Bailey and Barkleah Learn To Be Pals

Bailey greeted her nephew with a passive-aggressive glance, as her tail dropped between her back legs. Just who was this little tiny pooch? He couldn’t weigh more than four pounds, and his bark produced a mere squeak.
Bailey had no privy to our plans. Barkleah had come to stay with us for the next twelve months. Our son, Jeff, had accepted a position with the U.S. State Department, and Jeff’s assignment required residence in Romania. His Toy Fox Terrier, Barkleah was moving in.
Bailey had been an only pet for seven years. She lapped up all of our attention, demanded frequent treats, and tugged on walks around the block daily. Being a beautiful, outgoing eighty-four pound puppy, she soaked up the attention and petting everywhere she went. She had never shared her toys, her Kong, or her mommy.
We witnessed Bailey’s interactions with Barkleah. She demonstrated no mothering instincts.  At first she expressed some jealousy, but more frequently she ignored little Barkleah. That is, until she discovered his value. Barkleah developed influence with those of us controlling the food, walks, and play. His requests created action from the big people, and the two comrades in arms became invincible.
At first, I missed all the cues. Around meal time, Bailey sat off to the side, resting. Barkleah jumped up on my lap, wiggled his small body, and rolled his forehead against mine. Or if I were standing, he’d raise himself up on his back legs, rest his front paws against my shin, and wag his tail as if smiling. Of course, I melted into his plan and asked, “Are you hungry?” This question resulted in Barkleah dashing off to find one of his toys, pick it up, and toss it into the air. Clearly, he was killing his prey before the meal. I was such a pushover.
One day, as I sat reading my Kindle, Barkleah proceeded to ask for dinner. I peered into his coal black eyes and said, “In a minute. I want to finish reading this page.” As I lowered my head to continue reading, I saw Barkleah glanced over towards Bailey. She raised her line of sight to meet his and stared. Barkleah quickly returned to begging for his dinner. He increased the tempo of his forehead rolling against mine, and he began to make soft guttural sounds as if desperate for food.
“Did Bailey send you over here to get me to prepare your dinner?”
When I uttered the word dinner, he jumped off my lap and raced over to sit next to Bailey. The two were working together for a common good—their own. It was if they spoke to each other without words.
Once aware of their ability to mind meld, I increased my observation. They had defined roles in our family. Barkleah was the watch dog. He knew before Baily did when a dog-walker was approaching. His long bat like ears caught sounds quickly. However, being small, Barkleah needed a partner guard-dog to impress intruders.
Tiny Barkleah attracted kids as we walked daily. But he is fearful of small children. Bailey loves kids and moves in for pets and hubs while Barkleah hides behind my legs.
Bailey’s favorite pastime was to chase squirrels. But she had grown slower as she aged, and she had developed arthritis in her hips. Barkleah raced like a bolt of lightning, treed the squirrel, and held it at bay until Bailey lumbered over to join in the bark-fest.
As you might have guessed, when our son returned from Romania, we agreed to allow Barkleah to remain in our home. However, we set up visitation rights for his daddy Jeff.

Homes with pets are full of love. Science now connects longer life and better health for those of us with pets. So, when our grandson asked us to keep his cat, Carlos for a few months, we agreed. Bill and I will live forever.  How about you?

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