Alert readers may have noticed that the photo of our beloved Great Pyrenees pooch Hannah has been removed from my cover page. When we lost her in June 2015, to acute leukemia, I couldn’t take her off the site for a long time. Everyone who met her knew what a special soul she was, and I couldn’t write about losing her without making it real. We should have had several more years of her mellow, calming presence. She trained us to be dog owners, and we will never forget her.
The kids and I wanted to adopt again right away, but Mr. A balked, and it was a good thing he did because otherwise P & Q would never have come into our lives. I’ll call them P & Q because we’ve given them slightly rhyming names and you’ll never keep them straight. They were part of a litter that was found starving in a field in Tennessee. Louie’s Legacy Rescue took them, fixed them up, and shipped them to New Jersey. They were taken in by their wonderful foster mother, who socialized them and taught them that they didn’t have to fight over food, that humans were safe to approach and accept love from, and that treats were the best thing in the world.
We were given P & Q but only after a lot of discussion between us, the foster mom, and the rescue, because the rescue didn’t like the idea of us taking them both. If you google ‘adopting littermates’ (which you may have done to get here, in which case, hello!) you’ll find all kinds of reasons not to do it. The biggest issue cited is that the dogs bond with each other and not with you. They will fight. They will never establish a pecking order because they are the same age. They will ignore you. Etc.
We had talked about getting two dogs because we have the space and we always thought Hannah could have used a companion. We were given P first but we had also fallen in love with Q, who was the shyest of the litter and ran from most human contact. We thought our setup here would be good for him: I am a stay-at-home mom with older kids so I have time for training. We have a big fenced-in yard that they can play in all day and where Q can learn that life is a safe place. We have had a Great Pyrenees already so we know the breed somewhat and can deal with their quirks. Pyrs, being trained to live out in the fields with their flocks, are very independent, so they don’t tend to sit at our feet all day anyway. Siblings of opposite genders usually work better than those of the same gender. We committed to getting outside trainers for them. Most importantly, we had the foster mom on our side. She felt that Q would do better with a dog he already knew, and her Pyr owner network had sent back the word that Pyr siblings tended to get along just fine.
The day P & Q met again was enough to warm the cockles of your heart, I can tell you. Not only did they recognize each other and start playing as if no time had passed at all, but P was thrilled to see her foster mother again. The deal was sealed, and we got to keep Q.
So occasionally I’ll check in here with how the two pups are working together and what we’re doing to help them settle in. Q’s shyness is a whole other set of blog posts, but being with P has helped him enormously. Through her example he is learning that being petted is a good thing, that every stranger isn’t an enemy (not that we mind his big booming barks whenever anyone approaches the house), that he can approach his own food bowl without waiting for someone else (ahem, P) to grab it, and generally that he is loved and he is safe.
The other day, when they were both supposed to be sitting for treats, Q was too excited to get one and wouldn’t stay still. After a minute of this P lifted up one paw and batted him on the shoulder, as if to say, “Hey! Quit it! I’m not getting my treats here because of you! Calm down!” And he did! Now that’s constructive sibling rivalry.
We can’t imagine our lives without the two of them, and they are certainly happier together. We feel very blessed to have been trusted with Q, especially, and I’ll keep you posted on his and their progress. But we are a Pyr family again, and we feel complete.
Kimberley Ash is a British ex-pat who has lived in and loved New Jersey for twenty years. When not writing romance, she can usually be found cleaning up after her two big white furry dogs and slightly less furry children. Her first novel, Breathe, is now available from Crimson Romance.