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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Two Months Out and Look Where We Are

It’s been about two months since Singer came to us, and I think she’s come a long way. We all have. The big thing is that I’m starting to not remember specific little things about Saylor, which depresses me. I will look at Singer on the couch and remember how Saylor used to snooze there, curled up like a hibernating bear cub, and peek open her eyes to acknowledge me if I whispered to her. But the specifics of her are getting hazy. I don’t exactly recall how she used to sound, for example. Her bark used to be low and clear until she got pneumonia, then she sounded hoarse. But Singer’s bark is definitely different than Saylor’s, it is louder and sharper sounding, sometimes ending with a low growl, depending on the circumstances. It has overlaid my memory of Saylor’s bark.

Saylor was a very vocal dog. She would whine for treats and stamp her foot impatiently if we didn’t give them to her right away. Very Scarlett O’Hara. She was irresistible. But this antic is fading. Singer has her own distinct style. She doesn’t quite  “beg” (it would seem rude to her.) But she looks with her huge waif eyes at the food, and sniffs so loudly you can hear her across the room. She makes her wishes known. And when you tell her “No!” she gives a baleful look, as if to say she’s sorry, but then she immediately turns her attention back to that wonderful pork chop just sitting there on the plate. Usually I end up pushing her backwards and telling her to “sit!” or “Go lay down!” She gives me a vapid look, as if to say, “I don’t understand what that means…sorry!” Pretty soon, I will have to get tougher on her, she’s quite the actress. I know I will have to tell her, “Hey, quit your Little Orphan Annie act, girlie, the jig is up! You’re a part of the family now, and rules apply to everyone!” Then she’ll quickly give a glance to Dakota, who will sneer at her. She’s too smart for her own good.

Dakota has always had his own set of rules. He could always jump on the table, for example (are you all horrified? I do wipe it down before meals and afterwards…) And his dishes are up high, away from Saylor initially, and now Singer. Funny, that was the thing I worried about most with Singer, that she would be snarfing down the cat food, standing on her hind legs and carefully moving the dish to her mouth like Saylor always did. But she has kept her distance from Dakota’s food. Until last night, that is.

She finally felt brave enough, or relaxed enough, or secure enough, or all three, to swipe down Dakota’s food dishes, and gobble them up while we were at our yoga class. She was quite clumsy about it--she spilled Dakota’s water all over the floor and upended the dishes. Saylor always was careful not to spill and she’d thoughtfully leave morsels in the dish for Dakota. But Singer moved in like a tornado, all memories of her loving licks apparently wiped clean. And she cleaned his dish so not a speck of food was left. I scolded her when we came back, but she looked like the kid who says, “Yeah, right, next time I’ll just not get caught!”

I decided to put up a flimsy cardboard barrier. Jeff took one look at it and said, “You really don’t expect that to keep her away, do you?”  Actually, it’s just a warning to her. I know she’s smart enough to know she’s not supposed to do that, and I want to see if she goes ahead anyway. Then it’s war time, baby! I will implement a sturdier, Irish setter proof system to keep Dakota’s food safe. And allow Singer to dream up something else that she wants…

I think this is called “battle of the wills” and every parent ends up fighting this, (or not). Let’s bring it on.

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