Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Double-Barrelled Bassets

As of a week and a half ago, we have two bassets in the house. This makes quite a change around here. Nicky, who I've talked about here before is a very quite, laid-back dog. Other than a bad garbage habit, he's about as low-maintenance a dog as can be imagined.

This is not Toby.

Nicky may bark once in a day - may, not will. If someone he doesn't know comes to the door, he'll probably bark. Other than that, no. Toby barks at the mailman, at the UPS dude, at our neighbors leaving for work, at our neighbors coming home, at the neighbors dog, at the squirrels, at people eating food and not supplying him with some. Barking is pretty much his default state. Ironically, the only time he doesn't bark is when he wants to be let in from the back yard. Then he stands at the door, completely silent, and attempts to get his wishes across via telepathy.

He's also a very nervous dog. Anything different will send him pacing and barking at best, and looking frantically for a place to hide at worst. And since he had never been further from Dad W's house than the vet until last week, pretty much everything around here is new to him.

Fortunately, as time goes on, Toby is gradually adjusting to the idea that this is his new home, and not everything is scary and dire. Some of the barking has even started to ease off as Nicky has decided he is senior dog, and is starting to enforce his standards. This is funny as heck to watch, as Nicky is also about the least dominant dog I've ever seen. However, Nicky knows full well that we don't hand out treats to barking dogs, so starting about two days ago, when Toby started barking at the dinner table, Nicky turned on him and drove him out of the dining room. Now Toby is only allowed near humans with food if Nicky deems him sufficiently quiet and meek.

With that in mind, I ponied Toby to Nicky the other day and took them both down to the school to pick up the boys. This was great fun, as half-a-dozen drivers slowed down to watch the paired bassets trotting along. Toby did pretty well up until we got to the school and he had to deal with actual children. Toby has only ever met four children in his life, and he really didn't know what to do with these small creatures - so he hid behind my legs and barked at them. The funny thing was that he was really curious about them, so if they ignored him, he would approach very cautiously, but if they looked at him, or (God forbid) tried to pat him, he would skitter back behind my legs in terror. Fortunately he shows no signs of being a fear snapper, just mashes himself harder into my legs if scared.

Based on his reactions to the house and neighbors, I think Toby may actually come to like these child-creatures, but it's going to take some time. Nicky is having a good effect on him generally, I think. It's hard for Toby to keep thinking the world is going to eat him when Nicky is so placid about everything.

Which is good, because my ears could really use the break about now.

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