Wednesday, January 26, 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, January 24, 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, January 19, 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, January 5, 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.


Our Dogs in Iloilo City