White Dog gently pawed my leg. I patted her head as I yelled at Zsofia to leave her sister alone. Then I looked down into the eyes of The Little White Dog of My Heart. "What is it?" I asked.
Before she could answer I issued a "Come!" command to the darkest White Dog and when she did not come pulled on the leash she drags to bring her to my side.
"SHE'S who I want to talk about," White Dog said. "I understand puppiness but Zsofia is torturing Puff and I think we need to figure out how to make her stop!" "It has been on our mind as well," I reassured her. "Dad and I are open to any suggestions you might have."
At nearly 17, Puff is the matriarch of the White Dog Army. In human terms she is about 90. Our former breeder turned outdoor reject is a tough fighter. She has mothered dog only knows how many litters of pups, survived Stage 3 Heartworm, lives with a collapsing trachea and bronchial scarring. But as she nears 90 human years she is facing the challenges of old age...she no longer can jump up on the chair...she sometimes has a hard time getting up from lying...she doesn't hear or see as well as she once did...she needs oxygen therapy every morning. She is awesome...still going on walks (sorter than they used to be) and enjoying car rides and suffers no overt diseases...still she is a little old lady.
Zsofia has, I think, sensed in our Magical Puff her momminess and seems to treat Puff the way very young pups treat their mommas...climbing on them...leaping on them...testing out their puppy fearlessness as they discover the world with their teeth and tongues and paws.
The others have drawn clear boundaries when the wee one gets too rambunctious or they have had enough nipping/wrestling "fun." A well timed serious growl or shove back usually deliver the "STOP!" message. A nip works for those stubborn Sibe moments. YoYoMa simply places his paw on the middle of Zsofia's back and presses her to the ground. Puff is incredibly patient with Zsofia and allows the pup to sometimes cause her to yipe in pain.
Zsofia is growing daily and at seven pounds (more since we saw Dr. Julia, I bet) the "baby" is half Puff's weight and is all sinewy muscle. So when Zsofia tackles or body blocks Puff in play she sometimes knocks my sweet senior off of her feet and then smothers her as she lies on top licking or nipping at Puff's face. We have encouraged Puff to be vocal to Zsofia and tell her to stop...but Puff is too gentle and it ends up a smack talking conversation with the Little One talking back. Puff has made a few attempts to snap and growl but then clearly feels bad when Zsofia runs to safety...so she follows to make sure that the baby has not been hurt.
We have resorted to, at times, fastening the drag-along leash to our ankle as we work to keep Zsofia from being able to reach Puff. It does not make the baby happy but it works...and when Zsofia tires herself from lunging and arguing about being temporarily restrained and falls asleep...Puff comes in to rest at her side.
White Dog tells her youngest sister how lucky she is that Puff is so patient and reminds her that she should temper her roughhousing with some kindness and cuddling...but these are difficult concepts for one so young and so full of drive to conquer the world.