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"The Weight of Gold"

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31 January 2010

I hate dogs.

I especially hate these dogs.

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For no particular reason.  Just on general principle.

We've had a couple of blissful weeks around here with no food problems.  None.  Zip.  Nada. 

I found the secret to getting them to eat and to get each to eat out of his or her own bowl.  Canned food.  Now canned food isn't good for the bigger dogs because they both have a bit of extra avoirdupois and Ashley recommended not feeding them canned dog food, which they love.  But then Polly came along, skinny thing who was afraid of her shadow and wouldn't eat anything because she was afraid someone was going to beat her up.  The way to get Polly to eat?  Canned food!

But the bigger dogs complained a lot about not getting that good smelling stuff that Polly got to eat, and dinner time was always three dogs running around trying to decide who had the best dinner.  Polly got locked in the cage to eat, but that didn't solve the problem of the others scaring her trying to get her food.

So the solution was a LOT of canned food for Polly (who is now normal weight) and a teeny bit of canned food for the other dogs.  I put a teaspoon full of canned food into the bowls, fill with their regular scoop of diet doggie food, stir it up so it all smells like the good stuff, and they scarf it down.  And, because they know that they have the best bowl, they aren't going to risk leaving it to check out what Polly is eating.  Even Lizzie starts eating as soon as her bowl is put down and doesn't follow me around to see if I'm sneaking treats to the others and leaving her out.

This worked fine for about a week.  Then Sheila came to salivating so much over the idea of her canned dog food that as soon as I picked up the bowls to fill, she would take her spot where she usually waits patiently for her food and she would jump up and down and bark.  "Hurry up!  Hurry up!  I'm going to die if you don't get me my food right now." 

This wasn't too bad until Spencer decided to bark too.  For the first few days it was Sheila and Spencer facing each other, barking together, both barking for their food.

But then yesterday it became Spencer and Sheila barking at each other, which wasn't bad until the food had been served but after the 10 seconds it took both to finish their respective bowls, they they began attacking each other.  Or more specifically Spencer began to attack Sheila, who could easily make an hors d'oeuvre of the tiny dog.

Now there seems to be an air of constant tension in the house, meal time or not.  Sheila never initiates a fight, but is more than willing to participate if Spencer wants to fight.  This morning timid Polly joined the action from my lap, where she felt safe, and snarled and snapped at both Sheila and Lizzie, following Spencer's lead.

Interestingly, I had a note last night from one of the adoptive moms of one of our Rainbow Pups.  Remember them?  We had Blue, Pinkie, Golde, and Panda (Panda was back and white).  There had been 13 of them in the litter, all identical looking black and white puppies who were marked with colored string to tell them apart.

All of the puppies were adopted by Davis families and on their first birthday, we had a birthday party for them at the dog park.  Fifteen familes came, the 13 adoptive families, the family that had the mother, and us, since I had bottlefed half of them.  Alo the interim family that had my four when they started getting too big for me to handle (that was in the days when I actually gave puppies away when they started getting big). It was fun to see them all again.  Walt and I went to the second birthday party too, but felt we had less interest in seeing them when year three rolled around, so we didn't attend the party.  Apparently the families that came compared notes on their 3-year old dogs and in the past year ALL OF THEM have started showing aggressive tendencies.  My correspondent said that her dog (she adopted Golde, who is now Pixie) had started attacking her older dog, a 12 year old dog she'd lived with peacefully for three years and also lunged at their 4 year old dog but ended up biting the mom instead.  I suggested she contact the UCD Vet School, since it's right here and see if they have any explanation why all of these dogs began to get aggressive in their third year.

There are times when I live so closely with these dogs that I almost feel I can understand how they communicate.  It's interesting, for example, that if I cook steak for dinner, Sheila just keeps sleeping in the living room but if I cook lamb chops, she sits by the kitchen table waiting for us to finish and give her a bone.   If I get up to get something out of my purse, nobody pays the slightest attention, but if I go to the same purse in the same position and am going to go out, both of the older dogs know instantly that I'm leaving.  If I'm sitting somewhere and thinking about giving the dogs a treat, you know that within minutes, Sheila will come in looking for her treat.  It's pretty amazing.

But I can't get into their heads when aggression starts for apparently no reason, with no change in routine or anything.  I had just written to tell Ashley what a special dog Spencer is, and now suddenly he's no longer Dr. Jeckyl, but Mr. Hyde.

This morning an SPCA volunteer came to take Spencer and Polly to dog training classes and what a comedy of errors that was.  I wish we'd had a camera man.   Polly thinks that any time she gets put on a leash terrible things happen to her, so the only time she doesn't want to be connected to my body 24/7 is when I have a leash in my hands.  Spencer doesn't have those associations, but he sure doesn't want to be on a leash.  Sheila and Lizzie only want OUT of the house.  Sheila knows she isn't supposed to leave without my permission, but I'm always hesitant to test that out, so I have her by the collar.  I let Lizzie go because she will come when I call (which Sheila won't). 

Lizzie escaped and the SPCA girl had both puppies by the leash, one running off to her left, and one refusing to budge on her right.  Lizzie was exploring the property of neighbors who don't talk to us and I kept calling to her, but she was ignoring me.

We got Spencer in the car, but he wanted to leap out, so SPCA girl held him back while I dumped Polly, who wanted to fly out of my arms, in with him.   Lizzie saw that the other dogs were going to go on a fun ride in a car, so she came running up and I grabbed her and took her into the car while the other dogs ran off.  

Spencer came back home, while Polly went to Petco.  Lizzie got out again, Spencer immediately attacked Sheila.  I went after Lizzie and caught her, brought her home, took Spencer off the leash and he immediately left a huge pee puddle in the kitchen.

I really do hate dogs.


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It's in the blood...



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