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.
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.
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?!
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.
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.
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.
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!