White Dog and Nuka, each with different agendas, spent the day sending poor timid Puff scurrying out of the dog door to hide in the yard. I was torn whether to let the dynamic work itself out or to intervene on Puff's behalf.
White Dog felt the need at every opportunity to remind SAWD that SHE is the pack leader and that all others were expected to abide by her whim. WD expressed this by purposely being intimidating in tone and stature. Poor Puff, wide eyed, tried to make herself as small as possible, and to evade confrontation, but WD followed at her heels until the dog door slammed behind the terrified exiting little girl. I called White Dog and put her in "time out" next to me but still she continued to make threatening noises...I tried explaining Puff's weakness and illness and the fact that she is a broken girl we are trying to mend. White Dog was not in a mood to be very compassionate.
Nuka, who is settling in comfortably, is starting to investigate her position in this pack. She already knows not to push WD but finds Puff an easy target to stand in front of and bark at. Part of the bark is an invitation to play but it is also to let Puff know that AWD feels at home enough to be bossy. SAWD gets very nervous at Nuka's insistence and again heads outside.
Quinn, gentle, peaceful boy that he is, seems to be the only one who understands that Puff needs to feel safe before she can be taught "the rules." He slowly approaches Puff and nudges her nose, which she accepts. He walks away when he senses that she is feeling trapped and he goes out in the yard to check on her frequently.
When Steve got home tonight we made the decision to bring Puff out into the living space and hold her more often so that the other White Dogs see that we are granting her status and that she is not an ignored outcast. I held her until she asked to be put down (about 10 minutes) and every eye watched us closely...when I put her down she bolted outside. When she shyly stuck her nose back into the room, Steve sat on the floor and focused his attention on her as the others milled around beside him. The others didn't protest while Steve interacted and all got their own time after.
I grew up in a large family and it amazes me how much our current situation is like that experience. The dynamic is a shifting, hard to balance dance that in time, I hope, will turn us all into a happy blended family. But today was just hard.