Now, we were all caught up in the idea of another dog and the personality traits in that we forgot to check one thing. What size the new pup should be. Only on the day of pickup my eyes widened realizing that Molly is the same size (30lbs) as Nikita, but is still a puppy. Oh boy. At first, I thought I made a mistake.
But, she looked at us with her big brown crystal clear eyes – capturing our adoration immediately. As if blown in by the Westerly wind Molly seemingly flew out of her travel crate, energy endless, and a living carnation of friendly. She is akin to an unequivocally energetic, happy, playful, as if dropped from the silver screen of movie dogs such as Lassie, Benji, and Beethoven. A classic Beethoven – chewing, jumping, eating everything not bolted down, a big, big doggo.
Oh boy. Molly is the complete opposite of Nikita; polar opposites in every way – including house training; fully unabridged, by the book, for-the-long-haul house training, and chew-proofing and never-ending clean-up. Yes, having a Molly is hard work. Since puppy Molly is a puppy she could eat 10 horses. What an appetite! She ate Nikita’s stuffed toys, all the cushions, the potted lavender, her daddy’s shoes, and quite recently has taken a fondness to consume the staircase – carpet and all.
We of course, enforce pack rules at all times. Nikita has first dibs on all toys, food and treats, being the senior dog. Nikita enforces her own sister discipline by allowing Molly to follow her pretty much everywhere. At times Molly attempts to overpower Nikita with her larger body; Nikita manages very well with her agility and supremely sharp teeth. Luckily, we have traditional Chinese medicine that is effective in stopping bleeding and is tolerated in the dog food. We know better than to interfere with sibling canine rank enforcement.
In Nikita and Molly’s case, leaving territory enforcement to Nikita is essential to bring her out of her shell. We only had one case where Nikita drew a drop of blood – she exhibited remorse enough to silently weep in her corner expecting reprimand from me, until I gave her a hug. Since that time she has been careful to not bite down fully when disciplining Molly. Also, she runs to alert us if Molly is misbehaving to the degree that she cannot handle.
Sometimes Nikita observes the puppy happenings of Molly at play, cocking her head in puzzlement at the air chucking of a pebble or the gnawing sounds of a newly fallen tree branch. When Molly is done – Nikita collects Molly’s “toys” in silent confiscation – chewing and playing with them in the same way as puppy Molly… with a resultant puzzled look of “Why was that fun?”
Nikita does well to enforce her big sister status with Molly. Every night they fetch each other at bedtime and greet each other in the morning. When feeling playful, Nikita makes sure Molly gets excited enough to expend her energy with Zoomies by side peeking around a corner and effectively playing matador and bull. With the family, as long as Molly is there to buffer her fear – Nikita is able to exude confidence with asking for affection with all members of the family normally shielding herself with Molly’s body.
The biggest obstacle was walking; Nikita refused to even leave the house. After Molly arrived, with perhaps dozens of leash and harness combinations, with Molly leaping at joggers 6ft in the air (carrying Nikita and myself with her). The never ending pulling and some harness chafing. Nikita pretty much only walked to the sidewalk – did her escape artistry and sashayed to the front door. Molly had a chance to experience the art of leash jogging (well actually she pulled me into it).
I do think in some way, Molly must have told Nikita about the jogging experience as Nikita now paws the front door handle and even runs the entire block with a finishing sprint to home base every time! Conspiring canines dragged me around the block faster than I could take a breath; however it is progress. A friend said that while I was meant to find Nikita, Molly was meant to be found for Nikita.
Even though Molly is a bit of a whirlwind right now, she will be a wonderful loyal dog, with Nikita leading her way. And Nikita will become more trusting towards the rest of the family with Molly at her side.
As a dog owner – even as an owner with previous experience with rescue animals, Nikita and Molly has been quite an experience so far. No single dog rescued is ever similar to another. Any animal in need of a rescue needs their care-taker to be:
Rescue dogs had trusted human company at least once before. With that trust taken away, any animal will be hesitant to give themselves as easily again physically and emotionally. It is important not to smother a newly rescued dog with expectations of behavior that is only found in hand-reared pets that have no trauma in their lives. A traumatized animal will often abandon learned domesticated behaviors with methods of survival. Molly learned to eat everything (including the dreaded orange peel and broccoli) as she was a stray in a remote village. And Nikita would hide, making herself as small as possible to avoid danger (at one time we thought she ran away but was hiding in a space much smaller than we imagined she would fit into). With many things in life, dogs recognise strength in leadership and character. An overbearing leader can create an oppressive environment, but a balanced leader can allow room for members to assert themselves by protecting the pack. Be a good leader and your pack will trust you and return their loyalty in kind.
I hope our story was helpful to your journey with a rescue dog. I commend FKD on their dedication and organization matrix as a volunteer-run group I am very impressed and happy to support them to end the suffering of animals.
Written by Candice Ohrablo