Monday, 28 February 2011

Dog shape cookies and Pupdates

Dog themed cookie cutters are so hard to find in the Philippines~ imagine my joy when I spotted them in the mall recently. So today, I took a break from being a  wannabee dog whisperer, and made cookies for the humans. The fun part was applying the icing because I can make these doggies wear fancy clothes and collars. I felt like a little girl playing with barbie!

By the way, my obsession  passion for baking has been taken to whole new level with this:

(I am deliriously happy that I don't really mind if this is the Animal Doctor's post valentine and advance birthday gift  to me LOL. Thank you, AD!)

Bambi and Trudis, together for the first time since their fight. I made them wear a piece of my clothing based on a theory that if the  weaker dog smells like his owner, his aggressor might be influenced not to attack him   (from this very nice article,  Managing A Multiple Dog Household by Melinda Johnson).
Well, its been three weeks since the mad fight among our dogs. With the reforms made in our multiple dog household, I was anxious to test if the warring pairs could be reintegrated as one pack. My dogs lived peacefully along side each other for nearly three years. It breaks my heart to think that they will become enemies for life (A.D is worried of breaking his wallet too, because the dog pad will have to be transformed into a duplex ).

For  the first time since the mayhem, I let them out all together in the run.  I threatened to go ballistic the moment I catch one of them challenging the other. Trudis only managed to snob Bambi,  while Moy and Jappy appeared nonchalant.

Unfortunately, my  bouyed up spirit quickly sank to the pits of hopelessness when Jappy and Moy attacked each other on our second session. I almost got bitten trying to pry two very angry dogs apart!  Jed and Abby warned us about this. It was wishful thinking on my part to expect the dogs to forgive and forget. I have to remember that my babies are animals;  the inner workings of their minds totally unpredictable. Rather than risking further injury or death among our pets, the Animal Doc and I decided to separate the dogs for good. Jappy and Bambi on one side; Moymoy, Trudis and Woody on the other. I will have to make sure that the resulting pack order in each of these groups is strictly maintained. Scarlet stays inside the house and will be allowed supervised playtimes with the rest of the dogs.

I feel compelled to leave you with a bit of good news about the dogs: Trudis has gained weight! She's put on two kilos since I gave her papaya enzymes bought from a health store!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Changes



"The challenge is to be prepared for the upheavals in our midst.
There  are things that some of us set aside for another day~ choosing the right insurance, getting a burial plan, making a last will that contains a provision for our dogs~ simply because we  are caught up living in the moment."


I am happy to announce that our little Scarlet has resumed her morning walks  on board  her trusty  wheelchair~  this time with a new handler. It’s been a month since the sudden demise of her Kuya Lowie, the Animal Doctor’s assistant who took on the extra responsibility of helping care for our special needs dog.

Several  unfortunate events hit us one after the other at the start of this year. They happened without warning, as if a rug was pulled under our feet.   This served as a painful reminder how temporary everything in life is. The relative peace and content that one enjoys  on a day to day can be shattered without notice. The challenge is to be prepared for these upheavals in our midst, and to be able to accept them once they rear their ugly head.  

There  are things that some of us set aside for another day~ choosing the right insurance, getting a burial plan, making a last will that contains a provision for our dogs~ simply because we  are caught up living in the moment. That  our tranquil existence  can be disrupted is a possibility in the far, far away   future.

Then something happens making us realize the only constant in this world is change.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

SIT!

STAY!
After identifying the possible causes of our dogs' violent fights,  I managed to regain control of the situation, and immediately came up with a game plan. I've read about dogs ganging up on another member of the pack~ a nightmare I never want to happen.

1.Separated  the  two pairs fighting each other-  The dogs are very comfortable in their spacious doggy pad/house, which is why I'm not happy tranferring two dogs  in a separate kennel. Their playtime outside has also been shortened  because they have to be let out in groups now. I had to do this because I myself wasnt confident of my ability to stop them if they go at each other's throat again. Scary

2. Dogs are fed one at a time outside  and in order of their pack hierarchy.- I saw the problem in feeding our dog altogether: a) it did not reinforce pack order b) it made them competitive/combative with their food ( which was aggravated when I put them on a diet).

3. Basic obedience training, revisited-  I figured I can quell the first signs  of power struggles/aggression among my dogs,  if they would listen to me in the first place. Thing is, I may have spoiled the dogs, and now they are convinced there's nothing they can  do to make me love them less.  I do  not subscribe to the use of force, so   I just use the "nothing in life is free" method to restore my leadership in the pack. I make them "work" for things that I used to give them freely, like meals, treats, and affection. Moy attended obedience training before so I just had to refresh him; the rest of the dogs learned quickly, including Jappy, who is an old dog.

