Darla, the newest canine family member at my house, has been with us for almost a month now. She seems to be settling in nicely.
Rosa Parks did not, at first, appreciate the new companion as much as I imagined she would. Nor did Darla, who thought she was going to have me all to herself, like finding that the chubby little dog felt proprietorship of me and the house. They begrudgingly tried to get along, for my sake. They each warily kept an eye on each other. It took a couple weeks before they started to have fun together. Now, they are good companions.
My back yard often has dog toys scattered around it these days. Before I get the mower out, I wander around to pick things up. One knotted rope toy, two chew bones, an old slipper, a squeaky rubber chicken and a half dozen stuffed animals. As I pick up each item, Darla grins and wanders over, happy to take it off my hands. She loves a toy! She brought her own stuffed terry-cloth puppy when she came to live with me. Tail wagging, she goes through the basket of old and neglected toys to find new-to-her treasures. When we walk, she often carries a soft toy all the way down the Fox Lake Road. She wants to bring something outside with her every time she leaves the house. Distracted by other things, she forgets to bring them back inside.
Though she was a little afraid of the water at the beginning, Darla now enjoys wading whenever we go to Fox Lake. She still doesn’t swim. At first, Darla was quite nervous about every ride in the car. She now understands that it almost always means fun, and she jumps right in when invited. She pays attention to my whereabouts when we walk together. She stays pretty close, and comes to me when she’s called. She doesn’t go out of the yard without me.
Because of her size, and because I live in the woods, I was nervous about how Darla would react to deer. If she wanted to give chase, I would have to keep her in an enclosed space. It turns out, she is very interested in birds, snakes and bugs, but doesn’t take much interest in deer. When they come into the yard, she growls and woofs; they turn and run, and that’s the end of it.
Darla likes to be close to me, and will follow me into the smallest spaces. There is no room to step out of the shower, with two dogs crowded into the bathroom with me. I often trip over the big dog when I get out of bed or turn from the sink or washing machine. She likes to sleep right beside my chair or bed. She and Rosa Parks often rest, side-by-side on their cushions on the floor.
Just a few weeks into this, I think Darla is working out just fine!