The Raising of a Puppy, part 2….
Koda is an alpha dog. She came into the house as a puppy and quickly established that she was the boss of Blackie. She tried to establish that she was the boss of us, too. We – especially I – had to work very hard to make it clear that she was subservient to humans. I *think* she gets that now. One wonders, sometimes, though. In getting Koda, I was trying to get a dog that would be like our wonder dog Pepper, who had been a one-in-a-million dog. Very smart and very willing to please. A winning combination.
Koda is missing the “willing to please” gene.
Our new puppy, Columbus, appeared to be the alpha of the puppy pack. We brought him to visit Berto’s parents’ new litter of puppies. (Stella, Columbus’ mom, is from them. They have been breeding Golden Retrievers for a decade.) Columbus and the alpha of their pack had it out. Columbus wound up on top, but walked off limping. Yup, alpha. And we brought him to a puppy social at our local dog trainer and we were told that he was an alpha dog with nothing to prove. He was a gentle alpha. He would walk into a squirmish between two other puppies as if to say, “hey guys, let’s all get along, shall we?” and they’d stop their nonsense. I started having hopes that he would be able to out-alpha Koda and we’d get a stable leader of our two-dog pack (three, with Stella, but she’s a part-time member). I had visions of them bonding, once Koda learned to relax. Of Columbus telling Koda, “listen girl, just leave everything to me. I’ve got it covered. I’ll take care of you.”
Hahahahahahahahahaha. I have such an imagination sometimes.
Koda quickly decided to set the record straight about her boss status. She did this by grabbing hold of Columbus’ nose and shaking him. It was brutal. There was blood. I was horrified. I called in the big guns. A dog trainer named Kerry who has a passion for working with difficult dogs. She assessed the situation, gave us some tips, and I tried them. They were always okay walking together. But outside of the walk, the attacks were quick and seemed to happen out of nowhere. I knew and avoided a few things that would set Koda off, like letting Columbus get near her “stuff.” But I couldn’t figure out all the trigger points. I think sometimes Columbus just looked at her the wrong way. I think sometimes she was just plain jealous of the attention he got.
I gave up on the “let them be together as a pack” advice and claimed Columbus as mine with Koda. I wouldn’t let her near him unless it was under close supervision. I put their crates next to each other so they could get used to each other at night, with protective bars between them. I was VERY careful with dog toys and chewies. Slowly, very slowly, I started to trust her more. Then, just when I’d think things were good, there would be another attack. It was very discouraging.
Until, one day, coming back from their walk I decided to let them loose to run up the driveway to the house. Koda immediately started using her obnoxious herding maneuvers on Columbus. And then, Columbus, prone from being bowled over by Koda, snarled at her. And she backed off! It was a beautiful thing.
Now Columbus is near full size. And instead of the rivalry they once had – in Koda’s mind, at least – they are playing together, sharing toys, and Koda licks his muzzle now instead of biting it.
I love stories with happy endings, don’t you? Oh, but I’m not done raising my puppy, so this is only the end of a chapter.
To be continued….