PetWill Radio

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dog Whisperer to the Rescue

I love dogs. I love dogs so much I have five (5) of them - Kira (10), Corkie and Leiden (9), Tobie and Fawn (1). If my husband would let me, I'd probably have ten (10). When we lost our beloved Tiger last year to cancer, we (Joe and I) felt like we just didn't have enough dogs. We decided to fill that void with two (2). We adopted sisters, Tobie and Fawn from Buddies for Life, Inc., a local rescue organization. They were eight (8) weeks old and adorable. We did all the same things we did with our other dogs - crate training, potty training and a daily walk.

At about seven (7) months, Fawn and Tobie got into a terrible fight. We didn't see what started it, only that Fawn seemed to be out for blood. We were able to break them up and Tobie seemed no worse for the wear - thank goodness to her thick coat. Fawn ended up with a gash on her head. I jumped on the Internet to do some research and also called my vet. His advice - consider putting her down. She is a mixed breed dog of unknown origin and the risk to the other dogs (or even people) may be too great. This was not the answer for me - so I suggested we try her on Puppy Prozac. This seemed to ease her anxiety, some. At least we didn't have any more fights. So, all's well that ends well - wrong. I took her off the Prozac thinking maybe we wouldn't have a repeat performance. A few weeks later, Fawn and Tobie got into a fight again. I still didn't know what caused the altercation - only that it was incredibly violent. Back on the Prozac.

I don't like the idea of my puppy living on Prozac so I only gave her half a dose, hoping that was all she'd need to "take the edge off." Everything was fine - for a couple of months. Last week, Fawn and Kira got into a terrible fight. Again, we never saw what started it, only that it was very ugly and Fawn seemed to be the aggressor. Joe had to break it up and it was very emotional for all of us. Kira was traumatized, Fawn seemed to be in a stupor and the other dogs were standing around in disbelief. The only thing we could reason was we had allowed Fawn to stay in the house the night before as it was very cold and she has the shortest coat. (Note: all of our dogs - except Leiden - have crates in the garage where they have their beds and lots of blankets). Fawn fighting with Kira was unacceptable - a one (1) year old against a ten (10) year old! Kira didn't even seem to try and fight back. Should I double Fawn's Prozac? I didn't know what to do. I hoped it was a one time incident.

A few days ago, it happened again. Fawn and Kira in a terrible fight - Joe in the middle trying to pull Fawn off of Kira. Joe had reached the end of his ability to deal with this - we were going to have to put Fawn to sleep. I can't even imagine the thought - there has to be something we can do. More drugs, a single dog home, or maybe....a dog whisperer. I've read Ceasar Milan's Book - "Ceasar's Way". He says euthanasia should be an absolute last resort and he's only met two dogs in his career that couldn't be rehabilitated. Certainly Fawn didn't fall into that category. She's normally very sweet, if not overly timid. How could she be such a bully that the only option would be to end her life?

I got on the Internet and started doing more research. Was there someone in the Orlando area I could call on? I had received a recommendation from my farrier so I called her and set an appointment for Friday after work. As an extra measure, I also found another lady who could come out on Saturday afternoon. I was very excited. I was finally going to find some help for Fawn. Friday afternoon arrived full of thunder storms so that appointment went by the wayside. Saturday afternoon, Cathie Harvey of More Happy Tails arrived. We spent a long time talking while Cathie watched me, watched Joe and watched the dogs. She made some interesting observations (and suggestions)about our pack's behavior. She also suggested we take what I now call a "pack walk." We took all five (5) dogs for a three mile walk - two miles on leash, one mile off. This was how the pack would better learn to interact and I would lead. Very cool. We all had a great time. Even Kira who probably hasn't been on a walk in at least 6 years (she has bad hips) did great! Corkie and Leiden were both exhausted, but happy. Cathie said do this - the pack walk - every single day! Wow! I already walk Fawn and Tobie two miles each weekday. Now I'm supposed to walk five dogs seven days a week!

Cathie also observed that Fawn, as a very insecure dog, is looking for leadership. She's not finding it in the dog pack, so she's looking for leadership from her humans. Apparently, she's not getting enough one on one time and attention from her human pack. Cathie suggested we allow her to become an inside dog and see if it has any effect. Last night Fawn slept in the bedroom on the floor next to Joe. Leiden usually sleeps on the floor next to me - she can sleep on the bed, but she seems to prefer the floor or her bed. I figured she would probably sleep on the bed if Fawn was on the floor - I was right - she slept right next to me all night!

Today we had our second pack walk - only this time without Cathie. Just me and five (5) dogs plowing down the road. We even did a mile off leash in the woods. Every came when it was time to go back on leash.

This is just the beginning. We'll see what tomorrow brings. Stay tuned.

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