Just recently my dogs did something that totally changed my blood pressure and awareness–in seconds! You’ve seen photos of the girls–smiling, enjoying life, whether alone or together. So, imagine my surprise when I noticed their two new chew-bones, separated by 3-4 feet, un-chewed although they’d carried them from spot-to-spot over the course of a day. And the next thing I knew the mood was about to change! As I was standing close to them, one dog was almost in the middle, (was it Ruffles?), and then all of a sudden Mae-be was snarling and trying to aggressively remove a bone from Ruffles mouth!! Yikes! I moved, but the fur was flying in such a blur that they moved almost as one creature!
Oh My Goodness (if you are texting that is OMG!!) and they were so loud that my own voice struggled to assert control over the snarls and growls!! I grabbed for Mae-be’s collar since she seemed to have the upper bite (and she IS an 80 lb Boxer) but I was unsuccessful. I thought for a split second I would lose a finger or two in this mess.
You would think Ruffles at only 30 lbs would have appreciated the opening I was trying to make–but Oooohhhh Noooo– she too was snarling and acting like if she didn’t hold on to that bone life would never be good again!!
As I got my hands away from the collar and gnashing teeth there was blood flying in big drops and smears! I was seriously worried about what it would take to quash this. I tried a favorite tool–the broom. Nope! I grabbed a yard rug and threw it over their heads and grabbed both of Mae-be’s back legs and pulled with all the might I could muster!! Still trying my own vocal commands– “OFF,” “DOWN” and “Stop IT!” plus their names and Jeepers! At least I had a hold of one!
Some part of my mind stayed with my own breath even though my heart was pumping fast. Whew! Finally, I had them apart long enough to see that there was a chance for that deep-seated desire/drive for dominance no matter what to calm down.
Ruffles had the most blood on her, so off to the wading pool! Quite frankly we all needed to cool down! A puncture wound to Ruffles’ ear and a nip on each of their necks explained the flying blood splatter and smears. Basic first aid would take care of the bites–later.
For the next hour I kept them away from ALL dog chews as well as each other. I firmly stated the basics with my body language, firm voice, as well as over and over putting my hands on both of them. Firm long strokes have been noted to calm horses, cows, and dogs. Many mammals actually. Temple Grandin has written several books on the ‘squeeze technique’ to calm fearful cattle, horses and autistic people like her.
Well, I hand fed them their dinner (dry kibble) so that I would reinforce that I was the Alpha Dog-Being, the giver and provider in this family. It was hard for me to trust them. I used long even breaths and self-talk to regulate my heart and blood pressure. Even some self-talk of calming thoughts, you know, the “This, too, shall pass!” kind.
I guess every family can have a deep misunderstanding. For a few days after the incident I still wondered if I would have to lose one or the other– sometimes there is a deep place of hurt that comes up and I wondered if it would return. But I am happy to say that they are both being kind to each other again. And this morning they were both together on the soft bench getting lots of sweet pats and small treats!
Currently Ruffles is deferring to Mae-be and that might be a smart thing. It’s best to recognize when one is outweighed by so much! It may have been the full moon, or hormones, or just the thrill of being aggressive!
Blessings to you from Beth and ‘the Girls’