Equal attention. Sick dog/healthy dog. Fairness. Just pondering.
I'm stuck home waiting on an email from the vet so I have some time on my hands....thought this might make for an interesting discussion.
I will admit right up front that I definitely have more of a connection to my 9 1/2 YO dog than the 2 1/2 year old one whom I did NOT want (for all the right reasons) but who has distinctly chosen me as his person in our house.
I find myself going above and beyond to try to make the young dog know that we like him, he's important, yada yada. But when I see my old guy napping, I instantly want to curl up with him on the bed or sofa or floor and snuggle and tell him how much I love him. He is not a lover type so when I get some tail wags and a deep sigh, I am in heaven.
The younger dog about turns himself inside out if I so much as look at him and I know he wants attention too, so I give him lots. I just don't necessarily feel the same about it.
It's hard to keep it "equal". My old guy knows "get your bone!" for peanut butter. Young dog looks at me blankly. Old guy knows "get your ball!" young dog things, "oh, she's going to bring me a ball!"
Old dog grew up in a house with just him and me for the most part. I talked to him a lot and I swear, he understand just about everything I say. Young dog grew up with hubby and kids and lots of confusion so he mostly just wants to cuddle up and get lots of pats and scratches. He feels like a "dog" to me. A really NICE dog, but a dog. Whereas my old guy feels a little more like a friend, roommate, kiddo, something a bit more human though I know that sounds batty.
Since my old guy has been sick, I've doted on him a lot (much to his annoyance at times) and I find myself slighting the younger dog at times. I'm less patient with him, I don't worry as much about his bladder or bowels, I don't feel badly picking up his food when he won't finish quickly because i don't want the old guy getting a hold of it during our food trial.
I have very much put the old dog's care/well being in front of young dog. And I feel guilty. The kind of guilt I felt as a little kid when I would either sleep with ALL of my stuffed animals in bed or none, just to be fair.
I don't think young dog is unhappy but his life is definitely being shaped by old dog's needs and I do feel a little guilty about that. I have priorities and I think of young dog as one who can deal with whatever.
I was the same way with my (now) 22 YO mare. When I had an old man and a young horse and her in the middle, I always thought "she can deal, they need more right now." Now that she's the old lady, she takes priority.
Rambling. But does anyone else feel the same pull to be fair and equitable and then feel guilty because you just can't be fair and equitable all the time?
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
Interesting topic. I have a needy older female that I love to pieces - she is very interactive, smart, follow you around sort. Also had a middle age dog, he was more of a loner, glad you were all there, but not often necessary to interact.
I found myself really working at interacting w/ him because it was so easy not to - he didn't care. (sort of the opposite of your situation) But I loved him in a different way in spite of his lack of "neediness". I often found myself measuring the interactions w/ the two - well I petted one, better do the other. Took one in the car; better take the other too or somewhere else later.
The conclusion I've reached was that neither dog got short changed in their minds, or even in reality. I was probably harder on myself that was necessary, and so are you.
We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........
Oh, honey, you are tender-hearted and empathetic-- first doing justice to stuffed animals and now worried about fairness vs. your feelings with other animals later on.
A couple of suggestions:
First, take a breath and know that if your animals don't seem to be suffering or "keeping score," about who gets more or less, then you don't need to be either.
Second, it may help you get over your thinking about one dog as "meh" and the other as your soul-mate if you try relating to each of them on his own terms. So Old Buddy gets one kind of attention from you, and Young Sprout gets another kind, the kind he likes.
Each animal will like it. Also, I suspect that you will learn to like each animal for who he is by meeting him on his terms, too. Let each dog teach you how to enjoy him and feel that you can love differently without guilt.