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Entries in dogs (6)


Sadness then Relief at Chez Dana and John



We've had big dog problems here in the land of dog lovers.  There has been escalating aggression from Taffy against Rico.  Taffy had "issues" with Rico from the day we rescused  Rico and brought him home.  You can read about their shaky start in a journal entry from 2009 titled De'tente.  

Over the years, Taffy has  asserted her dominance at varied times.  A dog fight is a scary thing, lots of growling and teeth  flashing and "screaming."   There's generally a loss of blood from a nip on the paw and often some blood from John who sometimes gets nipped in the process of breaking up the fight.  While all this is going on, Poncho runs around the other two dogs like a whirling dervish, franticly barking  his high pitched Chihuahua bark. During the past six months or so, fighting has increased.   Always Taffy and Rico, never ever Poncho who arrived here eighteen months ago at  the age of seven months.  When daughter, Stacie, moved back home, he was part o fthe package.  Taffy loves Poncho and so does Rico.  They play, but never three  together.  Taffy and Poncho play.  Rico and Poncho play, that's it. When Taffy and Poncho play, Rico hides.  

When our friend, Emma, arrived here for a visit last month, things went crazy.  The last six days of her visit, Taffy viciously attacked Rico five times.  We were exhausted and frustrated, not to mention so worried  about poor Rico who was afraid to move and clung to me.  There was a vicious attack last Wednesday during which John was severely bitten in the hand.  Taffy is twelve and we considered if it was age related.  We know she is healthy because she just had her yearly vet check.  We discussed options such  as muzzling Taffy or seeing the vet about doggie tranquilizer  or the very worst thought eve,r that something was so wrong, a brain tumor or something, having  to euthanize her, dreading the thought.  I couldn't eat or sleep.

 Before we called the vet, I decided to call Taffy's breeder.  We bought Taffy way back in 2002 when  we lived on the other side of the state.  We got her the week before we got married, my wedding gift to John.  There are only three breeders of Welsh Terriers in  Florida.  They are not a common breed, fewer than 1500 are registered yearly by the AKC.  The three Florida breeders work together to control the market and to control the quality of the breeding.  So, even though Taffy came to us from Vero Beach, she was born here in Sarasota to the west coast breeder,  I knew all of this and called Karyn of Sea Plume Welsh Terriers.  When I told her who I was, gave her Taffy's number, she knew exactly which dog she was. We got her at the age of six months because she was a show prospect until her bottom adult teeth came in crooked. 

I explained the history of Taffy, the addition of Rico and then Poncho recently and how awful things had become. A quality breeder will always, no matter how many years go by, stand behind their pups.  Karyn said she would talk to her partner and call me back. About an hour later she called and said they wanted to send a  behaviorist to my house for an assessment. I was relieved and asked Karyn how much the behaviorist charges.  She said, "We breed for health and temperment.  We stand behind our dogs.  We will pay the behaviorist for the assessment and we'll go from there.  This woman shows Airdales and Welshies and she'll figure out what's going on.  Let's give it a try."

Two hours later, a woman named Pat arrived.  She took a brief synopsis of the problem from us and then told us to go about our day and pretend she wasn't here.  She sat  on the sofa, occasionally chatted to us, ignored the dogs mostly.  She did hold Taffy, examine  her eyes, check her hearing, check her submissiveness level etc.. She picked up Rico and  Poncho briefly, took the three dogs out to the yard for a romp. After two and  a half hours she gave us  her  evaluation and  you could have knocked me over  with a feather...

 Two year old, eight pound Chihuahua Poncho is the dominant dog!  He is not an aggressive dominant male, but a cerebral dominant male.  He rules by his intelligence, not his size or power.  The reason Taffy is so affectionate to him, playing with him, grooming him etc. is that she is  the only female to his alpha male  Taffy was the dominant dog in the Taffy/Rico pair.  Poncho came as a puppy and was still emitting the "puppy hormone" therefore no threat  to Taffy or Rico. Pat noticed and we have often commented on how Poncho has replaced Taffy in John's chair and always gets between me and Rico when Rico lays next to me on the sofa, moving Rico over.  The recent Taffy attacks have been when Rico has tried to come in the door after Poncho but before Taffy, when Rico has tried to get into John's chair when Rico was on John's lap and when Poncho and Taffy are in the kitchen and Rico tries to enter.  I've remarked how Taffy and Poncho are besties and Rico is the odd man out.  Pat also pointed  out that the cute  way Poncho always rests his head on Taffy's butt when they stand together is highly dominant animal body language.

Pat therorized that Taffyy being elderly and a female, has allowed Poncho to become the dominant dog.  It was a bloodless coup that developed as Poncho went from puppyhood to adult male. Poncho didn't have to fight for it.   Taffy allowed it  and gave up being the one on John's lap, in charge of kitchen and first in and out the door.  But, Taffy would kill Rico before she'd let a weak low status dog like Rico, get above her in pack rank.  Taffy isn't mean and is, in fact, fairly submissive.  It sounds complex and it is, but it makes perfect sense. 

While Pat was here, we called Stacie, who now lives one mile away, to come and get Poncho, who is, after all, her dog.  She did want to take him when she moved, but we has grown so attached to the little Martinet and really did think that he was so bonded with our pack that it would be detrimental to him to be taken away.  Stacie was also surprised about the whole Poncho As Dominant Dog theory, but thrilled to take him home.

