A dog is a joyous addition to a household. There is mutual love and devotion. There is loyalty, trust and companionship.
Having one dog is a pleasure.
Having two dogs is an on-going comedy show.
There is something about the way animals respond to each other, independent of how they relate to their human, that is hilarious. They jump into competition for affection, treats, the best spot on the sofa and the title of “good dog.” They align with each other to fool me, or to try to finally catch that elusive squirrel. Perfectly dignified dogs become “Mutt and Jeff.”
My first pair was Maggie and Clover. Maggie was a 100 pound lab-malamute mix who loved to walk and loved to swim. Clover was a fifty pound pit-bull, boxer mix, the younger and friskier of the two.
Maggie was too arthritic to get up onto the furniture. She had comfortable dog beds at her level in bedroom and living room. Clover wanted to be in the bedroom, too, when I was there, but Maggie refused to let her. Her stern growl would send the smaller dog back down the stairs every time.
One day, Clover was sleeping in my bed before I got there. Maggie came up the stairs with me. She noticed the infraction, and grumbled her displeasure, but Clover kept very still and held her place at the foot of the bed. When morning came, and she realized she’d gotten away with it, and had spent the entire night in the bed. she grinned (no other dog could grin like Clover could!) and jumped on me, covering my face with kisses.
“Grrrrrr…..” was Maggie’s response.
Maggie would stroll down the Fox Lake Road, tail wagging like a flag, pausing at every interesting odor. Clover would run, full blast, flinging her head from side to side. I imagined her thoughts as the smells registered:
“Dog…squirrel…another squirrel…chipmunk…snake…another squirrel…deer…”
Meanwhile, Maggie would stand in one spot, her nose doing a thorough assessment, like a connoisseur of fine wine:
“Hmmm….dog…a beagle…neutered….five or six years old…eats a diet of dry Purina dog food…chewed on a beef bone recently…probably chasing a squirrel…”
When Maggie would start barking at something in the yard, Clover would blast out the door with her, looking for whatever threat was out there. I imagined, then, Maggie taking on a John Wayne tone, as she offered advice:
“Yeah, that’s good, keep barking…no, it was just a wren, no big deal…She doesn’t know that though…bark like you mean business…could be a coyote…could be a snake…hell, partner, it could be a bear, for all she knows…just keep walking…bark…bark…bark…out the back door and bark your way around to the side door…keep that concerned look on your face…scratch and she’ll let us in…here’s the point, now…wait for it…a biscuit! I tell ya, little buddy, she falls for it every time!”