*Published 6/29/23; written in 2016

Each Newf that comes to be a part of our lives has a different personality. There are some
similarities, particularly between members with similar lines, but there are also differences in ways that make them irrefutably unique. I love their uniqueness!

Banner and Jade are about as different in personality as two Newfs can be, and they are not closely related. In general, Jade is soft and quiet, and Banner is loud and outgoing. All puppies must grow up, and Banner has been growing up noticeably in the past couple of months. She is headed on her course toward becoming 3 years old, and as girls seem to mature faster than boys, this is a significant coming-of-age point for a young Newfoundland girl. She shows some remarkable talents, although she has not yet fully outgrown some of her puppy thinking. Jade has learned how to deal with Banner, but I think she will need to re-learn as Banner matures. Banner has caused serious injury to Jade’s back, by propelling herself at the speed of electrons through supercooled copper directly into Jade, broadside. When Banner was a puppy, Jade was optimistic and excited. She loves to play, and finally she had a playmate, like her litter sister! But after Banner grew into size and reveled in her Newfound capacities, Jade learned to treat her with caution. Although Jade exceeds Banner by 50 lbs. in size, she would hide behind the van door when the dogs were let out of the van, and she will still freeze, motionless, if she spots Banner loose in the yard while she is out. We must walk beside her to escort her to safety (cabin). So, the play encounters have been limited to toys indoors, supervised but encouraged.

Banner wanted to cuddle with her sister, and she would seek out Jade and lie next to her,
spooning. She would dive at times, shoulder-down, into Jade’s softness, and she would clamber into her with fake clumsiness while Jade was standing. Through these experiences, the bond has not grown, but more division has developed, with firm wariness on Jade’s part. Jade is not a disciplinarian, and all of her soft efforts to get her point across have only exacerbated Banner’s behaviors, as Banner sees those as a challenge. So she has quit trying to engage Banner, whose reactions cannot be safely anticipated. Banner doesn’t understand why Jade doesn’t want to engage with her. Now, it seems that some turnabout may be fair play. As the girls go to bed, they lie in one spot and another, looking for “The Spot” where they can sleep most comfortably. (In the comparison of Newf vs. Sheldon Cooper, Big Bang Theory, Sheldon is not the original.) The newest development is that Jade decided to invade Banner’s sleeping quarters, to which Banner made a verbal complaint. Sisters!

There has never been a time when I’ve brought a puppy home that the new guy hasn’t gone through the process of jealousy to maturation, with negative consequences to some degree on the adult. However, the dust usually settles, and it seems to be settling now. I’ve always suspected that Banner would be the alpha between the two, but something odd has happened that has left Jade just as confused as I am. A “mean machine” (loud large tractor pulling some large equipment) moved down the road past the house about a week ago while Jade and Banner were in the yard. Banner shot back to the cabin with her tail between her legs! This is my little girl who uses dirty words when she expresses her discontent, whose response has been typically confrontational – not even a remote indication of being timid. Jade stood in the direction of the menace and “barked it away”, like she did a snow-plough one winter when she was young. She looked at Banner puzzled, barked some more, and looked back at Banner again, perplexed about her quirky, unexpected response. A few days afterward, there was a loud, sharp sound, somewhere between gunfire and a small explosion, and Banner shot back to the cabin again. Jade didn’t appreciate the sound, but again, she was more confused about Banner’s reaction than she was concerned about the sound. Maybe Banner has been watching too much television, or having bad dreams. Or maybe she read some strange pee-mail*. There had been a loose male dog passing by last week. In any case, it seems more likely that Jade is our alpha. It’s always easy to overlook the influence of the strong, calm, quiet adult, but it hasn’t been that long since Jade has assumed the responsibilities of adulthood.

It seems that our little girl is growing up, though, and that her awareness is broadening. She is much better about being engaged with me in any activity, and I expect that now she and Jade can begin to work on a better sister-hood. She is learning every day more and more, and one of her newest learnings is this: if you get in the van, be sure to take care of business first. Apparently she got in once recently during a long ride when she really needed to go. Now, on her own, she looks at me with a funny expression when I tell her to get in, walks a few steps away and relieves herself, then gets into the van. I would much rather have confidence in good judgment than have regret from a mechanically obedient Newf!

*Pee-mail was a term that I first heard around 20+ years ago by Pat (Leclair?), and
a perfect fit it is.

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