We have had two and a half days without Poncho.  All afternoon and evening Friday and a good part of yesterday, Taffy and Rico slept.  It was as if they were on Prozac.  There was no pacing, no in and out the door when  Poncho barked to demand it be opened, no playing with Poncho when he demanded it.   Rico was still leery about going in or out  with Taffy there. Last night Rico slept in my bed.  Taffy had previously been displaced by Poncho in John's bed, and while she hasn't reclaimed that spot she did sleep under my bed the past two nights.  Today she has gotten in the chair with John and earlier she swam with us.  Rico is no longer plastered against me, but has claimed sofa and is over there just chilling.  He's gone in and out the door a few times.  Another surprise is for the first time in over a year my nose has stopped running.  Taffy and Rico do not shed. Stacie did call to report that her allergies have come on full force.  She said Poncho was  quiet at first, but that he appears very happy now.

So far, we're good.  We'll see how it goes.  Who knew?????????????????


Boom De Ya Da

From The Best People I Know Are Dogs file:

Every morning, immediately after the three Girlz go out for the first time, as soon as they come back in, I  give each a MilkBone.  They get very excited as I open the cupboard, reach in blindly and rattle around those biscuits in the dog "cookie jar."  We have an order, always the same...Taffy first, the Rico and finally the baby, Poncho. Each dog has their habitual, self-selected, private eating spot.   I noticed today that Poncho's MilkBone had one end broken off.  I thought about replacing it with a whole biscuit, but he was spinning and wagging his tail and begging so I gave him the broken biscuit. He took it, tail wagging and ran to his spot.  He never whined, "Hey mine's broken! Mine is smaller!  They each got an whole one, a perfect one!  I got cheated!  I want another one!  You love Taffy and Rico more!  You favor them over me"   He just ate his biscuit, happy that he had gotten one. This is just one small example of why dogs are the finest people I know.





I've lived on this side of Florida since 2010.  Every single day of those four years, summer, winter,spring and fall, my allergies have  slammed me.  Today, I found a photo of our house on Google Maps.  Our house is the one with the white screened pool cage to the left of the house with the red dot.  After looking at our back yard and the other side of the lake, I now "get it" about the non-stop allergies...all that green and no frost to kill anything off.


An Earworm for my can thank me later


Taffy Turns Twelve



A dog comes to you and lives with you in your own house, but you do not therefore own her, as you do not own the rain, or the trees, or the laws which pertain to them ...

A dog can never tell you what she knows from the smells of the world, but you know, watching her, that you know almost nothing. . .
Mary Oliver



They May Not Be Fast But...

Warning for dog owners: Taffy is forever crunching on snails and eats them shells and all. Also, fellow Americans, the English say 'garden' for what we call 'yard' so nowhere outside is exempt. I might have to consider giving up my love for escargot, but will do some research on that front first.

Regular Life Stuff

In the Dawg Daze Section:

Rico has owned our hearts for exactly eighteen days.  After Taffy's initial snubbing of him, they have bonded and sorted out the pack hierarchy.  I am Alpha female, which is as it should be.  The dogs know that.  Husband is still fighting the notion of it.  He's been fighting it since we met.  Taffy and Rico have had two dust ups.  The first when we were still in the RV.  Rico decided he would join Taffy in eating dinner out of her bowl as she ate.  She disabused him of that notion firmly and quickly.  He lived to remember his first lesson.  The second lesson was a bit harsh.  One evening last week, Taffy initiated play, butt up in the air, front end down and tail wagging woofs.  Rico had been begging her to play for days and she always ignored him.  Upon her initiation, they played for 30 minutes, running, chasing, barking, tails wagging, fun.  It was just wonderful.  The next day, Rico initiated play, butt in air, tail wagging, begging to play.  Taffy ignored him.  She walked away and he trotted behind her and sort of jumped on her back end. Oh, No, No, No, No No!  Again, Taffy let Rico know who was in charge of canine life around here.  As they say, "The wind blew and the fur flew."  I thought Taffy was killing Rico.  He was screaming like a girl.  I began screaming, husband grabbed Taffy and it was like a whirlwind.  Well, Rico didn't have a scratch on him.  I checked him carefully, fully expecting a trip to the emergency vet.  Nope.  Since then. over a week, it's been cool. 

It works like this.  Each dog has their own food and water bowl.  When dinner is served, Taffy goes to her bowl and eats.  Rico sits a respectful distance away and watches her.  She finishes her bowl and then walks over to Rico's bowl and takes one mouthful while he watches her.  She always takes just one mouthful, chews it and then walks out of the kitchen.  It's as if she takes that one mouthful just to show him that she can and will and he needs to accept that.  Once she has left the room, Rico goes over and eats his dinner.  Then he goes out and joins her.  That Taffy is one kick ass alpha female!  As long as she's in charge, it's all good.  She's a benevolent dictator and Rico gets it.  I wish he'd explain it to Husband...Look...This is what the three critters I live with do all afternoon...

In the Regular Life Department:

We're having guests over for dinner this evening;

Green Salad

Cassoulet with Cannellini Beans, duck breast, garlic sausages, pork and lamb

Dauphanoise Potatoes

Steamed Mixed Vegetable with Brown Butter Sauce

Golden Peach Cake with Whipped Cream