Ah, Youth

Wigeon is here for another visit. She's nearly a year old now. She stayed with us Labor Day weekend, and has visited on occasion since she came to live with my friends Mick and Anita at age three months.

She's a German Springer/Lab mix, about 45 lbs, or half the size and weight of the girls. Adorable. And oh my, what a cuddler. She sleeps on my bed at night, and she knows how to snuggle next to my arm, shoulder, or neck, fitting perfectly. Sometimes she'll stretch her head out and rest it on my check, or ear, and quietly yet contentedly sigh. Her snuggling is so different that what I'm used to, living with aloof Malamutes who want to be adored, but on their terms. The human comes to them, not the other way around. Wigeon is all about getting as much loving as she can, shamelessly.

The girls like her. Maia admires her energy and enthusiasm, but mostly just watches from a safe distance, discouraging Wigeon's submissive muzzle licking with the occasional showing of her newly-cleaned canines.

Meadow wants to play. During the Labor Day visit, she and Wigeon chased each other all over the yard. But now the yard is full of snow. That's not stopping Wigeon, who jumps and burrows and digs in the snow banks, tossing icicles around so that she has to dig to find them, doing everything she can to entice Meadow to play along. Meadow really wants to, but is lame, having recently tweaked her left knee. I'm doing my best to keep her from running. Or jumping. She keeps re-tweaking her knee; it doesn't take much. It has been very hard - on her, and me.

It's so unfair - letting youth and enthusiasm win the day. Were Meadow's knee healthy, she'd be giving Wigeon a real run for her money. And her icicles.

Meadow has an interesting way of playing with Wigeon.When Wigeon approaches for some of the submissive muzzle licking, Meadow softly growls and curls her lips, but doesn't otherwise retreat or move. And Wigeon keeps licking. At first I thought Meadow was bothered by Wigeon, and Wigeon a clueless puppy, but Wigeon knows better - she persists until Meadow, tail wagging, lifts a huge paw and gently reaches out toward Wigeon, or starts moving as if to chase. All the growling is really just a prelude to playing. Wigeon teases Meadow with an icicle or ball in her mouth; as soon as Meadow approaches, eyes focused on the prize, Wigeon obligingly drops it and dances around, awaiting the next opportunity to steal it from Meadow. Back and forth they go.

Wigeon quickly realized that Meadow is all bluster with those gentle growls, and of the two big dogs, the more willing to play. Their play styles are very different. Wigeon tries to use her paws to bat about the head, which the girls hate; the girls would rather chomp on necks and wrestle to the ground. Still, Wigeon and Meadow have figured out how to compromise on their play styles and create one that works for them both. They keep me laughing.

The bottom photo is Wigeon. She's always in motion, a blur. I took many photos, trying to get some of just her, but she refused to sit still for a closeup!