Friday, September 7, 2012

The Ties That Bind

As I sit down to write this, Sammi and Franki are close by my side ... the same side ... with Franki lying next to me on the couch and Sammi sitting at my left foot.

They are both calm and affectionate and look at me with sweet, submissive faces.  I stroke both of their heads and whisper against their faces, "you're such good dogs."  

I get a little slurp from each of them on my chin, then Franki turns to Sammi.
Sammi presents his face to Franki and shuts his eyes as Franki cleans his face and sniffs his ears.  Sammi just loves kisses on his face... although he hasn't always appreciated Franki.  It took some effort on my part to encourage the bond that has since formed between them.

Even after all the other dogs had accepted Franki, Sammi continued to resist her and displayed a somewhat hostile attitude toward her, despite Franki's submissive posture and attempts to engage him in play.  Sammi just didn't like her.

With six dogs living in relatively close quarters, it's very important to me that they all get along.  I needed to find a way to form a bond between Franki and Sammi. 

Taking a cue from Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan, I thought I would try putting Sammi and Franki together for a Pack activity without the other dogs.  According to Cesar, dogs are more likely to form a positive bond if they have no other choice but to engage in some kind of activity together as a Pack.  He commonly uses a Pack walk, but I wanted Sammi and Franki to spend several hours together.  

Since almost all dogs enjoy riding in vehicles with their humans, and it's something we do as families, I thought a day-trip with Sammi and Franki would be a perfect bonding activity.  Both of them were already well-behaved when riding and were always eager to go.  

So, one day in May, my parents, Sammi, Franki and I all piled into my parents' "dog mobile" to take a trip to a lumber yard for a trailer-full of mulch for my landscaping.  Round trip, we were gone for a few hours, after stopping for lunch in the car along the way and driving into another county for the mulch.  The dogs were angels.  And, even better, it worked!  After we got home, I saw the difference in how Sammi reacted to Franki immediately.  He has stopped growling at her whenever she approaches him, and they have since become buddies.  

Their bond was further cemented the first time Franki ventured to lick Sammi's face.  After that, Sammi was hooked!  They often lay down and sleep next to each other, and although Sammi isn't usually interested in playing with Franki, he tolerates her youthful energy like a slightly bossy older brother.  

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Sammi presents his face to Ripley

While we're on the topic of face kisses ... Ripley is the first dog I've known who seems to think it's her duty to clean the other dogs' wounds and clean the debris from their faces and eyes.  

Not all dogs appreciate this service, of course, but Sammi, Andie and Cookie all enjoy a good daily facial.

None more than Sammi ...

As you can see, Ripley takes her duties very seriously.

"The dogs in our lives, the dogs we come to love and who (we fervently believe) love us in return, offer more than fidelity, consolation, and companionship. They offer comedy, irony, wit, and a wealth of anecdotes, the "shaggy dog stories" and "stupid pet tricks" that are commonplace pleasures of life. 

They offer, if we are wise enough or simple enough to take it, a model for what it means to give your heart with little thought of return. Both powerfully imaginary and comfortingly real, dogs act as mirrors for our own beliefs about what would constitute a truly humane society. Perhaps it is not too late for them to teach us some new tricks."
~~Marjorie Garber

1 comment:

  1. Perfect quote and so very true. I am glad Sammi and Franki have worked things out a bit. Ripley looks beautiful as usual too. Please give them all a good head scratch from me.


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