Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Necessary Conversation

Dealing with a shy, tender-hearted dog is still relatively new to me, making this so much harder to write. My previous three dogs were also shelter / rescue dogs. The two adult rottweilers clearly had a past but clearly appreciated me drawing a line in the sand for their guidance. I'm not saying I wasn't a pushover. Milly came to me understanding a litany of commands in both German and English. It took me about a week to surmise she would respond to the last one I tried! I made the switch to English only made when she failed to respond, I would show her. She quickly got the message that what Mamma says, goes.

Milly, Maggie and Mabel all tested me and pushed my limits in their first weeks with me. Eventually, I would feel threatened enough that I felt it was time to let them know I was the Alpha and I would pin them to the floor. Once that conversation was over with, the one exception being Mabel, it was never tested again.

Mabel Lou, as always, was a different story. She tested me throughout our twelve years and I would periodically remind her I was Alpha with a pin... usually in a play session that had gotten too rough. This happened maybe four times in twelve years.

And then there is the tender heart I live with now...


Macy is the oldest dog I've ever brought home. And the best behaved. Honestly, the worst thing I can say about her is I wish she stayed a bit closer on the trail. I wish her recall was better. But  she will often come when I, in exasperation, shout, "Find a good mom!" Then she will come find me...

She didn't want to get on the furniture... I taught her that. She allows me to work on the computer and do my thing... She never demands attention (I really should've known she wasn't a rotten!). She has come around to like petting, finally seeming to understand that my hand can mean good things. I have to remind myself to play with her! She seems to get that just because Mom is loud and boisterous doesn't not mean she is in trouble.  Macy does so many things right, but when I enter the room, her face will often flush with fear... What have I done wrong now?  Nothing my dear. You are beautiful, you are kind, you are sweet, you are important. I SEE you Macy Girl. I see YOU!  I tell her this daily.  It's nice to get lubs... Lubs don't have to hurt.

Except for the Biting:

Macy got into a cholla the other day. This one in her shoulder and many in the top of her head.  We were hiking alone and I knew I couldn't get them out of by myself. I phoned the hiking buddy and we stopped at her house. She had gloves and pliers ready. I removed my shoe lace to try and muzzle the girl.   Macy tries her best to bite us when we're trying to help.

I just couldn't seem to get the muzzle on her and before I knew what had happened, Macy had bit and scratched both of my arms.  She doesn't break the skin...but it's a frightening exchange and leaves me spent every time she tries this!


I think back on the pure bred rottweilers I've brought home as adults and the big powerful mix Mabel Lou was.  Collectively, the three of them snapped at me four times. I startled Milly awake... trying to put a sock on Maggie's cancer ridden foot and it HURT... Mabel with cholla twice.  but NEVER did they make contact! Not even that close. It was more of a "Hey, I don't like that but...ok..whatever...!" And it was over. 

Macy doesn't really bite that hard but my body parts are definitely ending up in her mouth!

Yep, I Have to Do This:

As she slid down from biting both my arms, landing in a "sit-pretty," she fell over. I found myself dropping with her, crawling up her body, no weight on her...just the threat of my body being up in her business. I calmly grabbed her throat, held her to the ground and in a low, calm voice told her, "I am your Alpha and forever Mom. I will never hurt you deliberately. It is not OK for you to bite me or your Aunties when we are helping you!"  She had been struggling but as I talked, she stopped. When she stopped, I caressed her and quickly got off of her. She stayed put for a second before her canine buddies rushed over to her and it was over.

That night she pouted and I fretted. Did I break my tender girl? A friend pointed out that if she was pouting, she was over it... I laughed and waited. By bedtime, she was cuddling for her usual two minutes and not a second longer.

A day later, my annual sinus infection hit with a vengeance. I had a fever of 102.5, crawling into bed, I was shocked Macy was joining me. She's slept with me for most of the last week, save for one night!

I hope we've turned another corner...















9 comments:

Millie and Walter said...

Oh dear! It's difficult to blame them when they are frightened or think you (or someone else like a vet or auntie) might be hurting them. I'm glad to hear she has forgiven you.

Sonja McClung said...

I just love this dog. and you too!

Charliedownunder said...

Awwwwwwwwwwww!!!' Macy sounds an absolute sweetie to me. I'm glad she's sharing your bed!

Mark Muller said...

that blue marks are painful... Easy sometimes snaps my arm just for the devilment ( ha! his face as he bit in my cast once, priceless ).
for me it seems that your Macy really found her mum now... that was so nice to join you and to be with you while you were in pains...

Hailey and Zaphod and their Lady said...

That looks very painful. I hope that the lesson was learned by both of you and you don't face biting again. Hugs.

K9friend said...

You have quite a bruise there. Sure hope it feels better soon! Sounds to me like you did the right thing and made this a teachable moment for Macy.

Pat
Critter Alley

rottrover said...

I think it was a fear bite. Ruby did that once to Mr. Rottrover and really broke skin. As you know she ended up being the sweetest (and softest) dog effur. I know they don't use words, but the do talk! Kisses to MB!!

Auntie Rottrover

PeeeeS: for the record, I am NOT the helpful Auntie...

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

But you ARE a VERY helpful Auntie...just not the one in this story!

Snowbrush said...

That topmost picture is wonderful. My heeler, Bonnie, would bite people and dogs, but she was also so sensitive that I couldn’t raise my voice to her without her being devastated. The only time I ever really let her “have i” was when she was still a very aggressive and nearly full-size adolescent. One night she not only stole my supper right from in front of me, but bit me when I scolded her. She then looked at me, realized that she had gone overboard, and I had to chase her through the house. I got on top of he and yelled at her, scaring her so badly that she peed. You clearly shouldn’t do this, and I never did it a second time with her, but that first time really made a lifelong difference in how we related. We had a schnauzer at the same time we had Bonnie. Baxter would never bite and his jaws were too weak to have hurt anyone much if he did, but he was the most obstinate dog I ever parented. I could yell my head off at him, and he would look at me as if mortified, but two seconds later, he would go back to doing the very same thing that had just gotten him into trouble.

I think you’re a wonderful lady based upon your loyalty to me as well the love and compassion that you show to dogs. You and I go way back. I don’t know just when we discovered one another, but it couldn’t have been too long after I started blogging.