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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sibling Rivalry

In our family, we have one human boy child and two dog-children (one boy and one girl). As you probably already know, we refer to the dogs as Brother and Sister when talking to them or to Eddie.  The dogs, Ruby and Taters are about as different as they can be from each other.  The fact that they are border collie mixes is just about the only thing they have in common.

When I was pregnant I assumed that our baby boy would be like a lot of babies: cuddly, interested in sitting in his adoring parents' laps, etc.  Given my assumptions about his personality, I predicted that he and Ruby wouldn't like each other much--that she'd stay as far away from him as possible.  She's a total Mama's girl and hoards balls; so I assumed she'd stay away from him because he'd mean competition for my affection and she'd want to hoard her toys from his grasp.  I assumed that Taters and the baby would love each other.  Taters loves to snuggled up on the couch or in the bed and just "be" near you.  

Boy was I WRONG!

Eddie is super active and has been from day one--literally.  He never wanted to be in a carrier (Ergo, Moby, Baby Bjorn, etc), always held. And he insisted on being held outwards to see what was going on and so he could wiggle around.  And it turns out that he and Ruby are soul mates, while he and Taters avoid each other.  

I was thinking about this the other day, how similar Eddie and Sister are.  Here's what I came up with...they both:
  • Don't care much for snuggling, unless they're sick
  • Can't sit still for more than a few minutes--they are always jumping up, running off to check something, and then coming back to the table/couch/etc.
  • Are eager to please, but quick to disobey if it they think they can get away with it
  • Are quite intelligent
  • Are very noisy (Ruby barking, Eddie yelling/singing/talking loudly)
  • Are relentless when they want something.  Ruby will bother you constantly until you get her ball that is trapped behind the couch or whatever and Eddie will keep asking and asking and asking (eventually just figuring out a way to get whatever he wants himself)
  • Are ferociously jealous of other people getting Mama's affection/attention
  • Are happiest when Mama is within touching distance
  • Love to have the ball the other one has (it is a constant back and forth of Ruby taking a ball from him, Eddie taking it back or screaming for me to help)
  • Love to get in each other's faces just to pester the other
  • Are slow eaters but get pissed when you (try to) take their food away before they decide they're done
  • Love to dig holes
  • Love to be in the sun, no matter that they are getting over heated
  • Love to play in the water
Taters, on the other hand, is pretty much the complete opposite of everything on that list (except for the sun part).

Just this past weekend, Dave said he was sitting on the couch with Ruby and Eddie, watching a show.  Ruby would walk over to Eddie and position her face near his.  She'd wait until he moved a little closer so she could justify growling at him.  Eddie doesn't really sit "still" on the couch, he's always sorta moving around so it's just a matter of waiting until he got close enough to bother her.  Dave reprimanded her to "go LAY DOWN!" which is how we get to her knock it off and leave Eddie/us alone.  THEN Eddie would scooch over to her face and get juuuuuuuuuuuuuuust close enough to make her growl.  And then he did what he usually does: climbed right over her, which we all know she secretly loves.  But come on!  They are definitely siblings--perpetually bothering each other just for the fun of it.

Of course, her annoying herding tendencies were wonderful when he was smaller.  When he was learning to stand and then cruise the furniture, she'd swoop right under him when he was falling, to cushion his landing.  Once he began walking, she'd follow closely at his side in case he toppled over.  It was really sweet.  

I'm trying really hard to reinforce that Sister is a dog and dogs have different rules than human people do.  Dogs can't speak: instead they growl, bark, and wag their tails.  And that each of those things means something different and he'd better learn what they mean...lest he piss her off too much and she bite him.  I've also told him (hundreds of times) that Sister listens to Mama best so if he needs help with Sister that he shouldn't just yell at her, but he should come ask me for help.  He's finally starting to understand that concept.

We keep an eye and ear out whenever they are together because you just never know.  So far, so good: it's always been herding, not hurting.  But when she's being too overprotective of him or when we can't check on them every few minutes, we put her and Taters in our bedroom just to be on the safe side.  I'm glad Eddie at least has dog-siblings, if not human-siblings yet--because he's learning to share, communicate, and (hopefully) a little about boundaries from Ruby.  

1 comment:

steph.kelley said...

What an interesting dynamic. Your list is a very funny summary — I especially like the points about being slow eaters etc. and taking each other's ball away. xoxoxo