ok... the problem with shows and books out nowadays about dog behavior is that everyone fancies themselves a dog expert. and all of that is very interesting, i give you that. i have read up on it. i understand the concept behind dominance, behind alpha dogs and packs and all that. i have pinpointed what causes maggie to freak out - it's when things are excited. she attacks gretchey probably because she is the other female, she is the alpha.
we are not giving up on maggie. in fact, she is laying next to me as i type this, freshly bathed and happy as a clam. we are not bringing her back to the shelter or throwing her away or anything along those lines.
however, i would ask the anonymous commenters to think about being in our position. we have rushed our very beloved gretchen to the ER twice in the past two weeks, her shaking and bleeding. this isn't about US. it's selfish of anyone to say that that we should do this or that, acting as if we should use gretchen as our test case for figuring out doggy psychology.. in the end, we suffer a little emotionally, sure - but in the end, she is the one that suffers most. she is that ends up bleeding and on medication and crying in pain.
as for speaking to a behavioralist, do you think i haven't done that? i've talked to two. the one is the head one for the humane society. i've talked to her multiple times now, crying on the phone to her. we've talked about her coming on a private basis to our home to assess the situation, but she has been very realistic with me, and neither of us are very sure how good it would do us. she says learning obedience would be good for her as it is good for ANY dog, but whether or not it would help this very unpredictible, damaging behavior, she cannot reassure me in any way. with maggie growing up in the shelter, she never learned proper socialization, never learned to play bite, and it is impossible to turn back the clock. we can teach her how to behave, but even if we get her to stop doing it for now, there is nothing to say she won't do it in a month or a year. and she warned me about the fact that maggie is going for gretchey's legs - that's a sign of genuine aggression. she said she would be best off in a home without any other dogs... that even the sweetest doggy in the world can have issues with other dogs, so maybe she'd be best off as a people-only dog.
so basically, maggie could live her whole life in the crate while we're at work, because even if we get her to come around, we will never be able to trust her outside with gretchen alone. what if the pool guy comes and it excites her and she snaps? what if the fpl guy comes? what if something random happens? a neighbor's landscaper? even if things SEEM better, after this last time, it became obvious i can't take a CHANCE - taking a chance could mean the end of gretchen's life someday. how would i feel about my choice then? so yeah, she gets to spend her days in the crate rather than outside with the other dogs, unless we divide the back yard, which is pretty much impossible, and even then, there is only one air conditioned area for the dogs to come in during the summer.
OR... this other family that is interested in her, if it works out... maggie has free reign of their house. free reign of everything. no worries about her hurting someone there. no being crated all day for fear she'll hurt the other dog there.
what is better for MAGGIE here? option one? really? i don't think so...
i ain't giving up on her. we're still weighing the options. chris even pointed out again tonight that we could keep her if we just kept them separate, but doing so for the next decade seems like a really huge undertaking. but she's here until something better comes along. sadly, while she's here, someone is neglected. someone is in the crate, being protected or being restrained. tonight, she's sleeping in bed while gretchen is in with patty.. but what about the nights patty isn't here? someone gets stuck in a crate. during the day, someone will get stuck in a crate ALL DAY. and that's not what i intended when i added a dog to our pack.
does that make everyone feel better than i am doing right by this sweet little dog?