The Wiener Wars Part II
Bitches in heat will often fight each other, and tragically, even kill each other. They can even go so far as to dig under enclosures to facilitate an attack, and puppies may end up as collateral damage in the heat and passion of fighting. So in households with numerous potential mothers, it is wise to be alert to situations that may spark jealousy. If it is is a kennel situation, insure that all kennels are dog proof. In a non -breeding household, spaying females may alleviate some of the stress induced by unrelated animals sharing a home.
The house was abnormally quiet as we parked the van and walked up through the courtyard, talking and carrying our groceries. Normally the dogs would have heard the diesel van churning up the grade, and been exploding with excitement. Of course, occasionally we do catch them all flopped in their beds snoring , which is what dogs are usually doing if a robbery is about to take place. So I didn’t get worried about the lack of a welcoming committee until I walked into the living room and saw Mokie looking all hangdog, and, strangely, quiet?Stranger still,
she was wet. I went on into the kitchen to put my bags down, calling Franny, who I hadn’t seen yet, and Mercedes….but there was Mercedes on a dog bed, also looking cowed. The rest of the dogs were oddly subdued; in fact the whole place reeked of Weiner guilt. Counting as I went, I continued on iInto the dining room with Franny on my mind, as I’ve been trained, calling to my husband, “O.K., I don’t see Franny. Where’s FrFranny?” I flipped on the dining room light right then and saw what appeared to be fur covering the entire tile floor. I tthought they must have torn apart a stuffed toy, but there was so much….In about the same instance I was thinking this it dawned on me that this was dried blood I was seeing, blood that had been swished all over the floor by dog bodies, and SOMEBODY must be in a pretty bad way, indeed.
Taking in the two guiltiest looking of the Weiners, I grabbed Mokie first and saw that she was indeed wet, she had been the hairy little bloody paintbrush describing the pitched battle all over my floor. She had a couple of tears on her ears and a bite, not deep, on her neck, still bleeding slightly. Then I looked at Mercedes, who seemed to have gotten the worst of it, with torn ears, bitten and swollen lips, and a jagged wound on top of her head. I got them both in baths and cleaned up their wounds with antibiotic salve. I didn’t scold, beyond asking “Are you happy now? Done? ” because whatever had happened had already taken the stuffing out of them and they wouldn’t have understood. And surely it wasn’t my imagination, that they were hanging their heads and sneaking peeks at each other with what can only be described as shame and chagrin. Besides, when I saw the remains of a particularly delectable and much coveted chew toy, the all-day sucker kind, I knew the whole murderous episode was my fault for leaving them with something that, given enough time, they would certainly fight over.
I tried to imagine the mayhem of Mercedes and Mokie going at it while the others…well, what would the others be doing? The old saying “I don’t have a dog in this fight” pretty well describes what they must have been doing, which was taking a swift peek into the dining room and then getting the hell out of Dodge. Franny was STILL hiding. Izzy, feeling brave now, was skipping back and forth like he was going to tell the story in pantomime. I sternly told him to go lie down. I don’t like gloating.
My breeder friend C and I agreed I was really lucky Mokie and Mercedes didn’t kill each other. She pointed out that they must have been evenly enough matched to get exhausted about the same time. Which is a good lesson in avoiding inserting yourself into a dog fight: they usually stop on their own before any lasting damage is done. If you must intrude, throw a blanket over them, because you are going to get bit otherwise. That’s because both dogs will think you are coming in to help them subdue the other and, anticipating the cavalry, bite anything that comes into view. It’s not anything different than guys getting into bar fights, so no need to feel all superior to the poor animals.
Mokie and Mercedes make a good case for increasing your dog household with these rules in mind: if getting 2 puppies the same age, try to first get them from the same litter, and get one of each sex. Two females from seperate litters are more likely to grow up in constant competition, not having had the advantage of figuring out in the litter box who will dominate. The same is true, but to a lesser extent, with males. But if you get a boy and a girl, even if from separate litters, you run less chance of problems developing when they are 2 years old and asserting themselves, because the male will almost always by default dominate the female, unless she is in heat, pregnant, or raising pups. At which time he dances attendance on her, does his duty, and then retires to read the newspaper for 8 weeks. Of course, if they are related, they have no business being sexually intact anyway, and your male is just one more poor bastard thinking those are his kids. Sort of like Izzy.
Unlike wolf packs, which are made up of an Alpha male and female who do all the breeding, our dog packs are rarely related. We shove them, complete strangers, into the same household with no firm hierarchy and expect them to fall in love with each other. We usually don’t try to match personalities, because we fail to see how complex is a dog’s emotional life. It is only owing to the supreme common sense of most dogs that they get along 99% of the time. No one wants to risk being bitten unless it’s for a really good reason, so little slights and insults and irritations are quickly let go. However, when females are in heat everyone is on edge and flare ups are more common. It’s something like the hormone wars of adolescents and their perimenopausal mothers. Minus the sarcasm.
Male dogs, on the other hand, are fairly sanguine even during mating season. While Izzy used to run around frantic when Fritz was showing some interest in one of the girls, or a stud had been brought in, there were never any fights. Fighting would lessen their chances
of living to breed another day, and besides, while they may be picky before they are ready to mate, most bitches couldn’t care less who’s back there when the actual moment comes. Or if they do, the tie happens so fast it’s too late to complain. There is the rare instance when a completely spoiled little princess (like Franny) will barely allow a male within striking distance, then try to shred his face after the deed is done. But then, that’s what you get for letting your bitch be a bitch.