On August the 13th, 2009, which was a Thursday, had I brought home a truck load of chew toys neither Sam, nor Bert would have so much as raised an eyebrow. That entire truckload of chew toys would have sat right there until someone hauled them away, or like a few I tried to interest Sam and Bert with, they would have fossilized in the backyard, unchewed, and unloved.
Oh, but now there’s a puppy! Now there is someone who loves chew toys better than anything else he’s seen since whatever it was that grabbed his attention in the last fifteen minutes. So I bring home three chew toys. I have three dogs. All the chew toys are identical. All three dogs get a chew toy, did I mention everyone has their own gorram chew toy?
Bert walks into my office, abandoning his chew toy in the bedroom, on the other side of the house, and he attacks the puppy Lucas, who for the first time since I’ve been paying attention, tries to defend his chew toy. Lucas hasn’t the mass nor the will to face down Bert yet, and he knows it, but he’s beginning to push back, and push back hard. I, on the other hand, do not give a damn who is pushing whom, or who has what toy, what I care about is trying to write a little fiction, the Sara story, and suddenly there is a dogfight right under my chair. I have a plain old wooden chair, the same chair I’ve had all my life, and I take this chair and pin Bert to the floor with the four legs.
“That is enough.” And the dogs know when I say that magical phrase there will be no more doggie drama. All barking, fighting, rough housing, chasing, jumping, and anything else canine stops. Sam flees the room. Pay attention to that fact, it’s pertinent. Lucas just wants his chew toy, and Bert looks pissed off. I let him up and he immediately jumps on Lucas, who fights back.
Did you just start a dogfight two feet away from the Alpha, who is still holding a large wooden chair in his hands? You didn’t, totally you didn’t. I not only pin Bert with the chair, but I use it to guide him into the hallway. Remember Sam? Sam comes in the other room, fur on his back all ruffled up, and heads right towards Lucas.
Okay. Apparently the English language has failed me. We will revert to stronger and more definite forms of communication. I throw the chair down in front of Sam, and he looks at me as if he just noticed I was there. I’ve seen that look before, and have the scars to prove it. I snarl at Sam, and he retreats from whence he came, double time. Bert and I, on the other paw, are going to have a sit down and shut up meeting. I let the two younger dogs out, and Bert and I go into the office and close the door.
Sit. Lie Down. Come here. Sit. Lie Down. Come here. Sit. Lie down. Come here. Sit.
For the better part of half an hour I drill Bert with simple commands until he’s snapping them off like he’s on fire. When he hesitates I pop him on the nose with a chew toy. Sit. Lie down. Come to me. Bert gets cornered and I drill him from that corner to the next one. Sit. Lie down. Come here. It’s useless to do this with Sam because he’ll cower down and not move at all. Sam got here like that, and nothing I’ve ever done has helped. Hitting Sam makes him worse. He’s been physically abused all he will ever be, if I have a say, and I try not to yell too much at him. Sam learns from Bert, and Bert is learning the hard way there is no lee way when it comes to the command, “That is enough”.
They’re all outside now. They’re all friends again, but the chew toys were taken away, and put on the shelf, within easy reach of all dogs. We’re going to go through a few simple commands here, and we’re going to, eventually, get this right.
One person in this house will start, and end, all of the fighting. Anyone who starts a fight with anyone else, starts a fight with me.
One person in this house decides who gets toys, and who takes toys away. Anyone who takes toys away starts a fight with me.
I will not stand for a munity involving the better part of two hundred pounds worth of tame wolves.