Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Question of Fairness

Since adopting our second dog, Charlie, Karen and I have tried to treat both of them in a manner we believed to be fair and equal. I have been thinking a lot about that lately and now I'm not so sure we have been.

I mentioned territorial behavior in a prior post. I've observed that it seems to be much more pronounced in females. Zoe is definitely territorial. I've come to the realization that bringing a new dog into her territory must be terribly stressful to her. She had mine and Karen's attention and affection all to herself, not to mention the bed, her toys, and her food. That is, until Charlie came along.

When it's snack time the dogs usually have to obey a command before they get the
ir treat. Usually Zoe will obey right away, but with Charlie, well, he may take a moment to be his goofy self first before he follows suit. If I attempt to reward Zoe before Charlie has earned his reward Charlie will go after Zoe's treat. This generally leads to a wrestling match, but once ended in a fight. Now I wait until Charlie has obeyed, then they both get rewarded at the same time. I've come to realize that this isn't fair either. Before Charlie, Zoe got her reward immediately, as it should be. But now she must wait even though she has already complied.

Because of Charlie is so young and hasn't finished taking all his vaccinations he's still at risk of contracting Parvo. Karen had a dog that contracted Parvo as a puppy. His treatment was long, expensive, and painful for the dog. We're not taking our chances so Charlie can't go on walks or to the dog park until he's done with his shots. Thinking it would be "unfair" to take Zoe on walks while Charlie had to remain in the house I stopped walking Zoe altogether. I hadn't realized that this is really being unfair to Zoe. I'm going to figure out a way to start walking her again without it being so upsetting to Charlie (and he does whine and cry when he feels he's being left out).

Karen recently admitted that Charlie was her favorite. I don't blame her for feeling that way. Just look at him. He's an adorable little guy with a carefree spirit, a joyful exuberance you can't help smiling at. He gets into a lot of mischief, for sure, but there's not an ounce of malice in his little body. He's definitely Dennis the Menace, but not anywhere in the ballpark of being Bart Simpson. I feel a little guilty admitting this, but it's true, Charlie really is the cuter one.

It was actually a relief to hear Karen admit this because, in all honesty, Zoe is my favorite. We kind of balance out each other out. As the first dog I could ever say was "mine" she will always be special to me.

I feel badly for her, too. I've concluded that she must have been abandoned by her first owner. She was found wandering the streets of Martinez and was taken to the Martinez Animal Shelter. If she had simply been a runaway, then surely whoever owned her would have wanted to find her, and she was at the most obvious location a Martinez resident would think to look. No, she was wandering the streets because she was no longer wanted.

On the other hand, Charlie was adopted straight from the family that owned his mother and father. He had been with his mommy, his daddy,and all his siblings until the day we took him home. Charlie has never had deal with the hardship of being abandoned. In short, he's had it pretty good.

Charlie will soon be neutered. He will be getting the last of his vaccinations, and will be getting his microchip as well. At that point I'll be able to walk both of them. Hopefully, things will begin to even out.

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