Saturday, October 24, 2009

Still adjusting after the dog fight

It’s been five days and we haven’t full recovered. We’ve had to keep the dogs separated to avoid further conflict. It took Bonnie six months to forget about a ball I took from her, no telling how long it will take to forget about the fight with Darlin’. Bonnie has never been in a true dog fight, she usually shows her dominance and the other dogs give in, allowing her the role of alpha female here. She will try and mount Chloe (Eskie) and Chloe won’t tolerate it, but the reactions between the two dogs are enough to make you laugh. Toby sometimes pulls her ears or cheek during rough play. In the seven months Toby’s been here, I only know of two times that Bonnie had enough and Toby ran under the bed after she corrected him. It’s over as fast as it starts.

Tuesday and Wednesday of this past week Darlin sure showed more confidence. So much so that I had to correct her several times as she rushes, nipped, or buffed up to the dogs. The dogs were coming in the house, always in a hurry, when Darlin’ sort of bumped Sam, our blue heeler, in the side and put her head over his neck. That is not appropriate behavior, but thankfully Sam just looked up at me and I praised him for his calm behavior. Darlin’ has calmed down since.

Bonnie has been the most difficult. Given half a chance she would provoke a fight with Darlin’. We have rotated the dogs all week, neither being allowed in the same room unless someone other than myself is in the room next to Bonnie. In addition the dogs must me in a calm state of mind, relaxing in their beds or Darlin’ on the couch and Bonnie on the other couch.

One day I was alone when Bonnie wanted in the house. Darlin’ was in her bed napping. I opened the back door for Bonnie and guided her in to her bed with an umbrella. I don’t have a tennis racket, but I may find one! Bonnie is fast and I feel sure if she growls at Darlin’, based on Darlin’ reaction the other day, Darlin may jump to the occasion and I’ll have another fight on my hands.

The energy changed in the house and Darlin recognized it. I could see it in her face and I was concerned we had a set back this week, but today she seems better. Darlin’ no longer had the freedom to roam the house. I was shutting her in my room when I went to the store and I’ve closed my office door. She has not been shut away so I know she sensed the difference. Wednesday night I took a picture of her on the couch and she had a lot of tension in her face. It hurt me to see her like that. She was also breathing very rapidly the other night which I haven’t seen her do in months.

I have fed them separately because I was afraid of a fight in the kitchen. Not because of food aggression but because the opportunity was there. Last night I allowed them to eat in the kitchen together. Bonnie started walking around so I kept a sharp eye on her. Then she made eye contact with Darlin’ and my husband had to carry her out because she had turned into a viscous little devil.

You can see the holes on the inside of her leg if you click on this image. Click your back button to return to this blog.

We’ve changed the way we sleep. Bonnie has been crated for the first time in her life. We’ve had Bonnie almost three years. My kids don’t think it’s right, but it’s Bonnie that I’m concerned about wanting to challenge Darlin’, not the other way around. Monday night she slept in our bed and the dog bed when I woke to the sound of Darlin’ whimpering at Bonnie and Bonnie was growling. It passed and we went back to sleep. Tuesday night I heard Darlin whimper again and Bonnie was in the bed growling and barking. It took a minute to settle her down, but everyone went back to sleep. Wednesday night changed the way we sleep. I have been nervous, not resting well because I know if Bonnie jumps off the bed provoking a fight in the dark I might not be able to stop it.

Wednesday night at 1:30 am Bonnie woke, growled, barked, and I caught her in the air before her feet hit the floor over on Darlin’s side of the bed. I swung her back over to the center of the bed, holding her down, when I looked back and Darlin’ was on her hind legs, one foot up, and the other on my bed. We put Bonnie out and closed the door. She has never been locked out of our room at night. Once we had enough of her barking we put her in bed and she calmed down. That’s when I decided to clean up a large portable dog carrier and bring it indoors. Bonnie protested about 15 minutes, some of her sounds made me want to laugh because it was more mumbling and grumbling than anything. I knew if I ignored her she would go to sleep and she did.

Last night we crated Bonnie again. As Darlin’ walked in the room to go to her bed, Bonnie saw her and went crazy in that crate like an attack dog. I covered the crate, although it’s mostly plastic, and she settled down right away. We slept well. We will continue to crate her until I feel secure that she won’t threaten Darlin’.

We have a downstairs den so my husband will take Bonnie down with him in the evenings and I’m able to sit on the couch upstairs with Darlin’. This is our usual routine anyway; the only difference is that Bonnie hasn’t been able to leave a room without supervision.

Going back up through the downstairs door as Bonnie goes outside from the upstairs door.

The dogs are not allowed in the yard at the same time so we are rotating Darlin’ and Bonnie when Darlin’ goes out. Bonnie loves the outdoors so she’s happy to stay out longer. Darlin’ has to be with me or she sits at the back door.

This incident has been upsetting for me. It’s raised my level of anxiety and fear, although it’s getting a little better. Emotionally I find it upsetting that I can’t let Darlin’ out with all of the dogs, nor can I trust Bonnie not to provoke Darlin’. I was just at the point where I wanted to leave the back door open more frequently and allow Darlin’ the chance to see that the yard isn’t a bad thing without me. That she would be able to come and go and not have any fear that she couldn’t get back inside. Now when I leave the house I have to put Darlin’ in my room and I’m not sure that I will be comfortable leaving them together for a long time to come.

