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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dominance Issues

My poor baby girl, Ruby, was attacked twice in the last week by her cousin, Emmy (Edward's border collie). Emmy was also a rescue dog, who had been relinquished to a rescue foundation because of her very domineering personality. Over time she's gotten a lot better with other dogs, but has never been able to come to terms with my Ruby. In my house, Ruby is the alpha dog and in her house, Emmy is alpha. Two alpha females spells trouble.

Being much more dominant that Ruby, Emmy often nips at her and tries to mount her to show Ruby who's in charge. Everything is generally fine, except (apparently) when Ruby is (or appears to be) higher in altitude than Emmy.

Emmy is also on top alert whenever Ruby is near me. My guess is that Ruby emits some sort of "I love Mama and I have to protect her all the time" pheromones that Emmy senses. Here you can see her ready to nip Ruby if need be while Ruby smiles up at me:
The other night Ruby was on top of the bed with me and Potatoes where I had been asleep for about an hour. Emmy had been in Edward's room with him. When he opened his door to use the bathroom, Emmy came charging out and ran into my room (she's been sleeping in here with all of us because she likes to be with the pack of dogs). Acting in her normal "protect Mama" way, Ruby jumped down off the bed when Emmy came in. Emmy and Ruby started fighting and it took both Edward and I to separate them. (Admittedly, this woke me up and the room was dark so both Edward and I were confused and couldn't really see anything.) Hearing your baby girl scream is a horrible, gut-wrenching thing.

Emmy punctured Ruby's leg in several places, but nothing too serious. Ruby got Emmy's nose pretty good, but again it wasn't anything terrible.

Only a few nights later, both girls were sitting on the ottoman we have by the front livingroom window (so they can see outside) and they were barking at Edward, who was standing in the front yard. I walked over to the window to tell them to shush...Emmy jumped off the ottoman as I bent over to talk to Ruby. Apparently, Emmy didn't like that Ruby was higher up than her (or she thought that I was picking Ruby up) and she majorly attacked Ruby. Since my arms were near Ruby already, I instinctively picked Ruby up and kicked at Emmy to get her off.

At first it didn't look like she'd done much damage, but then I noticed a dime-sized hole on Ruby's front left wrist area--and the tendon was exposed!

I sorta freaked out. After a phone call to the UC Davis ER Vet (available at no cost 24 hours/day...thank goodness for my sanity!) we determined that she's be okay until the morning when I could take her to our regular vet. Edward helped me wash the wound with lots of water and wrap it in sterile gauze. Then we pulled a sock over the bandage and duct-taped it to her fur so she couldn't get it off.

She didn't seem to be in any pain for about 3 hours...then she wouldn't walk on that paw at all and whimpered a lot. I gave her a half pill of the pain medicine from when she had a tooth removed so she could sleep.

So nearly $400 later she's on the mend. Thank goodness the tendon wasn't damaged--she could have lost use of her paw, been in TONS more pain, and the repair would have potentially cost us thousands of dollars.

The vet gave her 3 sutures and she has to wear an Elizabethan collar (read: lampshade) for ten whole days!!! The poor girl is still learning how to maneuver it around the house...she keeps running into things and doesn't understand that she can't fit through the doggie door anymore. It is both funny and sad to see her try. I really hope her ten days are over before this baby boy arrives...it is so hard to snuggle with a dog who is wearing one of those things.Edward has been reading up on dominance issues between alpha female dogs: it is clear that we, as humans, are doing something when we're around that messes up the dogs' clearly defined dominance structure. So we're working on figuring out what we're doing wrong (most dogs, like ours, never fight when humans aren't around) and adjust our behavior. Sigh...it'll be a long road...I know it'll be tough to teach an old human new tricks.

1 comment:

Mimi mouse said...

I don't know really anyting about dogs, but I love watching the dog whisperer on TLC I think its fascinating...I guess that really isn't helpful