Seeing as we were a hound house long before Ellison ever came into our lives, there’s been many questions surrounding the condition of our beloved dogs and how they’re handling the transition. Decided to take some time this morning (this early early morning) to divulge. First, though, you should know a bit about the dogs before we get into their adjustment because their history is so very much a part of their adaptiveness to new situations and new members of the family.
Our first dog was Jackson “Jax” the SuperBeagle (seen ABOVE LEFT). We adopted him as a fearful, freakishly quiet and potty-trained one-year old beagle from the local SPCA. He was found roaming around on the streets of Canyon just south of here. Woman started feeding him and he just kinda started hanging around. Knowing that she couldn’t take care of him for ever, she dropped him off up in the Yellow at the shelter. Two hours later, we walk in and adopt him. He’s had his spurts of weird and eccentric behaviors. For a while, we thought he was sick and on the verge of dying because he would just stand there expressionless, barely breathing. He wouldn’t look at you. He’d dare to even go near you. He liked to eat and stand like a statue. That was his talent. As life with Jackson would go on, he’d develop a number of talents. For instance, speak, shake, dance, stay, rollover, escape, eat his own feces and exhibit annoying neediness. He’s a talented one…the talented one. He also works with kids out at the youth center. He’s built like a beagle and a labrador. We thought he was a foxhound for a while because of his sheer size, but turns out he was just tall.
No telling what happened to him as a puppy. I like to bank on some redneck tying him to a tree and chunking rocks at him to shut him up from doing what beagles do…bark. The second he wiggled from that leash, he was gone. Probably travelled through ten counties to end up in our house. He always has that look of wanderlust. Like he’s on the verge of leaving at any time. He reminds me that he spent the early part of his life on his own and has no problem going back there. He’s escaped a couple of times, but never made it far. Plus, unlike every other dimwitted nincompoop in this town, we put collars on our dogs with tags so if they got out, they wouldn’t get too far. He avoided company. He was leery of almost anyone who entered the house. If we had company, he’d go into the bedroom and sleep. It’s almost as if he hated people. He didn’t like attention. Didn’t like being the center of attention. He’s incredibly introverted. Good thing about him is he’s quiet, gentle and loyal as can be to his mother. And as cold as Jax is sometimes, he was happiest as the only dog. When we were a three-head household, Jax had rule of the roost and no one could touch him. And he was lazy as all hell. Those two reasons were why we went and got Tucker “Tux” the MakroBeagle.
We bought Tucker out of a loving home in Canadian, TX (does that make him canadian or canadianian?). He was one of close six, eight, ten, I don’t know how many puppies. His mother looked like Jax and his father was a plump, well-fed beagle. He’s legit. Tucker has never spent a day in his life without being absolutely adored. There was a little boy in his home as a puppy that affectionately called him the “fat one.” That’s when we knew we needed him. When we brought him home, Jax was terrified. He was restless. We got the “I’ll leave in a second” look all the time. He reminded us, again, that he spent the early part of his life on his own and he’d leave in a millisecond. He avoided Tucker. He was visibly annoyed with just his presence. He sighed exhaustedly. He became extremely competitive. Everything was a pursuit to outdo his brother.
…just as we planned it.
The competition between the two has been good for Jax as much as he would hate to admit it. Tucker, the fat one, thrived in the competitive situation. He loved being the younger brother. He wanted to be faster, jump higher, eat more, bark louder. Everything Tucker does seems to be deliberately to make his older brother seem inferior. He starts the fights. He’s the first to bark. He wants to be the first to catch the squirrel. He wants to be in the lead on walks. Without Jax, Tucker would be completely different. Like Jax, he’s huge. If Jax was mixed with a labrador, Tucker’s got a hippo uncle somewhere. He’s barrel-chested, his hind legs possess freakish rabbit strength and his bark can awaken every sleeping creature in the zip code. It’s like his father was drinking from the lake of the seven-eyed fish. Unlike Jax, though, Tux has a heart that bleeds for attention and love. The second day we got him, he fell into a drain (the kind that Pennywise used to hide out in) and was caught up in a Baby Jessica situation for a couple of minutes until I swept him from the well with my orangutan arms. Couple of years later, he ran upon some jagged metal in the backyard and sliced himself wide open like a fish being prepared for cooking. Took thirty-plus staples and internal sutures to put him back together again. Those traumatic experiences, it’s my belief, have made him both undeniably excitable and sometimes frustratingly sappy. He’s got a tough exterior, but dude’s a softy. If you take Jackson on a walk and not Tucker, he comes unhinged. His whine is heartbreaking. He can’t stand to be isolated. He emotes. He cries. He loves.
It would stand to reason, then, that with two dynamically different personalities, the adjustment to brotherly units to Ellison would be different. In many cases, they’re not just different, they’re completely opposite. It was advised to, before you bring the baby home, bring home from the hospital a hat or blanket that the baby was wrapped in to let the dogs smell it and pick up on the scent of the baby. It helps with their immediate adjustment to the new baby. Don’t know if it’s a good sign that when you put the small little blanky on the floor, they start tugging on opposite ends of it like it’s a toy.
Turns out, the dogs are like opposite ends of a magnet. There’s gravitation and there’s repulsion. Tucker is the gravitation. He was curious about Ellison the day we brought her home. He stays close to her. We put her in the bassinet and he lays nearby in places he’s never laid before. There’s an element of protectiveness to his behavior. Not an alarming aggressiveness, but just that he’s looking out. I definitely detect maturity in his demeanor. Tucker’s never had a job. Never had a purpose. It’s like he’s taking on the role of protector. Watchdog. His daily behavior is less playful and more alert. Slightly somber. Part of that might be the puppy finally exiting his system.
Jackson, on the other hand, has been avoiding the situation as best he can. He hides wherever he can. We put him on bed rest because of what appeared to be a bunk leg and it’s like he didn’t care that he was isolated to the utility room. He probably preferred the isolation. He’s a little jealous. He’s keen in sensing the shift in attention and is reacting much in the same way he did when we got Tucker. A little upset. The harmony he was clinging to was, again, disrupted. His adjustment has yet to even begin, really. He’d rather act like it’s temporary and there’s no adjustment necessary because Ellison will be moving away to college in a month or so. I held Ellison out in front of Jackson the other day and he turned his cheek to her and then retreated. That was the “my bags are already packed” look. Jackson doesn’t need words. He communicates quite well. I call his bluff, though. He loves Tucker and he’ll eventually love Ellison. The day will come.
Altogether, the dogs are doing well. Tucker’s maturing and Jackson’s, well, Jackson’s just being a jackass like always. I call it a harmonious living situation. Little Ellison fussed almost all day yesterday leaving me restless until last night when I crashed at 9:15 and Ellison slept five hours. That’s a new long for her. I, too, slept five hours. I’ve been up since about 2:30. And that was a good night sleep too. I feel pretty good this morning. Think I’ll take the boys out for a walk. Staying on ritual is key for the dogs. Otherwise they feel neglected and begin to descend. Last thing you want in this house is a 40% of the house wrapped up in an uprising and revolt. Especially two dogs of a breed that can’t be reasoned with.
Gonna listen to Led Zeppelin III all day today.