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Sibling Revelry

Dogs in the snow.

By Riley Polumbus

When the three of us (Maizy, golden retriever 13, and Max, golden retriever 9) are out I am often asked, “Are they related?” It’s a fair question, and I want to answer, “Yes.” However, that is not the answer to their inquiry. They want to know if they are from the same litter, and that answer is, no. But are they siblings? Yes, most definitely.

They live under the same roof, share toys, beds, and water bowls. They play together, eat together and often sleep together. Where one goes the other goes, including the vet. If one dog has an appointment, we all go. We are a pack, a family so yes, they are siblings.

Fun fact about Max is because he was rehomed from L.A. he had never seen snow. Maizy taught Max her favorite game. First she drops a tennis ball on top of fresh snow, then she pounces on it, and then she digs it out.

Max stood watching Maizy in action, a big grin on his face, having as much fun watching as she was digging. Then he tried and when he reached the ball, he kept going, digging around the ball. Eventually he reached the ground, and kept digging, sending chunks of dirt onto the snow.
With toys, dogs are like kids–one always wants what the other one has. I’ve learned to buy one toy at a time because they’ll both want it anyway. This turns into a game and can be entertaining (for all of us).

Max had a toy and Maizy decided she wanted it, but Max guarded it from her. So she went to the front door and stood there waiting for me to open it. I went to the door and Max jumped up, and stood next to the door too. When I opened it, he darted out, and she nonchalantly turned around, claimed the toy and laid down on her bed. Classic big sister move.

As the older sibling, Maizy takes the lead. In the early days of her adjustment to Max, I want to believe she laid down some ground rules:

Maizy: So, here’s how it’s going to work…

Max: OK, what is it? A game? A WALK? Tell me, thank you, oh wise one!

Maizy: Yeah, so, I like to get my pets in the morning. If you are in bed, I get first pets.

Max: Yeh Yeh I’m good with that. Sure, whatever you want, you’re awesome.

Maizy: Okay, thanks. You can have evenings. Say I go to bed, and she’s still up, you can get your pets then, sound good?

Max: OK, yeah, that’s AWESOME! You rock! OK, so if you go to bed, I cuddle with Riley? I love that very much! Thank you!

Maizy: Yes, that’s good, you agree. Now, when Riley comes home– this is very important– it’s a big deal, so I would like first right of refusal here, one of us will be the first to greet her when she comes home.

Max: Yeh yeh I know. Good to make sure she’s home. Super important. Needs to be recognized, feel loved. Big deal. You go first. Got it. Good, but…

Maizy: Yes?

Max: What if… I know you go first, I mean we are both waiting, and she comes, and you go then I go but what… What if you are sleeping?

Maizy: (Looks at him, says nothing.)

Max: I mean she comes and you, you don’t hear or I mean you have a good NAP and AMAZING dream and are still asleep… I can… I can…

Maizy: (Ponders, scratches herself, some licking, ponders more)

Max: (BLANK LOOK)

Maizy: OK, if I’m asleep, and she comes home, wake me, then you can run out to greet her.

Max: OK! Yes! You’re the best! I mean you’re so smart! Yes, I will be there and you next. OK!

Getting a second dog is similar to having a second child. Some things will be more difficult and other things may no longer be possible. Yet the benefits abound. Siblings keep each other company, entertained, and active. Companionship can lead to longevity, and that’s something to wag about. MSN

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