Once upon a time, Bear and I adopted Freyja (pronounced FREY-uh). The Nord happened to be there the weekend we adopted her, and he also basically named her. I’m not sure how that went down in retrospect. Maybe The Nord said something like, “One day if I get a dog I’m going to name her Freyja…” and then we decided to straight up steal the name, or if he said something like, “What about the name… Freya?” Yeah, not sure. It’s all a blur. All I know is I’m grateful that The Nord not only introduced me to Bear but also gave our dog an awesome, queen of the mountains type of name.
Years later Nara and The Nord brought home a sweet shepherd puppy and named her Frigga (pronounced FREE-guh). I assume The Nord also had a strong say in their puppy’s name, being that it’s strictly Nordic as well. It’s safe to say we did not expect our puppies to ever share the same house or rule the same backyard; nor did we think we’d run into the problem of calling our own dog by their name and having both dogs come to the call.
So how do you incorporate one alpha dog into the home of another alpha dog?
Back in March we decided to give this roommate idea a test run. Nara and The Nord visited us and brought their dog. (They have cats, too, but we planned for their cats to always stay downstairs and for our cat to stay upstairs so it wasn’t a concern.) We met at a local dog park and let the dogs get acquainted. Both of our dogs have each been the dominant dog in their play groups, so we thought it was important to meet in a neutral area to sort out who would be alpha. The dogs got along and chased each other, and then they didn’t get along and chased each other. Freyja happens to be very possessive of me, too, so it was a big “no” for Freyja when Frigga would want me to pet her. (She doesn’t even like when Bear kisses me and typically gives him a gentle growl to let him know to stop eating my face.) Freyja also had a bit of a problem sharing her water bowl with Frigga, but she got over it.
Since our roomies drove from their house to the dog park (not our house), Nara drove the car back to our place. The Nord and I followed with the dogs on the leash, letting the dogs sort out who was going to lead the walk home. We got back to the house, and the girls played in the backyard. They annoyed each other pretty easily so they couldn’t be left alone. The weekend went by, and things seemed to be alright. We expected for there to be issues since they hadn’t worked out who was going to surrender their alpha traits, but all in all, the four of us decided the girls would work out their issues and become suitable yardmates.
We sat around the fire a few of the nights they were here visiting and spent quite a bit of time working through the dog situation. It was decided that the girls would each have a separate space where they could retreat to, and they would also share a space. The upstairs belongs to Freyja while the basement belongs to Frigga. The main floor and the yard are shared space. We talked through a lot of potential situations that may arise with the girls and figured we’d work the rest out once they moved in.
It’s been an adjustment, but after almost a month of the four of us working with the two dogs, they are becoming a pack. They know their roles in their little pack, and they seem quite fond of each other. They can be left without supervision in the backyard (but we keep the windows down to listen), and they can share the main floor for a short (and usually monitored) period of time. Girls will be girls I guess, but they’re learning to love each other, and they each love having a playmate!
Pictures to come…