Tuesday, December 11, 2007
  dog whisperers
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?
I think you are definitely doing the right thing. You have to think about what's best for all of them and I think it sounds like Maggie wants to be an only dog. If that family takes her, she'll get what she wants.
yeah, it's all kinda crazy. she seems to get along just fine with sebastian. she even seemed to be PLAY w/ him the other night when i took them out to go potty. and she's not a player - not yet.
and she sleeps peacefully alongside buddy... i trust them completely. but gretchey, she just can't deal with her. i don't get it. it's very sad.

but we'll figure it out. thankfully i have chris and patty in with me on this and they are all very level-headed and caring about all of the dogs, maggie included, even though she's hurt their baby gretchey badly a couple of times. they're such good folks. we'll figure it out. and maggie will be much better off in the long run than she was when i first met her in the shelter. :)
Hey Stace, I was by no means inferring, suggesting or even intimating that you and Chris aren't about fixing this. I just wanted to share my experience. Trust me, if I was a Dog Whisperer I sure as hell wouldn't be working here!!! Anyway, good luck with the pooches, I DO understand about them getting stuck in crates for lengthy periods of time. We have one rescue (it seems they're all rescues of one sort or another) that if not supervised will go after the cats. And I do mean GO AFTER THE CATS, Xenas' crated when we're not with her. We do have one advantage tho. My wife runs the kennel and is home or nearby most of the time so Xenas time in the crate is limited. I will say tho that she puts herself to bed when we're getting ready to leave. Good luck, I really do know what kind of a dilemma you're in. If I didn't already have 7 (yes, seven) dogs I would offer to help you with her......but I can't rescue them all, no matter how much I want to.....(cats too, last count, 9 in the house and 14 fosters in the kennel waiting for some lucky person to adopt them...

You know animals and you know YOUR animals. Don't worry about what Anonymous said. I think you're doing your best to be proactive and protective. It's a tough situation and I wish you luck!!
thanks, michelle!

my god, the longer we have maggie, the harder it is. i want to keep her SO BAD. i just wish this problem would go away, but at this point i can't even let the two dogs hang out to see if it has/will... we can't risk it. it sucks. but maggie is getting extra extra love all the time. she's really gotten just goofy and great. hops around the house. gets hyper. really, she's a different, lovely dog than when we got her. even lovelier than i expected.

she'll make someone a very happy family. :)
"Anonymous" either a) Doesn't know you well enough at all, or b) is stupid.

You routinely go above and beyond the call to care for animals (delay trip to the Keys to buy then release a pet-store octopus? Sure!) and anyone who assumes that you are not trying hard enough or that makes an inference that you & Chris are cheap and would rather eat at Olive Garden (What the FUCK?) than pay for a trainer is clearly -- and I don't feel I'm out of line here -- a jerkoff.

Your intentions have always been true when it comes to animals, and I can't imagine that has changed at all.

Except for Sonny. What a bad person you are to saddle my parents with such a wretched bird as that.
A truly awful animal. (And that bird’s not so great either.)
Ha! :)
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I'm Stacey. I'm a 31(!)-year-old Wisconsin girl living in sunny South Florida. The highlights in my life are my lovely boyfriend, my aloof cats, my adorable/adoring stepdogs, my two lumbering tortoises, select family members, being outside, being underwater, taking pictures, yadda yadda. Stay tuned for lots of babbling!

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States


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Making a difference

A small boy lived by the ocean. He loved the creatures of the sea, especially the starfish, and he spent much of his time exploring the seashore.

One day the boy learned there would be a minus tide that would leave the starfish stranded on the sand.

When the tide went out, he went down to the beach, began picking up the stranded starfish, and tossing them back into the ocean.

An elderly man who lived next door came down to the beach to see what the boy was doing. Seeing the man's quizzical expression, the boy paused as he approached. "I'm saving the starfish!" the boy proudly declared.

When the neighbor saw all of the stranded starfish he shook his head and said: "I'm sorry to disappoint you, young man, but if you look down the beach, there are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see. And if you look up the beach the other way, it's the same. One little boy like you isn't going to make much of a difference."

The boy thought about this for a moment. Then he reached his small hand down to the sand, picked up another starfish, tossed it out into the ocean, and said: "Well, I sure made a difference for that one!"

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