Bonnie is recovering from her injuries. You wouldn’t know that she was in a fight and had us all worried. She’s been herself every since she woke from the sedative, but her temperament is that of a dog aggressive female Jack Russell right now. When she enters the house her tail is down and she shows submission with me, but I’m sure if Darlin’ were nearby she would go into attack mode.

I’d like to give Bonnie the benefit of the doubt and think that her reactions to Darlin’ may be fear based right now. She has shown some signs of discomfort by licking her lips when Darlin’ is on the couch and she’s over on the other couch in her bed. That said, she’s showing dominance and aggression by barking, growling, and trying to lunge off the bed. Perhaps there is a little of both.

Staring at my neighbors while they were outside singing again yesterday. That woman is nothing but obnoxious. They cause Darlin' anxiety.

Last night. Toby is always by her side.

This morning.

Bonnie on the other couch with a little tension in her face.


  1. Is it possible that a lot of the tension you are sensing is coming from you and into the atmosphere in your home?

  2. Me again. I took the time to go through all of your photos. In all but a couple, the Jack Russel appears to be a bit aggressive to Darlin' and Darlin' appears to be fearful. I looked at not only the body language but at the eyes of both dogs. What you may be seeing isn't dominance coming from Darlin' but a bullying tactic by the Jack Russel.

  3. is bonnie jealous? darlin' has enormous proximity to you.

    i do love that picture of darlin' and toby, staring off side by side. that is adorable.

  4. Scout and Freyja

    I get where you're coming from, I've watched enough Dog Whisperer shows. My emotions are under control, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit how stressful the situation has been. I never even raised my voice during the fight, I only held Sam back. Nor did I panic taking Bonnie to the vet or waiting for them to unlock the door. I don’t think they can read my feelings if I can remain calm, but they can read my behavior and reactions.

    When Bonnie was in her crate last night I was changing clothes. I had no fear based anxiety whatsoever, yet Bonnie was beating and attacking the crate when Darlin’ walked in the room. Darlin’ left and went to her bed in the living room - a sign of submission. I never said a word. When I covered the crate and Bonnie quieted down I called Darlin’ to her bed and it was over. And when I’m sleeping at 1:30 in the morning with nothing on my mind, my emotions aren’t influencing Bonnie to lunge over the side of the bed.

    As soon as they made eye contact in the kitchen last night I knew what was coming. Then Bonnie goes into crazy viscous attack dog mode. My husband had to snatch Bonnie off the floor because she was asking for a fight. I had to tell my husband not to stroke Bonnie when she’s growling. He’ll say, “Now, now, stop that Bon Bon” all the while petting her to calm her down. The petting tells her it’s okay to growl. “I growl and threaten Darlin’ and Daddy loves on me.”

    Darlin’ was a street dog, I’m sure she defended herself on a number of occasions. She is a survivor. After what I saw the other day, I do think she could kill Bonnie or put her in the hospital with severe injuries. Once Bonnie doesn’t feel that sore leg perhaps we can get back what we had. She never growled, threatened a fight, or has shown any aggression towards Darlin’ until now. Never. They shared and swapped food bowls. Bonnie would walk in and could care less about Darlin’ by my side.

    I mentioned in an earlier post that Bonnie would look in Darlin’s direction and Darlin’ would look away. There is a hierarchy in a pack of dogs, Bonnie has always been the dominant dog in the pack. For Darlin’ to look away she is telling Bonnie that she’s not a threat. This is how it should be in a pack of dogs. If Darlin’ were to make eye contact then she becomes a threat and this behavior results in fights. It’s canine communication, something I have read a lot about since bringing Darlin’ home.

    Darlin’ was not socialized to dogs at all, she was fearful of all of my dogs to begin with. The first time Toby tried to share her bed I heard him yelp and when I looked down Darlin’ looked up at me with a tuft of Toby’s hair sticking out of her mouth. Toby is very submissive; he will roll over for the dogs, so it was easy for him to bond with a fearful dog.

    I know Bonnie is the issue right now. After the fight Darlin’ showed a lot of confidence, but over the last few days she’s calmer. It’s time to train Darlin’, something I put off because of her fears. In the last two days she has learned to lie down. The only way she’ll get used to the leash is by walking her on a leash which I must do more often. We will try to get out and walk them together this weekend. They have never been walked at the same time.

    Thanks, Laurie. I’m watching out for jealousy issues. I’ve seen some small signs from both dogs. The fight was over a rock when anxiety was high between both dogs for different reasons. The dogs haven’t been treated any differently, just rotated. I have several pictures of Toby and Darlin side by side on the couch. They are always looking in the same direction, very in sync with one another.

  5. Scout and Freyja, if you were referring to the picture of the dogs and the cat on the couch here

    This is Darlin's look when I had the camera. She always looked away or down. Bonnie was looking over across the room. I have so many pictures with Darlin' looking like that. On this blog there is a video of Darlin' after 10 weeks home, you'll see Bonnie in the yard as I walk around with Darlin' and Bonnie hasn't a care in the world. The video may be in the "Life of a Stray Dog post."