Sunday, May 06, 2007

Entering Doghood

I think Kirby is becoming a dog. Oh, he still has very puppy-ish moments, and if he's anything like Baxter he always will. But there's something different about him lately. Something calmer, more thoughtful. There's a different look in his eye and it has a bit more dog wisdom to it. He's figured out the rules of the house, and while there are still negotiations as to which rules he wants to follow, he clearly knows what the rules are.

Kirby has really developed his own unique personality -- a personality that is more consistent from day to day than it was even a month ago. Puppies (at least the ones I've known) have a carefree, gonzo, experimental quality about them. They try on all sorts of different personalities (angel, hellion, perfect student, fearless hunter, racing lunatic, cuddler, frightened wild thing, vigilent guard puppy, foot-warmer), as if they are looking for the dog they will become someday. I sometimes wonder if the human role in puppy training is really just being a form of input, providing guidance that helps the puppy decide which aspects of the personality are going to stick around for good.

Continuing with that last idea, I think Kirby has decided that his world is a much happier place when he keeps us laughing, when he doesn't force us to clean up his messes, when he's the cuddly puppy more often than the racing lunatic. (Although I have to admit, the Kirby Derby laps around the house usually do keep us laughing, so those aren't going away any time soon.) In short, Kirby is choosing the dog he is going to become, with a bit of our help, and he's forming the personality he will have for the rest of his life. That's a pretty big deal.

The best part is he's becoming a very sweet little dog. Oh, he has some of the wiring of a terrier, no doubt about that, which makes him naturally more talkative, spunky and independent. But he's learning how to temper that to be a more successful member of our family pack. I think Baxter is a big influence on him in this regard. When Kirby's first instinct is to bark at something new, he looks over and sees Baxter quietly pointing and it slows him down a bit. (The only exception is "Mini-Cujo" next door -- when that little dog comes frothing at the fence, Kirby cannot (or will not) let it go without sending more of the same right back. Heaven forbid those two dogs ever actually meet with more than 1" of space to work with...)

Of course the negotiation over who is top dog in the house continues, but now that Kirby's more mature, Baxter is taking the gloves off more and not just letting Kirby get by with things. This is good. I've seen Kirby humbled by Baxter's power more than once. That doesn't stop him from trying again later, but it does give him pause.

Lately I've had a lot more relatively blissful days working quietly in my office with two dogs sleeping at my feet. While I'll always be attracted to the goofy, playful nature of puppies, I have to say it's nice to know the dog Kirby is becoming.


Rhonda said...

Isn't it amazing how even our 4 legged babies grow up too fast? I look at Gracie's puppy photos and sigh thinking about when she was a mere 3.5lb and so spastic. Now at 6.5 she's starting to act like a grumpy old woman.


Melissa said...

Hey Griff! Just checking in on you!

It seems like you just got Kirby!! Can't believe he's so big already.

Hope you're doing well...