It was interesting to watch Butch and Kadi while my house was full of company. The differences in their personalities were easy to see.
Kadi was tolerant. Just barely. She likes things in their correct places and takes comfort in routine, and it was obvious by her demeanor that she was a little stressed out by the disarray. Even though I’ve never seen her snap at a person in her entire 11 years, I felt nervous when the little ones played near her. She let them pet her, but she certainly wasn’t enthusiastic about it.
Butch, on the other hand, had an entirely different reaction, one that could be summed up by a single word: “PARRR-TEE.”
Once Butch learned to navigate around the extra feet, luggage, and air mattresses, he had a blast. He played so hard the first full day that he woke up in the middle of that night, tried to stand up, and screamed out in pain. I’d noticed him limping before bedtime and thought at first that he’d injured his foot. When he got up and moved around, he stopped crying and wasn't limping anymore. I couldn’t find any injury, so I concluded his old joints were stiff and sore and punishing him for exercising them too vigorously. Once I nipped his wrestling career in the bud, he was fine again.
Both dogs learned quickly that my two-year-old grandniece always traveled with a bag of chips in one hand. They followed her everywhere she went (giving me a clearer understanding of the phrase, “dogged her every step”), happy to clean up any crumbs that might fall.
Butch and Kadi also exhibited some pack behavior that kind of surprised me. They seemed to decide between themselves that the two smaller guest dogs were fine, but the large boxer was not. Inside or outside, they’d leave the poor boxer alone until she moved anywhere near me, then they’d slip into junkyard-dog behavior. Butch was just as nasty as Kadi was, snarling and barking as if he’d rip the boxer apart as soon as he figured out exactly where she was.
Often, when I sat down, both dogs lay by my chair, one beside me and one in front, their noses nearly touching at the corner. At night, instead of seeking out their separate favorite sleeping spots, they slept side by side near the foot of my bed. It made me feel good that they included me as part of their pack.
Now, if I can only keep them convinced I’m the alpha dog...
(First published at Velvet Sacks on October 29, 2008.)