New Year, and a Resolution?

What is this funny clicking feeling under my fingers?  Oh, a keyboard?  And I’m forming words?  I’m blogging again?!  Okay, so it’s “only” been twenty days since my last blog, and admittedly since I’ve even read anyone else’s, but I’m back!  I’ve kind of had a lot going on: hosting a big Christmas Eve dinner, a close family member that was just diagnosed with cancer of the boobies, the devastating realization that I cannot continue to spend money on rescue stuff the way I did last year (damn you budgeting!), other minor things  (admittedly including a lack of motivation), and lastly, something I debated even sharing: my girls got into another fight.

Atlas

Here’s the deal: I’m embarrassed, ashamed, and heartbroken that I have allowed this to happen…again.  I have sworn to protect these lives.  I am supposed to keep them safe.  I have charged myself with their health and happiness.  And here’s the worst part: it’s actually the third time a fight has occurred.  I never said anything after the second fight because I just didn’t know what to say.  I decided though that the entire point of this blog is to talk about dog related topics, put myself in the blinding spotlight, and hopefully help some people along the way by sharing my experiences; be them good or bad.

Joffy 2

There are different schools of thought when it comes to multiple dog households.  I know some people with even more dogs than me and fights are a regular occurrence.  They liken it to us humans living with roommates.  You live alone, you’re never going to fight.  You live with one other person and likely things will go smooth but maybe you will have little squabbles here and there (Buddy and Tag lived in perfect harmony for 5 years.)  You live with three, or four, or more and the chances of personalities clashing grows with each addition.  I’ll be honest, to some extent this is my mentality.  More personalities = more chances of personality conflicts.  Then there is the opposite school of thought, which is that through proper management no matter how many dogs you have, they should all get along, all the time.  I agree with this, too.  Which leads to my confusion and frustration over the whole situation.  What am I doing wrong?  Am I not tough enough?  Do the dogs not feel safe with me?  Do I not have any control over my own household?!

Elliot II

I’ve analyzed the three fights a million times in my head.  The first time was when we were away at work, so we didn’t see the actual fight happen, but there was strong evidence to suggest that Tag attacked Maggie.  There was also a second foster puppy in our house at the time.  The second fight happened when a friend was in town visiting with her two dogs.  This time the fight was witnessed and it absolutely was Tag that attacked Maggie.  The third fight happened when my brother came over on Christmas with his two dogs.  The start of this fight wasn’t witnessed so it’s hard to say who started it.  What’s the common denominator?  Another dog(s) in our house.

Radar II

As I’m typing this, the girls are curled around each other, almost forming a perfect circle.  There is no arguing that they adore each other…when their world is precisely in order.  It doesn’t matter that they get along perfectly with all of the other dogs that have been present for the fights.  They never fight with other dogs, but their world was out of order with them in it.  As far as I can tell, it’s Tag lashing out at Maggie each time.  And this makes sense if I think about it.  Tag has always been whatever the doggie version of jealous is.  I know their thoughts and emotions aren’t as complex as ours (that’s not to say they don’t have them though!) but if you have ever interacted with Tag, you know what I am talking about.  For the first roughly 3/4 of her life she lived with me and Buddy.  No one else.  No other dogs, no other people.  Then Rich moved in.  Then I started fostering.  Her little world was changing, and she didn’t like it.  Maggie was originally a foster, and I think Tag was okay with her in the house because she thought she would leave one day, too.  But Maggie stayed.  And timid Maggie got lots of attention as I worked to help her gain confidence and come out of her shell.  The first fight happened after Maggie had been in our home for about 8 months.  And there was another dog there, too.  It’s like Tag exceeded her threshold and snapped.

Harley

So this brings me around to my resolution.  After a long chat with Stephanie from And Foster Makes Five (who is truly one of the greatest friends I could ever imagine) I accepted the fact that I need to be spending more one-on-one time with each of my dogs.  I am confident that my dogs are in fact well trained, and know what is expected of them, but there is never such a thing as too much training, or continued reinforcement of the fact that I am the leader, protector, and yes boss, of this family.  Obviously they need the alone time and individual attention more than I had realized.  I don’t need to beat myself up anymore about the fights, I just need to actively prevent them from ever happening again.

Daddy II

Obviously this also means that I can not allow any triggers, i.e. other dogs, into our home again as long as Tag is alive.  This hurts my heart more than I can express with words.  Daily I see dogs I could be helping.  I live in a big house with a big yard.  There is ample room here for other dogs.  I have abundant resources.  But my obligation is first and foremost to the dogs that I have already made a commitment to.  So, no more friends over with their dogs.  No more puppies sleeping over as they travel through town on their way to a rescue or forever home.  No more fosters.  Ever.

Do any of you have a New Year’s Resolution that involves your dogs?  Have you ever had to make a really tough decision, like never having another new dog in your home?  Do share!

Every single one of the gorgeous dogs in this post is still searching for his or her forever home.  They are genuinely good dogs and crave the love and attention that comes from a family all their own.  Please share and help them find their perfect match.  And feel free to email me if you have even the smallest of questions about any of them: morganrivera518(at)gmail(dot)com.  Thanks!           

28 thoughts on “New Year, and a Resolution?

  1. WELCOME BACK! I missed you! And, thank you for the wonderful cookies (and special recipe too!) I have 100% faith in you that you will be able to find the balance you need to provide care and attention to your dogs, as well as others. We all need to sometimes take a step back and see the big picture of our life, and what is going on around us. You work wonders with animals I am behind you in your continued efforts. Smile!

  2. Issues started between Cricket & Doodle early last fall and after a few bad incidents I finally decided it was best to crate & rotate. It isn’t ideal but I won’t risk one of the dogs getting injured, and getting rid of one is simply not an option for me.

