous camera, snapped the picture you see here.
After that, I decided that perhaps having a sister wasn’t so bad. She has actually taught me a lot about simply relaxing and enjoying the finer points of being a dog.
Like the art of tug (which, by the way, I always win)…
And that delightful bitey-face game…
For my part, I have made it a point as her big brother to lead by example. For instance, if we are in a situation she finds frightening, I try to show her that it truly isn’t so terrible and she seems to gain courage from that. I am proud of the progress she has made and I believe – in the most humble way, of course – that this is due in no small part to my guidance.
Of course, I still insist on my own personal space. She’s always asking if she can cuddle with me and I steadfastly refuse (ahem, well, on most occasions anyway). And if she tries to run over me during a game of chase, I can assure you that I give her a piece of my mind.
But, for the most part, I am finding that the word “sister” means more to me than I ever thought it could.
Oh, and if you ever breathe a word of this to her, I shall deny every bit of it.
This is Ranger…wishing you good-night and good biscuits.