It’s a question I get a lot. Much like when a younger sibling enters the family picture, people seem to be curious about how the previous only-child canine is faring with the change brought about by the presence of a new puppy.
In general, Truman’s pretty happy to have another dog to play with; he has always preferred the kind of tug-and-wrestle play that other dogs provide to the toss-and-retrieve games I tried to get him excited about (“Humans can be fun!” … “Whatever. I fetched it for you once, what more do you want from me? This is a pointless exercise. Feed me, then we’ll talk.”).
That having been said, there’s been a little jealousy — I’m assuming that’s natural for a pretty demanding attention-hound who’s been the center of his own universe for three and a half years. The puppy takes up a lot of time and energy, and sometimes Truman makes his displeasure known in the extremely vocal manner to which we have all been accustomed. When I cradle Jethro, for example, Truman stands and stares at me and makes the “grumpus noise” (grunt-grunt-grunt-whiiiiiiiine), which escalates to “whuff”ing and then full-scale barking if I do not immediately stop what I’m doing and cater to his whims. As you may surmise, this is unacceptable. So Truman gets to have some alone time in my bedroom while I spend some training time with Jethro.
But I have been trying to make sure Truman gets some “special grumpus time” with me every day. I take him outside in the sun for obedience practice and a good long brushing, we go for walks, and I’ve been letting him sleep on the bed with me at night since Wolf’s been away. It’s tough doing this by myself, and the presence of another human — while never truly taken for granted — has taken on important new meaning around here. I am simply outnumbered by Labradors, and as overwhelming as it has sometimes been already, I am assuming this scenario is nothing compared to what military wives face every day, to say nothing of single parents. I’m exhausted.
Fortunately, some wonderful puppy raiser friends have come to my rescue on several occasions. I threw out my back, for example. With a new puppy to carry everywhere? Talk about bad timing. The concept of “it takes a village” has always been true when it comes to puppy raising, but it’s come into much sharper focus for me lately.
So the boys get along, but Jethro is still a puppy — and that brings a host of puppy behavior that older dogs typically tolerate only until the little guy is somewhere between 16 and 20 weeks old. Jethro is like a furry little remora, insisting on cleaning out Truman’s ears and nibbling on his toenails. He bites and chews on Truman’s tail, legs, face, ears, neck, tags, you name it. And sometimes Truman just needs a break. He makes the Face of Tolerance, shoots a pleading eyeball toward me and grumpuses his way toward the closed door to my bedroom in a bid for relief.
It’s coming together; this is the vehicle to bring about a bunch of much-needed lessons in patience and planning and perseverance for me, I’m sure of it. We’ll figure it out.