Galen is a mellow gal. Sure, she had a rambunctious puppyhood, committing such typical puppy crimes as chewing up my favorite slippers, teething on the wooden leg of a living room end table, and persistently and dangerously nipping at my daughters’ ankles. But by about eight months old, she shed her freneticness for a far less frenzied disposition. At two, her energy reserves still run deep, and she’s excruciatingly demanding when she wants to play, but more often than not she is a calming yoga breath sprinkled with a little diva.
Then there’s Loki.
A little over one year old, Loki is excitement unbound, a pogo stick, a whirling dervish. He explodes energy from the moment he bursts out of his crate in the morning until he runs back in at night. His ears tell his story – reaching upright from his head, they are alert, electric. Galen’s speak to her character, too: They flop.
Loki is my mother’s dog, a mixed-breed rescue with a Doberman-colored coat whose most distinguishing feature — after his ears — is the Lone Ranger-like mask that wraps around his golden snout. Loki is vacationing with us this winter, ping ponging back and forth between her home and ours two weeks at a time. We’re nearing the end of his second visit, but I don’t think its conclusion can come soon enough for Galen. The diva is tiring of the young whippersnapper. For her, he’s the houseguest who overstayed his welcome.
I can see Galen’s brewing frustration. At the start of Loki’s visits, Galen’s happy to engage him. They fang fight, they play tug with the carcasses of stuffed animals that have long lost their stuffing, they race around the backyard – Loki giving chase and Galen showcasing her speed and agility. But as one day spills into the next, she becomes less enamored with his playful ways. She starts to ignore him when he nips at her back legs or nibbles on her ears to encourage another round of fang fighting. She stands her ground in the backyard when he runs at her to initiate chase, sometimes even permitting him to deliver a body blow that she simply shrugs off. Alas, Loki doesn’t know what it means to give up, so when his entreaties become just too much, Galen seeks the refuge of her crate. It is the one and only place she is completely free from him. He will stick his snout in the doorway, but he knows better than entering further.
I take Galen aside and tell her that Loki will only be with us for a few more days, and that when he’s gone she will miss his doting. She cocks her head quizzically, and looks at me. “Please speak my language,” she seems to say. “Ask me if I want a cookie.” But I know that when Loki’s gone Galen will miss him.
We’ve been through this before.
After his first two-week visit, Galen acted relieved to see him go. But she quickly found that life without a suitor had a downside. Who else was going to spend hours with her sniffing around the backyard? Who else was going to gaze at me with big brown pleading eyes and persuade me to dole out extra treats? Who else would accede to her demands to play every time she demanded?
Right now, Galen may be giving Loki the cold shoulder, but he’ll leave, and during his two-week absence she’ll start to yearn for her pogo sticked playmate. And then Loki will return, and the games will begin… until the diva decides she’s had enough.