Milo came from Florenceville-Bristol, New Brunswick. If that sounds familiar (as it did to me) it’s also the home of McCain french fries. It’s a truly beautiful part of the world, farmland and river valley, somewhat enhanced by the fact that you can smell potatoes long before you hit town limits. Looking on the map, I thought it was just past Fredericton. Well, just past and then some. We knew the drive would be long.
We debated back and forth about taking Hunter and Gryphon along. Finally I reasoned that they’d likely prefer to go for the ride than to be left home alone all day. We loaded their beds in the car and helped them up into the back. With a pack of Twizzlers in the glove box (my road trip must-have), freshly-brewed coffee, and a doggie travel kit consisting of treats, water, food, toys, and a collar for the new guy, we hit the road.
We stopped several times along the way for pee breaks (us and the dogs), as well as snacks, lunch, and gas. Finally, after 5 and a half hours in the car, we reached our destination.
As we pulled into the driveway, we began to question the wisdom of bringing the dogs. I was especially worried about Hunter, who has aggressive tendencies towards dogs who show interest in Gryphon. I planned to keep the newbie on my lap for the entire drive home.
We introduced the dogs in the car and fortunately everyone seemed fairly unperturbed by the whole situation. I hoped it wasn’t just a function of the confined space, but figured that exercise the previous day combined with a long and humid road trip had likely knocked my big guys out. I settled into the passenger seat with Milo on my lap and we headed back to Nova Scotia.
It wasn’t long before I realized that the puppy on my lap idea wasn’t going to work. Milo was squirmier than a bag of itchy snakes. After several attempts to get him to lie still I finally gave up and let him worm his way to the back where Gryphon and Hunter were lying quietly. I watched carefully for signs of aggression or displeasure. All was quiet until Milo grabbed one of Hunter’s ears. Hunter let out a single loud bark and then put his head back on the bed, that was all. In no time, Milo was snuggled up next to him and both of them were out cold.
Day two. I thought things might change this morning when I un-crated Milo and re-introduced him after the night. Again, nothing. I went to work slightly concerned with how well things were going. It just didn’t seem right. I waited all day for Troy to call and tell me that unpleasantries occurred. I got one report of a pee on the floor, but otherwise nothing.
Tonight I came home and let Milo out of his crate about 2 hours after Troy had left for work. This time he was wound up and ran straight for Hunter and Gryphon, jumping at their faces, nipping at their ears, tearing around in a burst of puppy foolishness. I though for sure all hell would break loose. Hunter groaned and lay down. Gryphon walked away, trying to avoid the insanity. As I heated my dinner I wondered how long the tolerance would last. Surely someone was going to snap eventually.
I carried my meal upstairs to eat sitting in front of my computer as I so often do on my nights alone. Three wagging tails followed, and the two wiser ones situated themselves in such a way that they wouldn’t be seen as begging, but also wouldn’t miss anything that happened to hit the floor. As I forked food into my mouth and browsed one email after another, Milo clamped down on my toe. It didn’t really hurt, but it prompted an involuntary hand gesture that catapulted carrots a few feet away within inches of Gryphon’s feet.
Six canine eyes fixed on those glossy disks and I prepared to break up a fight as I watched them all go for the gold at once. Milo got one piece and Gryphon and Hunter vacuumed the rest.I was fixated on three tongues licking the floor. The carrots had come and gone without a challenge. This, I realized, was the real test. There are few better ways to cement a friendship than sharing a meal – even if the meal they were sharing was mine!
Day one is almost done and I feel like we’ve passed some major hurdles. Milo settled into his crate last night and slept through the entire thing. He’s toured the yard with Troy and encountered cats, chickens, goats and llamas. And now, he’s become part of the pack for real – once they’ve shared munchies there’s no going back.
I’d forgotten how much attention and work a new puppy requires, but I’d also forgotten how rewarding the little achievements are. Now that I know the dogs have relaxed together I can start to relax too, and so the real fun begins.