White Dog has been amazingly gracious to our new girl. Without protest or reminder of rank, WD has let Bella take over her fortress behind the watching chairs. From this vantage Tiny White Dog can observe family life and participate when she chooses but still has a haven to hide in or scamper to when she feels threatened. WD has been equally kind about TWD joining us on the bed for early morning greetings and short cuddles. These are White Dog's spaces and she guards ownership fiercely so these acts of sharing show a surprising understanding of Bella's timidity and are a compassionate response.
And WD isn't the only member of the White Dog Army who is "reaching out" in an effort to make the new girl more comfortable. Puff is clearly mentoring, touching noses with TWD and encouraging her to follow along as our most senior girl goes about daily life. Despite the office being gated at bedtime, Puff asked to be locked in with her sister I believe to make sure Bella did not feel alone or abandoned. They a spent time sleeping together. And Oso did the same thing the night before. He has also become a "potty buddy" and in his gentle way makes sure Bella watches and learns the important steps of signalling and appropriately voiding. YoYoMa, even with his impaired vision, is extremely careful not to run over the tiny girl. He is very sensitive to her presence and seems to afford her extra care.
Still a very new member himself, Taiko is also VERY motivated by food. He is further along in training and knows he must sit and wait for dinner and that treats must be taken softly and in turn. But he still struggles to always remember the rules and can be pushy for his turn or very vocal in his demand for his bowl. In just one week he has learned to respond to the comment, "Tai, you are frightening your sister. Stop, please!" I know he understands the connection because as he regains control, he looks directly at Bella as if to reassure her.
I am, as always fascinated by the complex social abilities of the Army and their interactive adaption and problem-solving. I wonder why it is so easy for this group of unrelated stranger dogs to create a family, yet is seemingly so difficult for humans to cooperate and meld.
In light of our near rejection when applying to adopt Bella, I look at my WDA and wonder how any foster or rescue group could predict how a pup is going to fit into a new home. A dog visiting us, for example, is treated differently than a new recruit so I must question the value of face-to-face visits. It makes me sad to think of the pups not given a chance or the time to fit in and work through the complicated issues of living in a pack...how many humans would instantly adjust to being plopped in a house full of people they did not know, with rules that are a mystery and perhaps even given a new name? With the exception of White Dog, every single one of the White Dog Army has faced that challenge and not just succeeded but thrived.
Bella does not yet completely understand why I just scooped her into my arms and kissed her head. But I hope somewhere there is a stirring that tells her she is loved and that I am so proud of her.