Thursday, 16 May 2013

Thrice as nice... Keeping calm and staying chilled.

Saskia has now been part of our family for over a month, and in all honesty it’s flown by. Saskia now has her favourite spots in the garden, and if she’s not there can be found glued to Barrys side. We’ve learned a hell of a lot, about this new dog, about Barry & Mars and as always a little more about ourselves.

We had a couple of days of settling in, with a little bit of scent marking from Saskia, which after toilet training Barry this was nothing, and lots of playing whilst the dogs sounded each other out.

Barry & Saskia catching some rays
I wouldn’t like to mislead anyone by saying that adding another dog to our pack has been totally plain sailing. It’s required a degree of commitment.

Because Saskia came to us from the pound we had no idea if she’s been spayed yet, so we’ve had to keep her and Mars under permanent supervision… we don’t want any mini Husky Setters running around. This means if I want to go to the loo they have to be separated, if the door bell goes, they have to be separated, if I go to put a load of washing on, they have to be separated… you get the picture.

Then there’s Saskia and Barry, they've had the odd little scrap so yet another reason they can’t be left unsupervised. Apparently dogs not getting on is a real sticking point for a lot of fosterers. Seeing any dogs scrap isn’t going to be nice, but to expect dogs to get on immediately is unrealistic. We’ve learned very quickly how to read their body language, so we know if there is any tension building. It’s been amazing how quickly we’ve learnt spot triggers and I feel we’ve developed a better understanding of Barry & Mars along the way. 

'You have our attention, we'll have those treats now.'
Indroducing Saskia to our pack meant we knew in advance we'd have to brush up on our pack leadership stuff. We practice much of what we've learned from reading and our visits from Sue our trainer, but to be honest we sometimes let things slide. We had been warned in advance that adding a third dog could make the dynamic trickier. We have known all this time that we would have to step up to the plate as leaders to avoid chaos. Having two dogs we knew that if you give 'em inch they'll take a mile, but having a third, give 'em an inch and they'll take that mile and just keep going.

'Cuddle me Mars Bar!'
When we indroduced Mars and Barry they immediately found their place and have had hardly a cross word between them, but I knew that to ask for this again would be asking too much. You can count the number of times Saskia and Barry have fallen out on one hand, but it doesn’t pay to take your eye off the ball. We’ve found that Saskia and Barry need to be fed  in separate rooms and their bowls lifted and out of the way before they come back in  together. Oh yes, and I can’t sprinkle chicken manure pellets anymore, as far as Saskia and Barry are concerned, this is food. Delightful stuff.

 Otherwise though I think Barry will really miss Saskia they’ve developed a bond, and will spend much of their day within spitting distance of each other. Mars will spend most of the summer chasing bees, butterlfies and shadows, so he’s happy to let them get on with it…

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