I dont know how many weeks or months it will take before I'd be confident to reintegrate the dogs,   if that is still  possible.  But most of you are probably wondering if the reforms I've made have had any effect so far.  I will post about that next time.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Fighting in the pack: What went wrong

A note from the Secretary:


Dear friends, your insights are a big help as I attempt a "postmortem" on the  "mayhem" ( as Asta puts it)  that happened in our dog pad lately.  I am considering some factors that could have triggered a power struggle between Jappy and Moymoy on one hand, and between Trudis and Bambi on the other.

1. Trudis' sickness (suggested by Maxie and her Mom)- Trudis' absence after being confined for weeks inside our house presented as an opportunity for Bambi to challenge  Trudis'  rank in the pack. Looking back, I distinctly remember reading fear and distress in Trudis's body language, but I dismissed it. Sensing Trudis' weakness, Bambi attempted to fight back the next time she and Trudis had a  spat. Though thinner and weaker, Trudis refused to back down at Bambi's initial show of dominance.   What used to be a spat turned into a full blown, bloody fight between them.

2. Bambi had killed a cat (Pussy) during Trudis' absence- Note that only Jappy ( alpha dog) and Bambi ( rank 4th in the hierarchy) attacked Pussy. Having  killed another animal, Bambi could have experienced new found strength and began aspiring for a higher ranking.

3. Jappy's insecurities- Of the five dogs in the pad, it was Jappy who received the most affection from me.  Jappy and I have gone a long way, even before I lived with the Animal Doctor and before  I took Moymoy, Trudis, Bambi, and Woody in. I would often bring Jappy inside the house  at night to sleep with us or with Scarlet during the night.  But I ignored him for days  after he killed Pussy. It was also around this time when the Human Pup came home after  spending the holidays with my Mom in my hometown, and became the focus of my attention once more.

Alpha dogs are usually not  the type to  bully middle ranking dogs because they are confident of their position in the pack order. Jappy's insecurities could have triggered him to pick a fight with Moymoy, to ensure that the latter forever remains below him in the hierarchy.

4.  Moy's unresolved issues- When Moymoy was younger, he had behavioral issues that were party resolved when we took classes on obedience training  I became complacent when Moy stopped chasing his tail; not realizing that his inner demon could be unleashed when he is cornered against the wall. This is exactly what happened when he and Jappy fought.

5. ME-  Many of you are correct in pointing out that I should be the alpha of the pack. I must admit that my tendency to be overly affectionate with my dogs, to a point of treating them like babies  led to the development of  their undesirable behaviors.

6. Diet Changes- This may sound remote but the idea came to my head after our  readers, Jed and Abby offered us a theory to explain the fatal attack on Pussy. Several weeks prior to the incident, I modified  and reduced the dog's diet in my effort to reduce their weight ( all of them except for Trudis are overweight!) . Could it be that  hunger jumpstart  their prey drive and drove them to attack Pussy? Could hunger also be the reason why they became combative with each other usually during mealtimes? (we feed them simulataneously at meal times)

Keeper Lui told me that Bogart ( when he was still on Earth)  and Sumo  fought each other after being friends for several years! I know its possible for dogs to become suddenly enemies, but I never anticipated this to happen with the five dogs in the pad because  four are neutered/spayed.  Well, this experience has taught me that the pack order is very fragile and many factors could break it up, not just competition for food or mate.

Next timeI will share to you the  changes that I've instituted to address the situation in the dog pad.  Last night we already started the exercises suggested by Jasper and Ruth. It remains to be seen if the five dogs can be reunited again or forever separated in smaller groups.

I do not claim to know a lot about animal behavior but I am glad that I am not groping in total darkness.  I am so thankful for all your advice, support and prayers. I  wish to post happier news next time.



Monday, 24 January 2011

Bloody and violent fighting in our pack

Following Pussy's violent death, the thread binding our pets together, allowing peaceful co-existence in our multiple pet household, unravelled so fast and so out of control. 

Left to Right: Bambi (female, spayed), Jappy (male,  intact), Woody ( female,spayed), Moymoy ( male, neutered), Trudis (female, spayed)

For two years, the dogs had no problem sharing a pad. Except for the occasional spat between Trudis and Bambi, where the latter would immediately assume a submissive pose, I didnt not observe any other kind of power struggle within the pack. 

