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The Social Butterfly


Butterfly at Grandma’s colorful feet


            When Butterfly first came home from the shelter she didn’t make eye contact with me or Mom, and I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to bond with us. They told us not to expect too much from her after spending her whole eight years in a puppy mill. She was afraid of being picked up or petted, but she licked my hand to say hello, so we started there.


Butterfly’s tongue

She was hyper vigilant even in sleep, curling up in a ball, waking at any noise. The first time she was able to sleep on her side, with her legs stretched out and her belly exposed, I knew what a triumph that was. A few weeks later, she started to do a little move where she twisted her head to expose her neck and chest for scratching. And then, just once, she rolled entirely onto her back.

But she has been a social butterfly with other dogs from the very beginning, especially in contrast to Cricket. Butterfly will walk up to any dog, big or small, yappy or shy. She doesn’t let Cricket’s fear or standoffishness deter her. The other day we took the girls out for a long walk around the neighborhood. We went to the left instead of the right this time and met a male dachshund and his human mother. Cricket kept her distance, because she usually does. But Butterfly was drawn straight to him. She sniffed his nose. Then she sniffed his butt. He peed obsessively against the telephone pole on his lawn.

Butterfly clearly liked him, but whenever he tried to sniff her butt, she hopped away like a good southern belle, exclaiming, “well, I never…” But she didn’t want to leave. When we finally convinced Butterfly to leave, she was in a great mood. Her hips twitched from side to side, and her nose and tail were up in the air.


The girls get all tangled with their friend Bella

            Cricket is not a social butterfly. When we’re outside and strangers walk by, Cricket automatically barks her head off. She needs to tell them that this is her neighborhood, her street, her sidewalk, and they have no business near by. Butterfly just stands there and studies them. She isn’t upset by Cricket’s barking. She almost doesn’t seem to notice it. She just seems curious, and like a scientist, she is taking time to patiently examine the evidence.

But in the house, Butterfly barks. She especially likes to bark at the doggy in the mirror. She’ll be walking around in my room, surveying the territory, and then look to her left and see another little white dog. The mirror on the closet is full length so she can see herself down to the toes, and she barks and hops and gets into play pose as if she really believes that another dog has come into the room to challenge her.

Butterfly’s biggest challenge is to teach Cricket how to be her friend. It is an uphill battle, with a lot of grumbling and suspicion and hiding under beds and hoarding treats. But right now, Butterfly is napping only inches away from Cricket on the bed. They are getting closer every day, whether Cricket likes it or not.


Blurry but happy. At least Butterfly is.

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

22 responses »

  1. Tried to like you post and got told the page was non-existent.

  2. I think it’s going well. Remember that it’s a big change for Cricket too. A big change for both.

  3. I’m sure they will be friends… to share the bed with someone is the first step :o)

  4. I wish we three could be pals! Cricket’s wisdom, Butterfly’s thoughtfulness and my street smarts could change the world! 🙂

  5. Such a happy story! Giving Butterfly a happy home after all she has been through, oh my, such a loving, loving experience. It must feel wonderful to all involved! 🙂

  6. We got Kaci Oct 13. She was in a pen with a lot of big dogs in a kill shelter. Then a foster home with a lot of different dogs and a constantly changing cast of characters. She’s just starting to open up and enjoy life but is still concerned in the back of her mind that she’ll be going somewhere else. Also she worries when someone leaves (like when I go to the vet for my once every 25 day shot). She worries that I (especially) won’t come back. It takes time.

    • Butterfly is standing in the hall staring at me from afar, right now. She misses me when I’m gone, but she hasn’t had to miss Cricket yet, and I think that does help her feel secure. I think she stands apart sometimes, to protect herself. But I’m working at being patient.

  7. Rachel – Has Cricket ever shown signs of resentment over Butterfly’s presence? How does mealtime work. Has either one ever encroached on the other’s food? Do they eat the same things? Do they ever fight over a toy? Perhaps I missed these behavioral practices from your earlier blogs. It must be fascinating to watch Butterfly’s reaction to learning the world of freedom and loving attention. Are you up for teaching her tricks,even if they are as simple as giving you her paw when you say hello. she certainly sounds smart enough to learn. Thank you for placing me on your list. I look forward to further Adventures With Butterfly. Ellen

    • Hi Ellen!

      We tried to give them separate food and water bowls, all four bowls lined up in a row, big for cricket and small for Butterfly, but they decided to just share. I think they each worried that the other one was getting the special food.

      I’ve been trying to teach Butterfly how to sit for treats, but she’s not quite ready yet. She prefers to learn her tricks from Cricket, like jumping up for her leash, turning in circles when I try to clip the leash onto her collar, and nipping my pants when I don’t take her out as fast as she’d like. Cricket is a very good teacher, she just has some irreverent ideas of what’s important to learn.

      Good to hear from you!

  8. lovely story. Lucky dog (s).

    • Thank you. I don’t think Cricket is feeling especially lucky just now. But she never does. She thinks she’s being neglected because we don’t freshly grate the Parmesan cheese for her.

  9. I love hearing about these guys and their dynamics…thanks for sharing

  10. You paint excellent pictures, I could see it all taking place.
    Our first dog Honey had to contend with a new puppy that was thrust upon her. She wasn’t too impressed either but time took care of it. If I knew then what I know now I would have handled the whole thing differently, but that’s life, isn’t it? Recently my son’s girlfriend moved in with us while they look for a house so I had a chance to put into practise all the things I have learned. It was lucky that we had been on this steep learning curve as adding a third dog to our pack has proved to be a challenge. The story is way too long to relate here but it has worked out quite well, but it took a lot of effort and patience to get to the point that the pack regained it’s stability. I’m going to miss this little one when she has to move but it has been fun for all of us to have her here.

    • Butterfly would love to have three or four more dogs in the house, and so would I, but Cricket is just barely getting used to sharing with one. I think her learning curve has been the steepest, honestly, but she’s gotten to the point where she volunteers to come upstairs and sleep a few inches away from Butterfly. For her, that’s big. Actual cuddling will take a bit more time.


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