Thursday, May 5, 2011

Present at the Changing of the Guard

Kitty at rest
We have two dogs, an 11-year-old Boston (Kitty) and a soon-to-be-2-year-old Boxer (Daisy). Both females, which from what I've read isn't the best of ideas since females with bulldog blood sometimes strike sparks. 

But the Boston has always been top dog, first on the leash, first through the door, first to eat and to eat undisturbed until she is finished. Top dog enough, in fact, to take on a Great Dane that seemed to be in the position of threatening the family. We often joke she's a miniature Bull Mastiff.

I've never been around a Boxer until we bought Daisy. The only indication of dominant behavior from her has been when something threatens two-year-old Kerrigan, the toddler who lives with us. 

Two days ago, however, at supper my wife reached down to give a couple of pieces of turkey leftover from Kerrigan's dinner to the dogs. Daisy immediately attacked Kitty, and the fight (no blood drawn but rather a fight for dominant posture and submission) continued until we brought it to a stop.

"I bet it started because Daisy didn't want Kitty charging at Kerrigan's food," I told Belinda.

Today it happened again, and happened without Kerrigan in sight. Potty break over, I tossed them each a Milk Bone -- the game is to catch it in mid-flight -- but Kitty missed hers and it bounced toward Daisy. When she scooted for it, the dominant fight began. And again it continued until I broke it up, which was accomplished by knocking them apart with my wheelchair.

I sense there will soon be a new pack leader, or more accurately a new animal pack leader, since we take pains never to let either dog try a dominance trick on us. Bostons are relatively small dogs, and thus should live to 15 years or so. But Kitty was hit by a car at 6-months, has a floating hip, and has two bouts of isolated cancer. She also has cataracts, which keeps her close by my side.

It's a melancholy thing to see, this instinctual wolf-gene activating itself in Daisy. But I suppose it is less cruel than nature, where the once-dominant animal is sometimes killed or ejected to starve.
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