Tango, yellow Labrador, is the police officer – he keeps the pup in line. He doesn't tolerate a lot of silliness from the pups. He's the one I count on to put a silly, jump-on-your-head Labrador in his place.
Lily, black Labrador, is the school marm. There will be no funny business around here, mister. Life is serious. There isn't very much time or opportunity for play, says Lily. She also keeps a pretty tight paw on the pup.
Nemo, well, he's usually contributing to the delinquincy of the pup. He's the pal, the one who's always ready for a run around the yard, a game of tug, a wrestling match. He self-handicaps so the pup is always this close to winning. We call him the baby-sitter sometimes because he does such a good job of keeping the pup occupied that he (the pup) stays out of trouble.
When Ike showed up, he gravitated toward Tango. I cringed inwardly – neither Tango nor Ike would ultimately be happy with this choice, I thought. It would irritate Tango to have to continue to tell Ike off, and Ike wouldn't enjoy being told off. But Tango's a pretty good communicator – he gets his point across very well – so I let the two of them work it out.
Well, wouldn't you know: Tango seems to not only tolerate Ike, but Ike's actually gotten Tango to play with him! This is odd for a couple of reasons. (1) Tango doesn't play a whole lot. He retrieves. Retrieving is a one-dog sport. (2) Tango simply doesn't like puppies. At the risk of anthropomorphizing here, puppies make Tango wrinkle up his face in disgust. You can see it on his face, I swear.
Somehow, some way, Ike has broken through (or maybe it's broken down) Tango's wall. And it's not just about play, either. Ike crawls into Tango's bed and snuggles up with Tango. In the past, when a puppy has invaded Tango's space, I see the wrinkly, disgusted face on Tango right before he gets up in a huff and finds a different spot to rest.
Not this time. Not with Ike. I can't explain it, but I do have fun watching this new relationship unfold.