love is a funny thing. no matter how many times you experience an emotional state that would be categorized as such, it’s different every time. it’s been said before that this is a limitation of the english language, that the french have 20-something words to express different aspects of that emotional spectrum, while we must make do with our singular syllable.
the way i love my mom is not the same as the way i love my best friend (well, any of them, really), though i’m hard pressed to decide if the difference in character is due to me loving these people for different individual qualities or if it’s just a wholly different experience. same thing when pondering over flames of the past – can any of us help comparing our current love to the ex(es), especially at first? for me, it’s not “i love you more” or “i loved him better”, but really and honestly, “i love you both differently.”
ditto for the dog.
not to equate the loss of a pet to the loss of a spouse or child, but there is of course an emptiness when what’s been a companion for a substantial portion of your life is no longer there. much like, say, moving from TX to MD and leaving behind the good ol’ buddies – new people may fill in for the same social needs, but the obviously don’t replace the others.
all of which is a very long-winded way of saying that the mental tallying of comparisons between Sheba and Xyla are inevitable. fortunately, though, dogs mind such things a whole lot less than romantic partners. i actually (also, inevitably?) called her Sheba a couple of days ago, and, horrified, promptly apologized; she prosaically failed to notice. thusfar, the tally sheet ends up like this: other than a few small traits, they are utterly dissimilar. they’re both very affectionate dogs, more than willing to gobble up attention from strangers about as much as from their own people. vacuum cleaners are obsolete objects with these little auto-roombas around. unless particularly excited about something, they’re both near-silent, and the quiet is generally broken only by one or two short barks. after that, it’s all different.
apart from the obvious physical things – my long-haired triple-coated mostly-sheltie loved prancing in the snow, while my whip-thin super short-haired whippet shivers in the frosty air without her lands’ end storm coat – there’s a lot of personality differences between these girls. Sheba, being a herding dog, was pretty much a little brainiac – basic obedience training was a snap, and if i’d worked with her more, she could have easily acquired a larger repertoire of fun tricks. Xyla, not so much, it’s her food-oriented focus that will get her to learn those basics, and it’ll take longer for them to really stick. and yes, this skinny little rail (i’m working on slowly filling her out, but with this energy, it’ll be a challenge) is most definitely a chow-hound, hoovering each meal in less than 90 seconds. Sheba picked at her food in little bits all day like cats do, and readily porked up when the neighbors (or one of my crazier roommates, sigh) overloaded her with treats. and while Sheba was certainly glad to see you after a long day at work/school, it was nothing compared to the omigodomigodomigod dancing delight Xyla routinely engages in.
after the last few years of Sheba’s long, slow twilight, i’d forgotten a lot of what it was like to have an active, young dog around. while being utterly her own self, Xyla’s reminded me of a lot of the good things about Sheba, too.