On Saturday, after returning from weeks of confinement inside our house, Trudis was attacked by Bambi in their pad. Trudis was wounded and bleeding on her leg so we had to whisk her away and keep her on a separate dog house. Come Monday, it was Moymoy and Jappy who  had a fight inside the pad. It was obvious that Jappy had the upperhand, but Moymoy would not give up easily. He maintained his stance (although his eyes were turned away) and was matching Jappy growl for growl.   Fifteen minutes through the stand off, the humans decided to intervene before any blood is shed- Moy's most likely. Even with Moymoy outside of the dog pad, Jappy continued to bark furiously at Moymoy,  like he wanted to kill Moymoy. Moy was so scared and stayed on one corner and would not even move when we tried to coax him to cross the playground and transfer to the garage.

Now the pack is divided in two factions and are separated from each other until I figure out a solution. Jappy, Bambi and Woody are staying in the dog pad and are let out periodically in the playground. Moy and Trudis are roaming freely  in the garage right now. I intend to borrow a spare cage from the Animal Doctor's Clinic and put it in the play ground for Trudis and Moy to sleep tonight because the garage will be occupied by the car by then. I cannot let the dogs inside the house because I fear for the Human Pup's safety. He has been attacked by my two dogs in my Mother's house a year ago. All dogs that I live with see the Human Pup as a threat. 

I am trying to analyze the events that preceded the fights. The pack hierarcy has been disrupted, thats one thing I am certain. But do you think it was right that we intervened? If I had a choice, I would have let the dogs settled their differences on their own, that technique works like magic sometimes. But when it reaches the point where they will kill each other for the alpha status, what will you do?

This experience reminds me that the pack hierarchy is dynamic, just like everything else in this world.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Gone fishing


This afternoon, our  cat* was mauled to death  by our dogs Jappy and Bambi.  She was approximately 4. 

I am still trying to make sense of the violence that erupted in our household. The rational part of  me would like to believe that no amount of care and affection can turn an animal other than what it is. In the concrete playground where they do their zoomies and play with their squeak toys,  it is still the law of the jungle that operates.  

Thing is,  I could come up with a thousand justification, but nothing can ease the  tight knot in my stomach, not seeing our cat in her usual spot tonight. She is gone forever.


* I named our cat, Pussy, not knowing that in certain parts of the world, her name had negative connotations. My apologies.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Goodbye, my Kuya Lowie

It is my Kuya Lowie who gives me a bath when my stink-o-meter goes off...

He is always very gentle and nice with me...

It is my Kuya Lowie who takes me out for my daily  "walks" ...


He plays with me...

He and I have lots of fun together...



Kuya Lowie is one of the Animal Doctor's assistant at the Greenwoods Pet Clinic.
Left to Right: Animal Doc, Doc Jun, Kuya Jun( Animal
Doc's brother), Kuya Lowie, Human Pup, Ate Joylene, Kuya Nonony ( Animal Doc's assistant)

 He is part of our family...
Left to Right: Animal Doc, Doc Jun, Kuya Jun, Kuya Lowie, Human Pup, Ate Joylene, Nana ( Human Pup's nanny), Kuya Nonoy.

Left to Right: Animal Doctor, Human Pup, Nana, Kuya Lowie, Kuya Nonoy, Ate Joylene

Our Secretary/Mom considers it almost like a miracle that caring for a special needs dog like me never feels like a burden in our household.   It is because my human family is so blessed to have people working for them who are compassionate and loving to animals. Kuya Lowie did his job with joy in his heart.

Kuya Lowie passed away suddenly in his sleep at around 2:30 this morning. There was no sign  that we would lose him.  He still played with me before retiring last night.

The humans are still reeling from shock. The Secretary is still vacationing with her family in Iloilo City, the fact of Kuya Lowie's death simply refuses to sink in to her mind.  Our veterinary clinic is closed today; everyone is still trying to come to terms with such a sudden loss. The Animal Doctor is taking care that Kuya Lowie's remains be transported to his family in San Miguel, Iloilo. We have to make sure that he gets a proper burial and  prayers for the repose of his soul.

Much has been said about the grief that humans endure when their beloved pets pass on.  My humans will never know how much my heart bleeds for my Kuya Lowie.

I WILL ALWAYS MISS YOU KUYA LOWIE. IT IS YOU WHO WAITS FOR ME AT THE RAINBOW BRIDGE.~ SCARLET






Our Dogs in Iloilo City