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Random Blog Journey-2-Peace: The Dominance-Dance

    Trish Monaco.
    singer. songwriter.
    dog walker.
    human. living.
    loving. laughing.
    in Los Angeles


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Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Dominance-Dance

It's been a long time since I've done overnight pet sitting for a tough dog. I'd say large but Maggie isn't so big. She's just one solid mass of muscle.

She's part of a misunderstood breed.

Referred to some as American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffies, Pitties. Call them what you want, they're still Pitbulls. And they come with a bad rap.

People see her coming and they cross the street to get out of her way.

We walk her twice a week. Seperate walks. Because she's unpredictable. Misunderstood by even myself.

So, she's been staying with us since Thursday. The introduction to our home was easier than anticipated. The transition for all of our pets - sleeping, eating, playing arrangements - was flawless.

We even had Otis here for the entire day yesterday and they played with each other. Poor Maggs doesn't realize what a brute she is. One slap of the paw will take down one of our little ones. Even when she doesn't mean it.

She's been kept separate from dog park groups because of her unpredictability. So I've never even attempted to integrate her into the pack. She's a one-dog pack. Loves people!

Because she is a dominant female dog, she does well with male dogs and submissive females.

The unfortunate part of that is, my dog Hunny is (and always has been) a dominant dog. I spent years training her to resist dominating helpless critters. She learned quickly that the only top dog above her is me.

In the good old days of her youth at the dog park, Hunny could be found humping and bumping all kinds of dominant dogs - even (especially) those bigger and stronger than her. For some reason, the other dogs would go right to the ground and flip on their backs for Hunny - who weighs a mere 23 lbs.

Well, she's not so spry these days. She's over twelves years old. She's been slowing down in the last couple of years. She's been through bouts of illness and hip problems due to chronic urinary tract infections.

The problem is, she still thinks she's a young tough thing. She will die fighting for her life -- or fighting to save ours. Recently, she jumped a dog three times her size because the dog was attacking Piper.

I can hardly bear to think what would've happened if I hadn't been there to grab the big dog away.

So here we are, Hunny, Piper, Maggie and our kitty Gracie. We've been keeping a close eye on the two bitches because they're vying for top dog status. In this house, our dogs are alpha when other dogs visit. We see to it. Truth be told, the humans are the toppest-dogs. And we see to that!

Yesterday, Maggie snapped when Hunny tried to hop on the bed with everyone. That was the last of our bed that Maggie will ever see. She earned herself a nice cozy spot on the floor with her blanket.

Maggie also earned herself solitary confinement when she snapped at Hunny for going near her bone late last night (long after the bone was already taken away).

This morning I found two puncture wounds on Hunny's head and face. Even after searching last night, they didn't appear till this morning. So Maggie has permanently earned herself seclusion at night.

It makes me sad.

Sad that I didn't notice the wounds last night and I was cleaning crusty blood off of Hunny's fur this morning. My poor girl. I just love her so much!

Sad too that Maggie just doesn't get how strong she is.

Dogs snap at each other all the time. The problem with a pitbull's snap is their ultra-strong jaw can do serious damage.

Maggs knew she had done something wrong. I took her down and showed her who was boss. Now, all I have to do is give her a look and she backs up, lays down and looks away. She shivers when I go near her.

Like all dogs Maggie just wants to please us. It would take a lot of time to get this kind of training down. But we only have her for another week.

And the stress!

We have to keep them separated when we're not able to keep our eyes on them. Luckily we have the space. And if it gets too stressful, we can always split up. One of us can sleep with Maggie in her own home while the other stays here with our pets.

I'm not one to give up though. They're all good dogs. And this kind of stuff comes with the territory.

I just don't think this is the end of the dominance-dance. So my hackles are up.

I imagine Gracie (our six-month-old kitty) is sitting back laughing at us all. It seems pretty clear to her that she's actually top dog.

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