Fate seems to adore Red, she chews on him continuously, he doesn't seem to mind. I was watching the two of them today and thinking about their relationship.
Since dogs are a blank slate and can't speak for themselves, we tend to project our own stories onto them. People look at the photos of Fate and Red and talk often about how much they seem to love one another. But is this love? And do dogs love one another in the way we do?
I think Fate has attached very powerfully to Red. I think Red has fully accepted her. I'm not sure how to describe it. Red is very independent dog, he is not needy in any way. He needs to work, and he needs to be near me. Those are the two things I see in him. When Fate is not with Red, she is often looking for him, and when they are reunited, she is excited.
When Red is apart from Fate, I never get the sense he is looking for her, he is content to be with me in my study, in the pasture, in the car, at the gym, doing therapy work. He is, in fact, a very self-contained animal, he is focused on his work, and then on me.
I have to be careful that Fate doesn't attach to Red more than the sheep so I make sure she gets time along with them. There is definitely something of the big brother/little sister thing going on, I can see it, although I wouldn't take it too far. But Red is not overly protective of Fate, if the sheep charge at her or butt her, Red stays out of it, he does not intervene.
I do believe he teaches her, you can almost see his willingness to share his movements and posturing with her. The teaching is indirect, passive, not active. He lets her in, she is free to take what she wants. I think I have to be careful about projection, we always put our stories and our emotions into the heads of animals, who have their own stories and their own emotions.
Clearly, these two have attached. He is very patient with her, as long as she stays away from his food. Yet I think Red lives in his own time and his own space, he has what he needs, he does not seem to be looking for more.