September 2010 - Family Dogs


At the end of June, Keith and I became the owners of 2 more dogs - a 10 year old female west highland terrier cross called Bonnie, and an 8 year old male miniature long haired dachshund called Max. They had both been owned and much loved by a lady who could no longer look after them. They already had a pecking order - Bonnie was ‘top dog’. They had been used to irregular walks, lots of food, no garden to speak of and were largely untrained. In our household, our 10 year old Patterdale terrier, Alfie, had been the only dog for a number of years and had got used to our sole attention.

Integration and training has been a priority. Alfie was brilliant from the start. Just so long as they did not disrupt his priorities i.e. food, treats, walks, sleeping arrangements and if they did not get more attention than he did, he was quite happy to go along with these 2 additions invading his space. We had to make sure he was fed first, and still enjoyed all the perks he was used to. There was a slight problem when it came to letting them all in the garden - they all wanted to go through the same crack before I could open the door wide. I think I am gradually getting through to them to wait until I go through first. Bonnie and Max think the garden is another ‘walk’ and love to be with me out there as I potter around. The rabbit is not quite as enamoured as they invade her space but is gradually becoming used to their presence as they are hers. There was a problem the other night when Max decided he wanted to get up on Keith’s lap. We saw the hard look develop in Alfie’s eyes and immediately got Max off before there was the third world war. Alfie has decided that Max and Bonnie can cuddle up to our legs but not on our laps! I thought there would be more of a problem with feeding times but I have allocated them all their own individual feeding areas, and believe it or not they all respect each other’s space — just so long as I am there to supervise. I just wish they would all finish at the same time. Alfie hurls his food down and is always first to finish. Bonnie steadily munchies her way through hers and finishes second. Max savours every crumb and takes what seems like hours, and often leaves the last crumb for the hovering Alfie. Max is such a creep! Walking the 3 dogs is a delight. Bonnie loves swimming so the lake at the University of East Anglia is a favourite with her but she is still mystified by the gypsy ponies at Three Score. She will get between me and the ponies just in case they are a threat! Alfie never protected me so adamantly!

Having animals is so much fun.

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