Not long after Papa passed away in March a wee "rescue" came into our lives. Nana showed up one Sunday afternoon with the neglected and unkempt little "Josie" all wrapped up in an old sweater. Two bright little button eyes peered out at me from under matted fur. As I leaned in for a closer look, it was apparent that this Yorkie mix needed more than just a bath. Her coat was covered in burrs and she smelled like an old fish bucket. I looked up to see yet another pair of pleading eyes...but Nana didn't say a word. She didn't have to.
As Nana handed off her bundle to me, Frank our Great Pyr, who had been silently surveying the goings on from the back hall, made her presence known by meandering over and giving me a poke with her nose. "Lemme see", was the message. I lowered our little visitor to the floor and the tail wagging began. Obviously no problems here. Instant acceptance. Only one hurdle left.
It took me 40 minutes to cut the burs out of fur, trim toe nails, and give Josie a bath. She accepted my handling easily, and at the risk of projecting human emotion onto an animal...I could almost sense her appreciation while I was towel drying her. My audience (Frank and Nana) watched quietly as I finished up the extreme makeover with an all over brushing.
Satisfied with my work, I steeled myself for the “final hurdle”. I gestured at Nana to follow me, and I strode confidently into the family room where my husband Dan was lying on the sofa, watching the NFL network. Without a word, I placed the now sweet smelling Josie down on his lap and stood back... waiting.
Immediately Dan’s eyebrows shot up. He looked down at the dog on his knee, and then he looked up at me. “What the… ? Oh. Oh, no… Really?” I nodded solemnly. Just then, Josie started circling; once, twice, and on the third turn she curled up on his lap with her perfectly coiffed little head facing Dan. Their eyes met. Dan looked up once more to find his mother and Frankie standing behind me. Dan is a very intelligent man….in this instance, there was no point in protesting. Josie sailed right over the final hurdle straight to the finish line.
Several months have gone by since Josie’s arrival into our family. When I think about our little rescue, I often wonder who rescued who? Josie was like a gift from heaven for Nana as she mourned the passing of her husband of 50 years. Josie is a perfect companion dog, and has travelled to Florida and back with Nana already. She is adored by the entire family, including Frank, Hannah (our part time Cairn terrier) and Pumpkinzz our ginger tabby.
There is only one small issue with Josie that causes a bit of conflict within our pack. Josie “kills” her toys. And Frank doesn’t like that... not one bit.
There is no doubt that Nana unashamedly spoils Josie. She has a leash for every season, with matching harnesses, pink chenille dog beds on each level of our house, bejeweled hair clips, fancy dog treats and toys galore. There is an endless supply of balls, stuffed animals, and squeaky plush things.
Now, keep in mind we have a five year old Great Pyrenees. Like most Pyrs, Frank is not into “fetch” type playing. If I throw a ball or a toy for her, she just looks at me like “Well, you threw it, YOU can go get it... besides, I am busy protecting the house.”
But Josie is different. Like a true Yorkshire terrier, she wants you to throw a toy for her so she can chase it down and kill it! She growls and shakes the toy vigorously… and then proceeds to rip the stuffing out of it. Nothing wrong with that right? Typical terrier behaviour. Except that Frankie doesn’t like it at all and lets Josie know it.
Once the toy aggression begins, Frank is immediately on the scene. When a toy is thrown for Josie, Frank will show up within seconds, standing protectively over the plush “victim” which always makes Josie stop dead in her tracks a few feet away and start whining softly. The dog energy hangs in the air. Frank is determined to save the toy, and Josie is determined to kill it. There is no aggression on Frank’s part, just a quiet resolve to defuse Josie’s aggressive energy and save the toy from certain death.
Nana however, is convinced that the 120 pound Frank is going to “attack” 6 pound Josie over this conflict; and Dan of course, finds the entire thing hilarious. So quite often, he will purposely grab a handful of toys and head to the living room where he then starts riling Josie up by playing tug of war. Once she is hyped up he then prepares to toss a toy down the hall so not only Nana can see, but he has a perfect view of Frank’s approach and the entire scene.
Dan starts laughing the moment he throws the first toy… off sprints Josie only to put the brakes on when Frank materializes at the end of the hall. Dan shakes the next toy, and Josie comes back and starts jumping and growling again… and whoosh… another toy down the hall landing at Frank’s feet. Josie starts off after each one, but stops a short distance from Frankie and starts to cry. Predictably, Nana comes out into the hall when Josie starts to whine, picks her poor little dog up and sets upon chastising both Dan and Frank. She struts over, picks up the toys and ends the game, much to Dan’s disappointment.
Last weekend, gentle giant Frankie put her typical “Great Pyrenees” end to the game. Dan, the instigator, got Josie happily engaged in a rough game of tug of war and then he threw the toy down the hall. Frank appeared on cue to defend the stuffed critter. Josie started her crying and just as Nana came out of the parlour, Frank gently picked up the stuffed giraffe and carried it away, down the hall and into the kitchen where I sat at the table peeling potatoes. She tenderly placed the battered stuffed giraffe in my lap and then promptly lay down beside my chair, satisfied that she had finally done her duty to protect.
Guardian dog first and foremost. You gotta love it.
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