My friends Tom and Diana recently contacted me about the loss of their yorkie, Rocco, and their plans to acquire two new puppies. They still have Rocco's litter-sister Isabella, but because the two tiny dogs were joined at the hip as constant companions to their owners, client-greeters at Diana's fitness business and volunteer therapy dogs, Isabella is mourning her brother's absence.
Not that the littermates' relationship could have been called equal. As is often the case in the male-female dynamic of dogs, Isabella was the arrogant queen and Rocco her fawning minion. She was as bossy and independent as he was soft and sensitive, and they were inseparable.
Because Tom and Diana wanted everything to go smoothly, they called me a few days before the puppies were to arrive to find out the best way to introduce them to Isabella, only to be somewhat shocked by my response. I flatly said, "You don't."
I told them that Isabella didn't raise her paw when they had a vote on bringing a couple of obnoxious and boisterous hair-pulling brats into her life to upset her routine and peaceful existence, and she's certainly not going to buy into or understand the concept of "Surprise! Here are your two new little brothers."
And because Isabella's personality is a bit insecure, high-strung and definitely not the motherly type, she's not going to take being jumped on or cornered in a display of normal puppy exuberance lightly.
I told Tom and Diana to make no effort to introduce the three dogs, and Isabella's routine should remain exactly the same.
Since the puppies will be on a housebreaking schedule, they will be confined to a pen except for free-play and exercise periods, which will allow Isabella to move about freely and investigate their presence safely without fear of being tackled or pounced upon. When the puppies are out of their playpen, she should have an escape place and they should be watched and not allowed to harass the older dog.
Also, by not creating opportunities for competition over food, toys or the owners' attention, it will eliminate situations that could cause altercations and any resulting resentment. Once the puppies have learned some manners, start their training and know their place in the pack order, Isabella will stop seeing them as a threat and can confidently go back to her important role in life, that of reigning queen.
Sherry Davis is a dog trainer/ owner of CSI 4 K9s. Email her at csi4k9s@yahoo. com. These are her opinions, not necessarily The Californian's.