Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Baxter's is Better

Or so it would seem. Kirby is absolutely relentless when it comes to wanting all things that belong to Baxter. No matter how many toys and rawhide bones Kirby has to play with, he insists on trying to take away Baxter's. Even if Kirby is busy playing with a toy of his own, the second Baxter picks up a toy, he's on him, trying to pull the toy out of Baxter's mouth. And Baxter, being a "soft mouth" dog, isn't very good at holding on to things. So most of these minor scuffles end with Kirby running off with Baxter's toy and Baxter sitting there looking at me with a hang-dog expression. The only time Kirby will sit quietly and chew is when he has a toy and Baxter doesn't. Nice.

Of course, Kirby is a puppy, and puppies are pretty notorious for doing just about anything to get what they want. But I'm trying to figure out what I can do to teach Kirby some manners. I scold him and pull him off Baxter, but seconds later he's back with gusto, cheerfully yanking on Baxter's toy until he wins.

Baxter is also trying to teach Kirby some manners, to little avail. Most toys Baxter doesn't fuss too much about, but the pressed rawhide bone is another story entirely. Baxter does not give this up without a fight. So Kirby has resorted to some more creative tactics, one of which is the stealth approach...

Kirby leaves his little rawhide bone and crawls on his belly, edging closer and closer to Baxter until his nose is right under Baxter's, within a tongue's lick of the big rawhide. Once Kirby's in Baxter's peripheral vision, one can hear a very low growl. As Kirby approaches, Baxter's growl gets louder. Once the growl reaches a serious decibel level, Kirby rolls over and pretends like he's only stretching. He looks up at Baxter as if to say, "Who me? After your rawhide? Certainly not!"

Then as soon as Baxter stops for a breather, Kirby strikes like a little cobra, grabbing the bone (and sometimes Baxter's moustache) in the process. By this point Baxter's growl has developed a bear-like quality, with a hint of that Cujo-esque frothy sound. This is accompanied by a showing of teeth unlike anything I've ever seen Baxter do previously. (Honestly, for years I wondered if Baxter was capable of showing his teeth...I guess he just had no reason to.)

Of course, Baxter is all threats and no action. He may sound frightening enough to make the puppy pause for a second (and the hair stand up on the back of my neck), but then, in the midst of all the teeth and growling, Baxter lets the puppy reach right into his comparatively giant mouth and pull the rawhide out.

I'm very pleased that Baxter doesn't crush Kirby's head, as he's had many opportunities to do so. But there's also a part of me that wishes Baxter would inflict just enough fear or pain (nothing requiring stiches or bone-setting mind you), to teach Kirby that it's NOT OK to just come and take whatever you want.

Perhaps my occasional interventions are hampering the process. Perhaps Baxter knows he has to behave around me, and if I weren't around, the puppy would be learning his lessons a bit more quickly. But at this point, you can bet I'm not leaving these two alone in the same room with a rawhide for more than a minutes at a time.

No comments: