Sunday, July 30, 2006

Our two red-headed sons and our pack

Barky asks: Are you sure we should be doing this?

Here at Bradstein Central, we've gotten a few questions about how Barky is reacting to his new little brother. While there hasn't been much direct interaction between the two red-headed brothers, there have certainly been a number of changes in Barky's life as a result of his brother's arrival.

It used to be that if we didn't get Barky fed and out the door by 7 in the morning, there would be some expressed anxiety about the delay. The expressions usually started with Barky making his presence known by weaving around our ankles while we tried to walk. These were much more effective when he was new to us and we hadn't mastered the half-step-forward-half-step-sideways-lurch-to-the-other-side-half-step-backward-skip-hop-half-step -forward form of locomotion that we're so adept at now. It looks sort of like we're trying to shake some wet toilet paper off from each foot as we walk on a broken sidewalk, having just consumed a dinner consisting of six olives and the martinis they were served in.

As I said, however, we're the drunken masters of this attempt by Barky to get our attention, so he usually had to resort to the doomsday option: maniacal squeaking. He would channel his inner Jack Russell Terrier and frantically squeak one of his (few) squeaky toys until we would finally say the magic word: "OK." Just in case this wasn't followed directly by a move to the front door, however, he would keep his head hanging over the toy, mouth open, until such time as we made progress toward exiting, including grabbing his leash, rustling some poop bags, or putting on shoes or a hat.

Now, however--when Mama and Papa often have wild nights that last until 3:30 or 4 in the morning, and which are filled with drinking (3B), barfing (3B), and blackouts (Mama or Papa in the glider-rocker, while 3B performs the second act of Riverdance on our belly while headbutting our ear)--Barky often doesn't even see the whites, or pinks, of our eyes until 8 or 9 a.m.

And we're damn sure making some coffee before we do anything like feed the dog or head outside. If we didn't, he'd be likely to be served a bowl of laundry detergent for breakfast, and whichever of us was on the other end of Barky's leash would likely be missing some vital accessory, like pants.

In the past, before our newest red-headed son arrived, this sort of dereliction of dog duty would have brought on extreme measures, such as bringing the doomsday toy onto our bed to sound the poop alarm. Now, however, Barky slumbers until we stir, and remains relatively calm until we head for the door. I'm quite sure that Barky's bladder did not expand while we were in the hospital, so I attribute this change in demeanor to his understanding that we have other tasks occupying our time.

That much has been apparent to him since we got home with this strange new type of person who we are all--Mama, Papa, and Barky--still getting to know. From the moment he arrived 3B has kept us busy throughout the day, distracting us from our primary mission while at home: attending to the hound. But Barky seems to understand that this is how it's going to be. He's sniffed around 3B a bit, licked his hands and feet a few times, but otherwise Barky lets 3B go about his business--although 3B has let loose with a few shrieks that have made Barky's tail stand straight up.

Our hound's nonchalance made it all the more touching tonight when we split up after our evening stroll as a family. We've taken to perambulating around our building and along our street in the evenings to give 3B some fresh--if oppressively hot and muggy--air, and to help Mama recover--which she's doing very nicely, thank you. We start off together, then Mama and 3B head in while Barky and I stay out longer to allow him a longer walk so that he can pick the perfect spot to lay lawn mines. Unlike his younger brother, Barky is a particular pooper; he needs just the right spot, which can take awhile to find.

Tonight, Barky and I helped Mama and 3B get back in the building, then I headed off to escort Barky to a quiet corner of the neighborhood--preferably somewhere with a good magazine to read. Barky was having none of it.

I could hardly pull his snout out of the door because he was straining so hard to follow them back into our building. I walked off a little ways, then waited for him, figuring that as soon as they went out of sight, he would lose interest and follow me along.

Oh no. Nothing short of a personal--caninal?--escort back to the safety of our condo would do.

I finally turned around and took the picture at the top of this post because I was so touched by Barky's concern. I did finally drag him away, thinking that he must be anxious to make the rounds, since it was later than usual for his evening constitutional, but he was not to be deterred, so we ended up circling for another 10 minutes, then heading in to join the rest of the pack.

I'm sure that I'll have more to report about the two redheads, but for now, it seems that relations are smooth and that a bond is forming between them.


  1. Aw, that's cute! He's being a good big brother... Glad you guys are all doing well!

  2. Anonymous9:15 AM

    You'll be amazed at how quickly the bond develops. Now, as soon as the Peanut walks into the apartment, she runs past everybody in order to give MetroDog a huge hug and a big wet kiss. The cuteness is overwhelming!

  3. Anonymous2:38 PM

    Good Dog Barky!

    Glad to hear it's a smooth transition. One less thing to worry about.

    Great post, even though I'm sure you're exhausted:-)

  4. Anonymous7:59 PM

    I had my pokey for 16 yrs and then my hubby came along... she loved him more, even though i'd been the one taking care of her, and when cookie monster came along and pokey was barly able to get around she'd plant herself next to cookie monster and not budge an inch no matter how many times cookie would pull pokeys hair... the sweetest thing i ever did see...our special friends!!!