For the past ten days we’ve been dog sitting for a friend’s retired guide dog. He is 82 pounds and tall enough to countersurf with his big, Labrador nose. A gentle giant, for sure. I can walk both he and my current guide together and not fear pulling or being tripped. I also have gotten a peek of how Verona will act once she retires and has to transition her bond. She and my older rescue have been making another shift. It used to be that Nikka was the top dog, getting first dibs on the choice of her place in the truck, bed, or living room spot. We gave her the proffered treat first, fed her separately and up until a few years ago, walked both dogs alone or only tandemly with another person.
Now I have noticed some changes. The first one came when Nika finally learned to tolerate Verona next to her hooked to the same lead. Then I noticed Verona often pushed Nikka out of the way for treats, something she never did up until about a year ago. The final thing was Nikka’s refusal to play tug and Verona winning the match. Perhaps the shift in dominance is inevitable with two dogs, both the same sex and about four years apart in age. I haven’t experienced it, as my only elderly dog who lived until 14 was the lone dog in the home and the other two died so young, they didn’t make it to old age.
The most recent change is who gets the primo spot on the bed next to me. It was always Nikka. Verona slept on the dog bed beside us on the floor. Now, Verona claims the primo spot and Nikka curls up at the foot of the bed and only when Verona isn’t there. Imagine my surprise one day last week , expecting to reach out and pet Nikka and finding Verona there instead. I was so shocked that I went to make sure Nikka was okay. I suppose it’s because Nikka can’t jump up and off the bed in the dark and seeing in the dark is getting harder because Nikka is getting cataracts. I am thinking of getting a step for her and keeping on a night light so she doesn’t hurt herself.
Anyway, getting back to our house guest, we are enjoying him and it’s good for Nikka to learn to tolerate him, too, even if she is old and cranky. It’s also good for Verona, as she will make the final transition into retirement soon. I can’t help think what my new guide will be like and how this will all work out. I guess I won’t know ‘till I get there.