    It will be an adjustment for you but in the long run I think everyone will be happier….good luck 🙂

    • Crate and rotate is precisely what has scared me into doing something about the situation. Getting rid of one isn’t an option for me either, and knowing how tough it is on a friend that has to crate and rotate ALL of her dogs, well, I knew I had to get serious! So glad you’ve been able to adjust, and I know I will too.

  3. I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago (and yes, I’ve read most of your posts since the beginning now!). I would just like to say that I really admire you and seriously appreciate you honestly sharing your experiences.

    I have two rescue pitties also, both girls. While we would love to let them be together 24/7, we keep them separated for portions of the day even when my boyfriend and I are at home. (Not exactly crate and rotate, but the same concept. We keep one in the kitchen and have the other in the living room, separated by a tall baby gate.) The girls are just far too excitable to be together constantly, sometimes they need a little down time.

    It’s really a shame that more dog owners don’t have the same level of commitment as you (and Queen of Zoom, too!). Sadly, many people would just give up one of the dogs. It’s obvious just by your devotion to them that you will be able to work this out!

    • Hi and welcome! I am SO impressed with you and your boyfriend for not just recognizing your dogs need down time, but actually acting on it! You are far better than I, because you have recognized and stopped a problem before it ever got a chance to occur. Major kudos to you! I agree, it is a shame more dog owners aren’t willing to put in the effort. An ounce of prevention is worth 100 lbs of cure in my opinion!

  4. I’ve missed your posts, I’m sure this one was a hard to write. But, I’m sure you’re doing what’s right for the pups you have now. And, I completely understand.

    I kept saying that when we were settled in that we would start fostering but Dottie unfortunately won’t let us, she’s too dominate and wouldn’t allow another dog in our house, even overnight. So in the mean time I’m having to find other ways to help the less fortunate pups out there and I’m sure you will do the same.

    • Oh, I do! I’m still very involved with the rescue I’m part of (and I can almost always be found working on helping other dogs that aren’t part of the rescue) but it’s just sad realizing that what I reeeeally love, I can’t do. I love that you stay involved even though Queen Dottie doesn’t want any other dogs in her castle 😉

  5. It sounds like the girls just need to be separated when there are visitors. There have been a lot of changes for Tag! Gambit handled everything before our big move like a pro, but had a very hard time post-move. We tried to foster recently although everyone agreed that we’d wait a few days to make sure the dogs got along before committing. All supervised activity was fine unless she initiated play because Gambit didn’t like how she did it. He ended up with a minor injury after a small scuffle that was 100% his fault. It was a big deal to him, though, and we had to make the decision to return a foster for the first time so he didn’t become too fearful to continue fostering. Obviously I haven’t had the guts or willpower to write a post about it.

    • Also, all dogs will NOT get along all the time! We decided to stop allowing dogs to earn unsupervised time together after we started fostering Eddie and the vet that runs the rescue was all for separating even the most amicable dogs when unsupervised due to the potential for unexpected fights. Gambit is being crate trained because if a dog ever escapes their crate, I still don’t want them to have access to each other unsupervised!

      • Ugh, I am so sorry it didn’t work out with the foster. I know that had to have been heartbreaking. Seriously, good for you to recognize his needs and make the tough call for the sake of possibly being able to help more in the future! Not many people have that level of foresight and it’s impressive!

  6. You are amazing for fostering dogs, but I think, and this is just my opinion, that you are being too hard on yourself. I am a pet sitter and hopefully by the end of the year a Certified Dog Trainer as well as a first time foster mom. My girl, Alex, is 11 1/2 years old and I board dogs at my home, up to 3 at a time, for a few days and many times for months and months. Crate time is used when I am training them, when pet parents ask me to do so, or when I need to be out of the house. Under no circumstance I ever leave Alex and any other dog together unsupervised. Last Friday I went to pick up my very first foster dog, Bella, a beautiful 3 year old pit mix and I have it on shut down like the shelter recommended and every time Alex passes by her she growls. I hope to take care of this problem after she is done with her down time, 2 weeks, and work with her. For me, the walks we do as a pack are extremely important, but I have to wait for 2 weeks. Is Bella a challenging dog? In some things yes, but she has more positive traits than negative ones. I’ll start blogging about her in a couple of days. Thank you for fostering and I am sorry its not working out.

    • Oh my gosh, I am SO excited that you are fostering! The two week de-stress is said to work wonders. Stephanie from And Foster Makes Five swears by it. I can’t WAIT to read about how things are going with her!

      • Thanks. This is our first time fostering a dog. I will be blogging about her, but that won’t be until after her 2 weeks of down time as per the shelter I got her from.

  7. You have to put Tag first and although you are no longer able to have other dogs over doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to one day (sorry I don’t mean that to sound harsh!) Life is a long time. I can’t wait until I am in a position to foster or have a dog fully of my own (Mity is my folks, and BD is his) but Mity and BD would not cope with other dogs in their houses and so, as you have pointed out, my duty is first and foremost to them.

    And don’t forget just because you can’t foster doesn’t mean that you can’t still be involved with rescue.

    • Hey, when the time is ready, you will make a fantastic foster and/or adopter! And you’re right, I fully intend to stay involved in rescue, just don’t the fostering aspect.

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  9. You can’t save the entire world, so just preserve your little perfect part of it. Keep in mind, the kids you have now, would they have had the life they have without you? So then, the very act of being the best guardian you can to them when no one else would, isn’t that the definition of what Rescue is?

    More than you know, I am with you on every point you made, especially “But my obligation is first and foremost to the dogs that I have already made a commitment to.” It’s hard to say, and sometimes hard to believe, but you’re doing the right thing. I have no doubt you will find other ways to help creatures in need, and there will be many who will be glad you are you.

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