Deciding to bring a dog into your life is very exciting. You can get caught up in the naming and all the gear (treats, food, leashes and beds). I was thrilled about Melvin coming to live with us but each day that passed prior to his arrival brought concerns that overwhelmed me a bit. What if the dogs didn’t get along? They didn’t at first. How was I going to walk two 80+ lbs dogs? As it turned out I wouldn’t have to. How would I make Max know he was number one without ignoring Melvin? I found a way. I want to make it clear, taking on an animal should be the perfect balance of excitement and realistic hope.

The meeting with Max and Melvin went perfectly, they met outside and as the resident dog we allowed Max to enter back into the house first. Melvin did as he was supposed to, he sniffed every inch of the house twice. Max watched him from a resting position. After Melvin vetted the house, he plopped down on the floor to take a load off. The weight of his ginormous head must be so exhausting! LRR signed off and left. I sat there as happy and panicked could be.

During the introduction the dogs barely interacted. The approval was a reflection of the fact they didn’t find each other threat enough to bark, snarl or lunge. After the LRR rep left my protection mode of Max went into overload and I realized how vigilant I had to be during the next few weeks. Dogs don’t always know to walk away when tempers flare. If something happened between the two of them, Melvin could overpower Max with ease. Max was a lover, not a fighter. He had arthritis in his front legs, he’d barely be able to get up if something brought them to rumble. Melvin had no brakes, to this day he is unaware of his size so stopping quickly has never been in his skill set. I spent the first day making sure Melvin didn’t run into sweet sleeping Max on his way to the window to bark. I wanted Max to enjoy this new addition as much as possible. If Melvin landed on top of him, all bets were off.

I’d soon come to find out that Max didn’t need a strong body to be the boss of Melvin. He shined. As important, I was committed to being in control of it all. Both dogs would thrive, I would accept nothing less.

The two photos are from the first hour of Melvin’s entry into our lives.

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