Thursday, November 16, 2006

Rawhide and Knowing When to Back-off

Our dog-free friends who came to dinner brought a nice bottle of wine and rawhide bones for Baxter and Kirby (the wine was for us). Baxter got a huge one and Kirby got a puppy-sized one. They were both thrilled. I think it was Kirby's first experience with rawhide (aka Nirvana). Baxter doesn't get rawhide very often because he has this nasty habit of chomping through it very fast and swallowing chunks -- a big no-no. He's never had any digestive repercussions, but I have had to fish a half-chewed chunk-o-rawhide out of his choking throat before (not at all fun). Needless to say, all rawhide chewing in our house is well supervised. And, in this case, photographed.

Baxter and Kirby have been developing some interesting habits when it comes to sharing. Basically, Baxter pickes up a toy, Kirby runs over, jumps up, knocks the toy out of Baxter's mouth (Bax has a soft mouth and has never been very good at hanging on to things) and runs away with it. Bax just stands there with this "oh dear" expression on his face. He doesn't even try to get the toy back. This is the way it happens 99.9% of the time.

Rawhide is different. I don't know if Bax knew Kirby had his own rawhide or if it's just too special to relinquish, but upon receiving his rawhide bone, Baxter immediately went into lock-down mode. Kirby, who saw right away that Baxter's rawhide was bigger than his and tried to take it away (puppies, where are the manners?) received a snarl that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Kirby realized that this time it wasn't a play growl. This was serious business, this rawhide-chewing. Kirby sheepishly went back to his own puppy-sized rawhide and gnawed away with his little needle teeth. Every time we give them their bones to chew on, the same events occur, with the same results.

Sometimes the puppy seems relentless, he jumps at Bax, pulls his ears, bites his chest with those tiny teeth and climbs all over him whenever he can. Bax gets fed-up, growls, rolls the puppy over and Kirby pops back up like a cork and does it again. I was beginning to think either Bax's response was too wimpy or the puppy is still just too young and clueless to get it when he's in the danger zone. The rawhide incidents just proved to me that a) Baxter can be very un-wimpy when he wants to and b) Kirby knows when Baxter means business.

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