Now these two. I spent about a year, after Clover passed away, wondering whether to get another dog. I work long hours, and have a lot of guilt about the time my dogs spend alone. Would a second dog be a good companion for Rosa Parks, or just double the guilt for me? My sister has a camera in her house, so that she can keep an eye on her two pups while she’s at work. They don’t really interact much, she told me, until close to the time either she or her husband are expected home. Then they get up and start looking out windows. Two veterinarians and the woman who boards my dogs when I travel all assured me that dogs do offer comfort to each other, even if they’re not actively playing. I finally made a decision, and brought Darla home to join the family.
Rosa Parks was unimpressed. She had not been unhappy being the sole beneficiary of all of my attention. Darla, too, in our drive across the state, had come away with the idea that she was going to be an “only dog.” Neither one was happy with having to compete for treats or attention. They got along, for my sake only, but took their time becoming friends.
Some of those habits linger. If Darla is acting up, begging at the table or clambering for the attention of guests, Rosa Parks will remove herself from the situation. Suddenly she, the bossiest, most demanding and spoiled of the two, is sitting calmly off to the side, one paw crossed casually over the other, with a look of absolute superiority on her face. “Do you see this?” I imagine her saying, “I am the good dog!”
When Rosa Parks whimpers and – one ear to the floor, tail in the air – begs me to stop what I am doing and give her some attention, Darla is quick to take advantage of the opportunity. While I’m on the floor rubbing Rosa’s ears and tummy, the big dog wants her belly rubbed, too. Rosa refuses to give up her spot, but takes on a pained expression as Darla – without fail – rolls right over on top of her.
Over the course of the last several months, though, the dogs have developed a rapport. I notice when they rush out the door to chase wild turkeys out of the yard, they look at each other, a shared mission, as they go around the corner of the house. They’ve learned to take turns begging for treats, so that neither appears too greedy, but both benefit from the handout. At their last doctor visit, Darla stoically endured being poked and prodded by the veterinarian. Then it was the little dog’s turn. Rosa Parks was simply having her nails clipped. Always the drama queen, her response might lead one to believe she was at least enduring an amputation. The vet and I grinned at her melodrama. Suddenly, from her place in the corner of the room, Darla started talking. Not a bark and not quite a howl, but the sound dogs make when they are trying to sing…clearly she was not pleased with what we were putting Rosa Parks through! “Leave her alone,” was my interpretation. At last, my dogs have become friends!