A Multi-Dog Household Story

Michelle Stark, author, good friend and proud bulldog Momma continues the saga of her growing family. Are two dogs better than one? If the work increases exponentially, does the fun increase as well?

Oh What We Thought We Knew With Puppy Number Two

After my husband and I married, we added another bulldog puppy to our home.  I wanted a baby, but Matt wasn’t ready, and really, as noted in my previous post, puppies and babies are a lot alike.  Plus, we’d done this the year before with Tank, so surely I could do this better now armed with recent knowledge.  Tank, despite our initial lack of puppy know-how, was a happy, friendly well-adjusted bulldog.  He loved puppies, so getting one for him as a playmate seemed like a good idea.  And really, how hard could puppy #2 be? I was ahead of the curve with all my experience. Or so I thought.

Bratty Little Sister Syndrome

So much of what I had learned with Tank was useless information for raising the new one. They were two different personalities and that brought a whole new set of challenges.  I realized too late that puppies are uniqueindividuals with their own personalities.  We registered her name with the American Kennel Club as A Lil Bit MissChivas of Bullrun – a play on the word mischievous and a well known brand of whiskey.  We call her Missy, but her registered name is dead on; she is mischievous!  Where Tank is sweet and docile, Missy is energetic obnoxiousness personified. As a puppy, she wanted to play with Tank. All. The. Time.  Was he napping? Was it bedtime? Was he trying to do his business? So what? She wanted to play.  Her idea of ‘playing’ was to climb on him and nip at his jowls or his legs or run by and snatch his toy from him. She’d stand there, toy in her mouth, and give her brother this daring look as if to say, “I’ve got your toy. Neener! Neener! Neener!”  He is the most patient big brother, tolerating her boisterous activity with all the grace of a slightly older dog.  But even the most patient being has limits.  Tank would get fed up and snap and growl at her until she’d leave him alone for a while.  She really pushed him one day and to make his point, he took her entire head into his mouth.  I am pretty sure they were not practicing a lion tamer routine. My heart did not beat again until he let go!

The Same Breed But The Similarity Ends There

Where Tank is smart and eager to please us, Missy is smart and bent on doing things her way.  She has an abundance of the typical bulldog stubborn streak and we butt heads often because of it. When she was a puppy, I could stand outside with her for 30 minutes waiting for her to potty.  Finally, I’d give in thinking she just didn’t have to and the minute we’d get inside, she’d piddle on the floor.  I really didn’t think either of us would make it through her potty training phase, but eventually she learned that outside was the only place to do her business.  It helps that as stubborn as she is, my stubbornness makes her look downright acquiescent!

Tank took to walking on a leash with no problem.  Missy is what I call ‘leash-eager.’ If I take her for a walk, I can be sure that my arm will be sore from holding on and fighting against her pulling.  She was going to be my show dog, but not if I couldn’t get her properly trained to walk on a lead around a ring.  We both failed miserably at that.  Even with the best no-pull halters, she still manages to defeat all my attempts at teaching her proper leash etiquette.

Missy is also a barker. Did a leaf just scuttle across our front porch? She must bark to let us know.  Did the washer just beep at the end of its cycle? She lets us know in case we didn’t hear the signal ourselves.  I cringe at doorbell sounds on TV. Even though our doorbell has never sounded like the typical ‘ding-dong’, she lets us know that somewhere someone’s doorbell is ringing! Now, Tank on occasion barks, but as he’s partially deaf, it’s very rare. And that’s appreciated.

In public, Tank unfortunately takes a back seat to Missy. She is eager to meet new people and has no compunction about shoving her brother out of her way. He sits patiently, knowing that eventuallyit will be his turn. And momma is sure to give him extra affection while he’s waiting.  It’s hard to say no to her and strangers find themselves 15 minutes behind in their schedules because they are giving her love.

Although a non-conformist, Missy  has a sweet side that makes up for it. She fairly dances on her hind legs, waiting for me to make it in the house at the end of the day. She stands on her hind legs to get and give welcoming kisses.  Bad days evaporate with someone so happy to see you. If I sit down, she will come put her head on my knee, seeking love.  She looks at me with those big, milk-chocolate brown eyes and I just melt.  Her minor transgressions can be forgiven with puppy kisses and that soulful look.  Tank is content to just be in the room with you. Missy needs to be in your lap and the focus of your attention.  We love Missy & Tank for all their differences.  I’m glad they are their own personalities. It keeps life amusing.

Related Posts:

What You Can Learn About Parenting By Puppy-Parenting First

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One Response to “A Multi-Dog Household Story”

  1. Sage 19. Jan, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    Like people (and babies), dogs all have different personalities. It doesn’t matter whether you adopt them at 5-weeks old, 10-weeks old or 15-months old (the ages of our last three dogs at adoption). You think you raise them the same way, but their personalities and genetic structure are what make them unique.

    You just have to love them! We do ours….

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