Monday, August 13, 2012

Introducing a New Dog. Kelly and Brooks Update

If you're like me, you look at that cute dog you see on the street or in the park, and even looking up dogs on Petfinder, dreaming about adding "just one more" dog to your family. But then...what about your resident dog? The one you love and pamper and take to the park, and have all that time together just the two of you? Will she welcome a playmate...or be jealous forever?

We struggled with this decision, and added 11 year old golden retriever Brooks to our family 3 months ago. We wanted to help save another dog, and we thought Kelly might enjoy a playmate. The transition hasn't been completely easy. At times I thought she'd never accept another dog. But now, at last, they are becoming friends.

Originally we had to keep them separate whenever we couldn't supervise them. Kelly barked and tussled whenever we gave Brooks attention, fed him, tried to give him a toy, or whenever he tried to enter our bedroom (which is also Kelly's bedroom). Now things are peaceful and happy! Here is how long it took to make some progress:

4 weeks- We kept Brooks on his nice comfy bed in the kitchen at night, but after 4 weeks we are finally able to let him sleep on a doggy bed alongside our bed. This was a huge step, as we never wanted him to feel separated from the family.  Kelly sleeps on a doggy bed on the opposite side of the bed. (It's a small bedroom, so walking space is tight, especially if anyone has to get up in the middle of the night!)

5 weeks- Brooks and Kelly could now eat in the same room. We still have to be vigilant, and keep the food dishes apart physically, but I no longer have to feed them separated by a closed door! Kelly occasionally tries to "help" Brooks with his dinner, but she no longer feels the need to  run up barking and push him away.

6 weeks- Play with toys. Toys remain the biggest problem still. Kelly is still extremely upset for Brooks to have any toy. The only toy she doesn't mind Brooks having is a tennis ball. Which is lucky, because it's Brooks' favorite. Any other toy still needs supervision to make sure that Kelly doesn't get possessive and grab it all away. Brooks is cautious about new toys, fearing that she'll not let him have it.

8 weeks- We are finally able to leave the two dogs alone together when we go out! Before we left them, we wanted to be certain they would be able to remain peaceful together when not under supervision. What a relief when this day finally came. I still wonder what they do when we're away. Today when I was returning from an outing, I sneaked up on them and peeked in the window of the door to see where they were while we were out...and there they both were, lying right in front of the door together!

Kelly and Brooks don't play together much, and they don't snuggle much, but they are learning to become friends. When I think about how far they've come, I feel really good. They are both wonderful, sweet dogs and we're so lucky they both share our home. I know it's difficult for Kelly to share, but I feel confident that they will both accept each other more and more as time goes on. We give them both individual love and attention, and take them on walks and romps together. Life is good!

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