We recently added another dog to our family. Her name is Sophie, a long-haired Chihuahua. When I first brought her home, Smokey, a gray short-haired Chihuahua, was thrilled that she was here and wanted to play immediately. Finally! A friend to run and play with!

Sophie wanted nothing to do with him. She didn’t know him, didn’t want to play, just wanted to smell the house and sit in our laps. She growled at him and even nipped at him when he came too close a few times.

Smokey seemed to feel dejected, not sure why she didn’t want him to be near her. He smelled her and jumped up at her like he does with his other doggie friends. They think he’s nice and like to play. But Sophie still did not want to have anything to do with him.

By the next morning, Sophie wasn’t as unsure about Smokey, but still was not ready to play with him. She cowered in the corner if he came too close or acted like he wanted to play with her. Gradually, as she became more familiar with our family, Sophie began to smell Smokey and to initiate playing with him.

Within a day or two, they were fast friends. Sophie cannot go potty in the yard without Smokey shoving her out of the way to potty on top of where she went. They cannot get a snack or be petted without the other one wanting to be right there in the middle of the action. They chase each other around the yard, sleep in each other’s doggie beds, steal each other’s dog bones and seem to really like each other.

Sophie is settling in to our routine. I work all day, the kids go to school and the dogs are in and out of the doggie door into the back yard and in their little section of the house during the day.

Watching the dogs get to know each other, mark their territory and display jealousy as they work out their place in the family hierarchy has reminded me a lot of what I’ve seen in blended families. Each person has to find their place. In the beginning, we often see a lot of marking of the territory, fussing about the pecking order and jealousy. Eventually (hopefully more often than not) everyone gets settled into their place and the family is able to function and thrive with the changes.

Visiting with others in blended/divorced family situations (mainly via Life in a Blender) has helped me see that there are all types of blended families. All have different dynamics. All are at different places in blending and finding their way. Many families function well, some don’t.

Some blended families have parents who interact a lot and share the parenting and raising of the children completely. Other sets of parents have very little interaction and don’t share parenting or decisions. They often practice parallel parenting, not by choice but because co-parenting doesn’t work for them. Still others are like me, single parents with very little input or participation from the ex-spouse.

It’s too bad that blended families cannot blend and learn to get along as quickly as Smokey and Sophie have done. On the other hand, I’m really glad that we don’t have to do the icky things dogs do when getting to know each other.

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