7/11/08

Brothers They Be

I have two puppies left - Spin and Slow Joe who we now call JoJo. They have both inherited their mom's lack of immunity to the demedec mange mite and are undergoing treatment. This condition haunted their mother until the day she died - contributing directly to the complications involved in her death. I had hoped they would not be haunted with it, but they are. However, their cases are not as extreme currently and the vet believes it to be treatable.

Out of PURE NECESSITY, I have had to "leash train" these two boys. I had not intended for them to ever leave the boundaries of the farm but this treatment is required. They are now in excess of 40 pounds and I simply can not carry them in to the vet office. Actually, I can but the 14 year old assistant he has can not handle them when they turn to jello and slip and slide through his arms. Thus the training began two weeks ago.

These two brothers have distinct personalities. Spin looks just like Diamond and he has her never ending desire to please others. If he is asked once to do something, the request never has to be re-issued. Punishment of Spin results in an all day pout where he ignores, hides and avoids all human contact. Fortunately, he very seldom needs punishment.

When I introduced Spin to the collar and leash, he was excited. He saw new opportunities to play and spend time with me. It took exactly one circle around the house for him to figure out that, when attached to this thing, his best position was by my side. That's his favorite place anyway, so there was no issue. The other night as we were practicing, his collar slipped off his tiny head. Bulldogs have large muscled necks. Their necks sort of melt into their heads and then their noses protrude just a bit. Finding a collar to stay on that neck is impossible. Spin's collar routinely slips off over his ears. Instead of running or sitting down, he realized he should still be attached so he picked the collar up in his mouth and hung on while we kept walking. It was a hoot to see his antics. He was thrilled when I slipped it back over his head.

When I introduced Joe to the collar he was offended. Joe is like his father. His spirit is free and his will is his own. Were it not for his drive to protect what is his, he would just go his own way. However, we belong to him and it's his duty to protect. He even protects Spin from rogue cats on most occasions. To collar and leash Joe is a horrific insult to his being. So, every practice session for the last two weeks is a series of tugs and eventual give ins and then more tugs and give ins. The glare from his eyes is enough to send chills. It's obvious he's planning horrible futures for me and that collar! And to make matters worse, Spin LOVES to help me pull Joe along, always grabbing the leash and tugging it towards me. He knows Joe should enjoy it as much as him - if only he could convince him.

All the while during our practice, Brutus is watching and anxiously awaiting me to turn his boys loose. He has figured out these are his children and he does not like to see them being tugged about. Rocky is usually somewhere barking and snapping at their hills in his run by episodes.

So, this morning, we put our leash training through its first real trial. Spin was easily lead and loaded into the car. Joe was dragged and then hoisted into the car. Fortunately, I planned ahead and had an old housedress on over my clothes. Spin insisted on riding shotgun quickly placing himself into the front seat - happily riding by my side. Joe layed down and glared at me through the rear view mirror.

As we got out of the car, I once again had to hoist Joe out of the seat and spent a lot of energy and sweat dragging him through the door. Spin kept walking in and out and out and in as if to say "Joe - LOOK - you just do this!" Joe was not amused. We got to the counter and they sat on command - VICTORY. Then the receptionist came out and Spin literally squealed as if to say "Hey- I'm back - aren't you glad" He continued to whine - not an "I dread this" whine but a "I know the world loves me whine" to the point people were laughing. Everyone that laughed got his silly look of appreciation.

Joe sat there. He just sat there, glaring at me, the floor, the walls and everyone else. Poor Joe. I am not sure he will ever let us touch him again after the dipping. He's stronger and stronger willed than Spin. This day is not going to make him the least bit happy. He will never let me put the collar on him again.

It amazes me how these two puppies, from the day they were born have been completely different personalities. Where Spin was weak and struggling to just keep alive, Joe was lazy and unwilling to cooperate- even with the bottle feedings. For two weeks, I force fed him. Where Spin has an energy and desire to explore, Joe has a desire to guard and be left alone. Spin will cuddle and leave, Joe will sit in your lap all day long. They play together and we see them rewriting their unspoken rules every day. Joe tends to push and dominate, Spin is passive aggressive, simply laying down and quitting if things get too rough - at which point Joe normally just sits down on top of him but Spin doesn't care.

Nature amazes me. These are dogs - nothing more - just dogs. But these are also children I have raised in honor of their mother who I adored. I adore them as well and I adore watching them grow - from 1 ounce to 40 pounds in three months so far! It saddens me that they have inherited the one thing I have worked so hard to try to prevent - a condition that will cause them suffering to either recover from or endure. I had originally said I would not ask them as I asked their mother to endure something like this. Time has passed however and I have become attached. I have also realized these last few weeks, that they have a tremendous will to live and I don't have the right to take that away from them simply to avoid a little expense and guilt of my own.

So, brothers they be these two boys. They are as cherished in my life as their mother ever was and I wondered if I could EVER say that about another dog. What a blessing to have two of them to remind me that the one will always stay a sweet memory.

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