We have been more, seven, in the past, but never with three large dogs at the same time. Introducing Elfi to the family was a bit rowdy at first. After a while, each dog took their time getting to know her.
T.S. Eliot, the Norwich Terrier, ignored her. He ignores most dogs and people but not anything he considers edible.
Zut growled when she came towards him, but seemed to like the new, more mature female in the house, especially as time passed and his amorous instincts kicked in. But, he has to be somewhat aloof since he regards himself as a person. And, of course, he is.
Kahla advanced and retreated, not sure what to make of this familiar-looking addition. Kahla had been the center of attention, particularly of mine. Elfi had adopted her allegiance to me as soon as she stepped out of the crate at Logan Airport. Now Kahla had competition.
When Elfi arrived home, she spent some time adjusting to her novel surroundings, sniffing every corner of the fenced in yard, familiarizing herself with all the rooms in the house, approaching all people with caution polite, gentle manners. She responded immediately to all commands.
As a few days passed, dogs were still exploring one another and figuring out where he or she fit into the scheme of things, I started to doubt my purpose for adopting an older, trained dog. Why wasn’t she spending more time with Kahla outside, running and playing with the toys?
One evening, I looked Elfi in the eye as she sat next to me. “Elfi, I rescued you from a neglectful home, thinking you could help me with this vigorous, active and mischievous puppy. And you have hardly given her the time of day.” She cocked her head to the side. “You know, go chase and play with her.”
I realize this will sound anthropomorphic to most of you, but I swear Elfi knew what I was talking about. She immediately went over to Kahla who was lying on the couch, licked her face several times and then picked up the tug-of-war rope toy and took it to her. That was it. These two girls haven’t stopped playing except to rest, eat and sleep. They play and chase one another in the snow and cold. In the rain and ice and wind.
Elfi and I had formed a mutual agreement. I would feed, groom, and love her in exchange for her taking the responsibility of exercising and tiring out Kahla. As a result, Kahla has been joining in with the commands, following Elfi. But, hey, she’s still a puppy and will sit, looking at me and telling me she isn’t ready to come in when called.
Elfi has become so affectionate. I’m not sure she was accoustomed to “kissing” her person. (This is a “kissing” household.)
Kahla has now become taller than Elfi and towers above little Eliot. Zut forgets he has been neutered and tries to mount her. She flirts for a while, then tells him to “get lost”—meaning, when translated, she responds with a notable bark.
Both girls have settled into the routine of the household, even putting their heads on my husband’s knee in the evening. Elfi has eased into our family as if she has always been here. She has gained the much needed twelve pounds, her coat is soft and rich, the skin infection is gone, her eyes sparkle. She and I have both kept our agreement.