Monday, August 24, 2009

Sister Act (part 1)

I was born with five brothers and sisters. They were fun to play with, and that was good. When I was 9 weeks old, I went to live with my human and became an only child and the center of attention. That was VERY good.

Making new friends at puppy obedience school was a blast, especially because I was the tallest in the group and got to be the leader. My natural herding instinct kicked in around that time and the rules of our games were simple: I corralled all the girls in a big circle and the other boys had to stay on the outside.

Eventually my human made two decisions. One was to enroll me in sheep herding class, and the second was to get another dog.

I imagined a beautiful German shepherd sister, a little younger and a little smaller so I’d be the boss. My human had other ideas. She adopted Avalon, who was 8 years old, taller, outweighed me, and wasn’t even a German shepherd but a mostly Anatolian shepherd for goodness sake!

I knew I had to assert my leadership right away, but my attempts to chase and corral her were ignored. When I stole her chew treat, she calmly took it back. When I stood my ground and nipped her ear, did she even blink? Nooo! She knocked me down, leaned on me with 100 pounds of resolute force, and took it back again. And my human gave her just as much attention as she did me! This was not fair!

After pouting for a while, I noticed that as long as I wasn’t pushy, Avalon was sort of nice. She’d had a tough, knock-about life and had valuable lessons to share. She took over one toy, a stuffed rat I was never again permitted to touch, and I learned manners. Why be possessive over one toy when I had so many? She was a serious guardian of our human and our home but an example of keen evaluation skills when I was overly aggressive. Why get all mad over nothing? Avalon became my leader, and I didn’t mind at all.

Gradually, we settled into years of cheery companionship. We walked with our human, sharing our discoveries. We went to the country where Avalon taught me how to swim in fresh water ponds. She was a good wrestler and sometimes generously let me win. Avalon even decided to join in my singing, and we howled in harmony. Really LOUD harmony: our human said every moose up in Canada could probably hear us.

One day Avalon didn’t feel well, and after that she had to go to the vet’s a lot. I worried when she stayed there overnight, but she always came home a little bit stronger. It seemed like she was sick for a long time. I was overjoyed when she felt better at last and we started to play and walk together again. I could sense that Avalon wasn’t quite the same and remembered to be gentle and kind, just like she was.

Then Avalon started feeling bad again. She went back to the vet’s and didn’t come home, but I knew she’d be back just like always. A day passed, then another, and I started to worry and look for her. I found Avalon’s stuffed rat and carried it outside, biting down to make it squeak. That would bring her on the run! I squeaked and listened and waited, but Avalon never came home. Finally I sat down and howled once, sad and alone. My best friend was gone.

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