MY SISTER CALLIOPE

callliope
Calliope, my sister

There is no sibling rivalry. My big sister Calliope and I love each other. Okay, I love her and maybe she loves me. Mostly, she ignores me.

She sleeps on the daybed, curled up like a little fawn, right on top of your good green blanket, the one with your embroidered mantra “Transcend and Hover.” She was already living here when you first brought me home. I give her space. She is much older than I am—13—and won’t get up to play with me when I sniff her face. I’m only 4.

She has stanky breath. OoooEeeee. She only has a few teeth left so she doesn’t smile a lot because she’s embarrassed and shy from rejection. You rescued her from a family with two other bossy Beardies who bullied her. There weren’t any Stop-A-Bully posters at their house. Her former family put Calliope in her crate to protect her, but she became very sick and shy. It wasn’t fair since the bully dogs got their freedom. When you offered to take her, she was afraid of everything. She’s still afraid of other dogs and barks and growls at them if she thinks there’s a slight chance they’re going to bully her. They don’t know she can’t bite.

Daddy took her to a “reactive dog” class, where he learned to distract her with a treat if she looked scared, but all she learned was to ask for treats. Now when I bring in the morning newspaper, she wants a treat too. I get a big one, and she gets a little one just for asking.

I look for her when I come home from my therapy work. She’s usually asleep on the landing. I run right up to her face and take a big whiff. You can’t go sniffing around any old dog, just the ones you know. If I step on her in my happiness to see her, she’ll unfold, put her head down and skulk off up the stairs, showing me that isn’t good little brother behavior. Yes, I know the word skulk. You taught me well. I have a very large vocabulary for a dog, even if I am hard to control.

When you groom her, she cries. I rear up like a wild horse if you hurt me, but Calliope just howls and shivers.  I stand very close to make sure you aren’t hurting her too much. After you have combed and brushed her body, legs and face, you fasten an elastic band around her top knot, the way you do with me. She gets a Chanel ribbon and wags her whole body. She loves her ribbon because when she’s wearing it, she knows people will pet her, especially Maija, her special person friend. Maija loves her unconditionally and laughs when she talks to her.

When you and Daddy take us out, Calliope waits behind you until I finish dancing. Then, she comes to you and sits in front of you so you will pet her and put on her leash. I spin around her once, barking, Me first! Me first! She is very patient. My sister. I love her.

Oliver’s advice: Don’t put victims in prison. It ruins their social skills. Another thing, keep me from jumping on my big sister. I don’t mean to hurt her, but sometimes she’s in the way when I get crazy. I count on you to protect us both.

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