Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sam and Jocie vs. Margot

As I mentioned in my very first post, I knew that Sam and Jocie, my other two girls, would probably have a hard time adjusting to having young Margot running around the house.   After all, Sam and Jocie are both old (11 and 12 years, respectively), and neither of them have ever been very active dogs.  Sam is part coonhound, and pretty much her only activities include eating, sleeping, using the bathroom, and cuddling on the couch.  Jocie is part Border Collie, which is typically an active breed, but Jocie is, well, a bit on the heavier side, to put it tactfully.  She has also always preferred to spend most of her time alone in one of her preferred “hiding places,” rather than interact with Sam or Lexie. 

When we first brought Lexie home 8 years ago, Sam was approximately 2 years-old, but every bit as lazy as she is today.  Lexie kept trying to play with Sam, but it only made Sam nervous, and she would run to Chris, my late husband, for comfort and protection from the wild puppy.   (Oh yeah, I should mention that Sam is also a very nervous dog who is easily “traumatized” and has been known to eat large areas of fur off her back as a result.)  When Lexie attempted to cuddle Sam the first night we brought her home and Sam tried to run away, Chris actually made Sam lie still and let Lexie cuddle her, even though Sam really didn’t want to at first.   However, from that night on, Sam and Lexie became the BIGGEST cuddle buddies you’ve ever seen, and for the next 8 years, they were basically each other’s pillows and/or body-warmers. 
Therefore, I have been hoping that history will repeat itself, and hopefully Sam will learn to tolerate and eventually love Margot, just like she did with Lexie.   Until a couple days ago, though, I wasn’t so sure that was ever going to happen.  Sam was a nervous wreck for the first couple of days after we brought Margot home.  She eventually stopped being nervous after about the first week, but Sam still refused to let Margot have much contact with her and actually started hiding behind the sofa to get away from the crazy puppy.  

Jocie, on the other hand, hasn’t acted quite as upset about Margot joining our family, but Jocie has always been kind of an old bitty with very little tolerance for younger dogs, and Margot is apparently no exception.   If Margot tries to play with Jocie, Jocie gives off a low growl, just to let Margot know that she is not interested in playing with her.  On one or two occasions, Margot has continued to press her luck with Jocie, which resulted in Jocie actually barking and nudging Margot away, but she obviously has no intention of physically harming the puppy.  Still, I do try to discourage Jocie from growling and especially barking at Margot, but only if I feel like Jocie’s just being a grouch.  If, however, I see that Margot is truly overstepping her boundaries, I will let Jocie growl at her because I feel like Margot needs to “learn her place.”  As I mentioned in my previous post, Margot missed out on two whole weeks-worth of learning important lessons regarding discipline and dominance from her mother and siblings, so I feel like it’s actually a good thing that Jocie is establishing her personal boundaries with Margot.    I kind of wish Sam would be a little more assertive and do the same.

After watching Sam continuously run from, hide from, and generally avoid Margot for almost two weeks, I’ve started to feel really sorry for Sam, but also guilty for selfishly expecting Sam to be able to tolerate this rambunctious little puppy at her age.   So, I’ve made it my mission to make it up to her and also make sure that she and Jocie know they are still the Queens of our castle. 

Justin and I were already trying to be sure to give Sam and Jocie some undivided attention whenever possible, but we have recently decided to take that even a step further.  From now on, we will be taking Sam and Jocie on a puppy-free walk around the neighborhood each day after work, during which time Zach and Kristy, who live right next door, have agreed to puppy-sit for us!  It works out perfectly, because not only do Sam and Jocie get some much-needed exercise and enjoy a break from Margot, but Zach and Kristy get to spend some quality time with their “niece,” and spending time in a different environment with different people and animals (Kristy has three cats) will undoubtedly help Margot become a well-socialized puppy. 

Our first puppy-free walk was this past Monday, and it was even more successful than I had hoped!  Jocie and Sam were both grinning from ear to ear during their walk around the neighborhood.   They were both pretty exhausted when we got back, but they were also VERY happy girls, which made Justin and I very happy parents.   Margot was also having a blast at Aunt Kristy and Uncle Zach’s place when I went to pick her up, and Zach and Kristy seemed to enjoy having her.  So, I would definitely say that the daily puppy-free walks idea is a definite win-win for everyone.

I have saved the best news for last, though.  Later that night, as Sam and Jocie were both passing out after their big walk, Justin and I watched Margot climb up onto the futon where Sam had laid down to sleep.  We were prepared to yell at Margot if she tried to bite Sam’s ears or tail, which is what she usually does.  Instead, we watched in amazement as Sam actually allowed Margot to crawl on top of her and lie down on Sam’s back, and then both of them began to fall asleep!  I was beside myself with joy!  I immediately ran upstairs to grab my camera, hoping and praying that Sam wouldn’t change her mind and jump up before I had a chance to take a picture, but the two of them actually continued to cuddle for at least the next 30 minutes or so!  I don’t know if Sam was just so exhausted from her walk that she didn’t have the energy to protest or what, but seeing that magical moment was enough to convince me even more that daily puppy-free walks was the best idea EVER!

But wait!  There’s even more good news!  Despite the fact that Sam allowed Margot to cuddle her for a little bit on Monday night, she still hasn’t exactly grown to love Margot yet.  Sam continues to avoid the puppy for the most part, although she is definitely a little more tolerant about letting Margot romp around her for short periods of time.  Last night, a few friends came over to meet and play with Margot, and at one point I decided to let the girls out into the back yard.  After Margot chased Sam around the yard for a bit, Sam finally started barking at Margot, although not really in a “mean” way.  I just thought it was kind of funny that Margot wasn’t backing down, so I grabbed my iPhone and started filming it.  However, as you will hear in the video, there was a moment when I realized that Sam wasn’t just barking at Margot because she was annoyed by her, she was PLAYING with her!!!   I realized this after I noticed that Sam’s tail was wagging, and she even seemed to be smiling in between barks, but it wasn’t until Margot ran and Sam actually ran after her that I knew without a doubt that Sam was ACTUALLY playing with her!  As I said earlier, Sam has never really played much, not even as a puppy, which is why I couldn’t believe my eyes.   I am SO happy that I was able to capture this moment on video:

So, I would definitely say that some progress is being made in terms of Sam and Margot getting along, which makes me happier than I can even tell you.   I don’t really expect much more out of Jocie because she has always preferred to be a loner, but I do think her tolerance for Margot might improve as Margot grows out of her super-rambunctious stage.   Overall, we’ve still got a long road ahead of us, but at least now it feels more like an actual possibility that Sam and Margot might eventually become friends.   :)

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