When our border collie Rosie died, my grey mare Lily boycotted the funeral.  She stayed in her shed, refusing to participate in the proceedings just down the slope of her paddock, and only emerged once the vet had gone and Rosie had been buried.   She appeared unsettled as she approached the grave, and then she tiptoed around it.

In the months after, I sensed that Lily missed Rosie, whose company she had enjoyed (despite Rosie’s annoying habit of playfully snapping at her bum whenever the opportunity presented itself).   She had especially loved teasing Rosie, who devoted hours of each day to waiting outside the paddock for Lily to do something.  Something exciting.  Something chaseworthy.  [read more below]

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Lily knew the score and made the most of it:  maybe I will maybe I won’t.  When she eventually obliged, Rosie’s herding instinct would go into overdrive, with Lily gleefully whizzing up and down the fence line just out of reach of poor Rosie barking and circling in frenzied pursuit on the other side.

So when our Labrador puppy Lila recently arrived (yes, that’s right…Lily and Lila), I was eager to observe the interspecies interactions.  On her first morning here, I carried Lila to the fence and called out to Lily who ambled over to meet the brown fuzzy baby in my arms.  It was a quiet moment with each creature softly sniffing.  Each curious to know the other.   Lila awestruck but not fearful.  Lily inhaled Lila’s puppy scent and gave a sigh of contentment.

Then I put Lila on the ground.  Despite being a pint-sized pup, Lila bounced around confidently…until the terrible moment when Lily invited Lila to chase her (the way Rosie always had) by going for an impressive gallop.  To Lily’s obvious disappointment, the thundering hooves sent Lila hurtling full tilt back towards the house.  Scared witless by the earth rumbling beneath her.   And prompting Lily to go easy with subsequent encounters.

It is still early days, but I can see the two girls forming a friendship.  With Lila now sometimes pleading with Lily to play.  A few inches apart, they often graze together.   (They both love their grass.)  Although I am confident Lily would never intentionally harm her, a hoof wrongly put could be catastrophic for a puppy.    So for now, they will continue to happily and safely become acquainted across the fence.

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