For all of those who brought home a stray or two like myself, apart from being the happiest person in the world and being gifted with bouts of uncontrollable laughter every so often due to the strays’ shenanigans, have you ever wondered what your little strays’ packs consisted of before you ?
The reason for today’s post is something I see in Midnight’s behavior, the reason for which was explained to me by Michelle from Doggie Dayz. I see her trying to protect me, and Kahlua.
Why little girl ? You are the little-ist of the pack ? What makes you think we need your sweet little defenses ?
“Because foster ma, I is never had a packs before you twos !”
Kahlua is an anxious dog who is largely very well behaved, but also knows he can get away with murder(not literally of course.. go get a grammar book.) if he can appeal to Mom’s soft side. This is what Mom was made to realize. So for instance, if a highly dangerous, murderous human being walks past and Kahlua begins to bark, Midnight does too! And all her guards are up. She feels the need to protect him. (The nerve!)
But in the half hour that we practiced Kahlua-calming at Doggie Dayz, I actually saw Midnight sink to the the floor and curl up into a ball of slumber. Like little black magic (well, because she is a black dog). The little girl must be so stressed out all the time with this burden she has brought upon herself to protect us! It should be us who protects and shields her, not the other way round.
Now here is why I labeled this post as “tough thoughts” – Little girl is getting too attached to us, and it goes without saying that we are to her too. The dogs’ attachment plays out in different ways. They decide to drive the human crazy, or stand outside each other’s kennels staring at the one who was ‘locked away’ and steal toys from each other. Lately they’ve started this other thing where Kahlua will crouch like a tiger and stalk Midnight and finally break out into a chase. My point is, they do not know of the imminent separation in the event that Midnight finds her perfect new family (and leaves this dysfunctional one behind). But, I do. So I’ve had to make a tough call – introduce separation.
I’ve already begun separate walks a week before Thanksgiving, because they both need separate types of training during their walks, and I would also prefer to stay in one piece. But I’ve also requested couple of other volunteers to have Midnight stay over with them every once in a while, and possibly co-foster with me. She will also go to day care without the big guy more often. I already did this once this week (daycare) and saw a significant difference in her approach to day care. With the big guy around, they both usually make a beeline for the daycare door, greet Michelle and never look back. Yay for play! But, when she was by herself this one day, she kept looking back at me leaving, pulled on her leash and made her sad face through the glass. I had to walk away. Little girl needs to un-attach. My heart breaks, but she does need this. I feel like I am taking her new pack away from her, but I’m trying to make her more independent of us. I will ensure she feels secure and loved, but at the same time does not feel the need to protect us.
The second tone of this problem is the big guy’s anxiety. Michelle has taught me how to distract him from the source of anxiety, so that he remains calm and Midnight remains calm consequently. No doggie drama. We already practiced this at Petco this week. It was only Kahlua and he spotted a life threatening human being in the check out line and decided to be vocal about it. With one quick correction with the leash and a “Sit”, he stopped, and sat.
With more and more practice of these two things, I think we will be a healthier pack.
Remember – Midnight is still looking for a perma pack! Do you want to be it ? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.