Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Doggy dilemna

Here is the Mutley Crew: Abby, Ginny, and Chili. Abby, a Rottweiler mix and Ginny, a purebred Catahoula Leopard Dog were shelter dogs and arrived with various issues. Abby remains terrified of fireworks, thunderstorms, and big green garbage cans. Ginny fears stranger's hands coming down over her head and dogs on leashes lunging and jumping at her. Chili, an Australian Cattle Dog, fears nothing and aspires to rule the entire dog world. We aquired her from a family member who could not keep her as a year old pup. Like a lot of ACDs, she needs a job to burn up her nervous energy. Unfortunately, she does not have one. She is compelled by DNA to organize and control everything around her. She doesn't sleep much. She is food and toy aggressive with other dogs. She cannot be walked on a leash with our other dogs because she is manic about running up behind them and biting their heels.

She is ball obscessed and swim obscessed. She is smart and fiercely loyal. In the dog park, off leash she does fine. On lead, she seems to find it impossible to read an other dog's body language. In beginning obedience and dog agility classes she was really stressed out by other dogs coming too close to her and lunged constantly. The other owners black glowering looks discouraged me and I gave it up. On walks with me she lunges and growls at strange men and other dogs if they get too close. In other words, she is a prototypical ACD. As the AKC commentators always say, "Not a dog for the inexperienced or casual owner."

Chili broke a hip as a six month puppy and her body cannot keep up with her mental drive, even after hip surgery. She is epileptic and must be on daily anti seizure medication. She has horrific allergies and a leaky bladder. Definitely a special needs dog.

Here's the problem. Every other year or so, something triggers Chili to pick a fight with Ginny. There's a dominance base to the episodes. Chili can't win. Ginny nearly lost an eye on the last fight but Chili seems to get the worst of it. A fight happened last week end at the beach triggered by food aggression and that weird leash thing despite our efforts to be careful with them. Danny and I got hurt breaking up the fight. Chili got bit in the side of the head, almost all the way to the skull and had to have surgery.

Both dogs get along great with Abby. I hate the idea of rehoming one of them: it would be like Sophie's Choice involving anguish whichever choice I made. Ginny would be a two time loser if rescue would even take her because her first family gave her back after three months "because she jumped up on the children". Chili, who would really be happiest living in a barn and working stock on a farm can't because of her hip. But I really fear the consequences of another fight.

Anyone with dog knowledge out there, I would welcome suggestions. I really love these dogs and want the best for them.

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