Furry Friday

I wasn’t going to blog today, as I was busy doing some other stuff, but when Spring heard I was slacking, she held the little Riddle hostage.

You’d better post something, or the wee terrier gets it.

Yes, Riddle is STILL WITH ME.  How is this possible?  Who wouldn’t love that scruffy little face and want to take it home immediately?


But in better news, the old lady dog from Animal Control is responding very well to medication and lots of love from her foster mum, Stephanie.  She’s on three different medications for her enlarged heart, the vet clinic staff removed most of her matts, and Stephanie has given her oodles of affection and attention, and Emmylou is rallying right back!

It’s so sad that anyone let her get to this state.  The vet believes her to be around 12 years old.  That’s it!

Around 12 years old:

Around 12 years old:

Isn’t that just crazy to think about?

It’s hard to believe it snowed this time last week.

And today was a beautiful sunny winter day.

The melted snow and rainstorms we had all week left giant puddles everywhere though, much to Mr. Orange’s dismay.

I am getting downright sick of this cat.  This morning he woke me up at 5:30AM by scratching non stop at a kitchen cabinet door for something like 20 straight minutes because he felt like getting into the plastic bags.  When I hollered at him to knock it off, he responded by waking me up an hour later scratching in his litterbox endlessly after using the facilities, until I leaped out of bed and chased him out of the bathroom.  I dislike being woken early on my day off.  And yes, his box was clean, I emptied and scrubbed it late yesterday afternoon.  He’s just a shithead.

When we went for a walk on the acreage this morning, he complained about the wet and puddles CONSTANTLY.  When he doesn’t want to go somewhere, he stops walking and yells a metronome style series of meows.  Today I was so annoyed with him that I didn’t indulge him and just kept walking, and he meowed long and loudly until I was more than an acre away.  He’s a real pain in the ass!  And he’s free to a good home.

Seriously, you can have him.  He’s a nice enough cat, but I really didn’t want a third cat and I especially did not want a third cat that I don’t really like very much.  He was supposed to be a barn cat!  I think he should live at your house instead.  Lock up your plastic bags.

In all seriousness though, who among you has rehomed an animal because it just didn’t work out for you?  And how devastating was it for you?

I’m starting to think, sometimes, that I should rehome TWooie (insert pause for collective gasp of astonishment).  Not because I want to – doG knows I love The TWoo.  But he and Dex are really growing to loathe one another something fierce.  They’ve never gotten on well, and the more mature Dexter gets, the less tolerant TWooie gets.  I’m breaking up more and more growling / Mad Teeth™ / circling matches between them lately, and I’m starting to get to the point where I’m wondering if I should be concerned about leaving them alone together every day.

They don’t fight … yet.  Mostly they don’t fight because Dex knows he’s not supposed to fight with other dogs.  As a result, he gets bullied by TWooie.  And this doesn’t help TWooie learn not to f*ck with Dex.  And I’m worried that one day Dexter will lose his temper – and he’s easily twice as big as TWooie.

Dexter was here first.  TWooie came last.

I feel bad for Dexter because he often doesn’t even come into the room where the rest of us are.  If I don’t babygate the bedroom off limits, he will spend his time up on my bed instead of in the main room with us.  I can’t help but wonder how much the stress of living with a dog who hates him affects Dex.  I just don’t know.

Of course the other problem (besides the fact that I don’t want to part with TWoo) is that giving away TWoo probably means giving away Woo as well, which is unthinkable.  Because they are joined at the hip, those two.

Or should I just put Dex and TWooie in a cage and let them have an Ultimate Death Match?

Can I referee?

Okay, but really … do you have any useful suggestions?  I’d love to hear them.  I’m lucky in that I can take Dexter to work with me if I need to, but jobs and life change all the time, so I don’t want to count on that as being a long term solution in the event they can’t be left alone together.

I don’t want to give up any of my dogs!  We need some ideas.  I am thinking of smearing both of them with peanut butter every day and forcing them to make out until they fall in love.

Can we talk about me now?


  1. Have you tried a DAP collar on TWoo?

  2. The Food Lady says:

    No, I haven’t. We have those things at work, and to be honest, I’ve not seen them be very useful for either the dogs or the cats.

    I should have mentioned that TWooie is on both Melatonin and some Herbal natural calming remedy, neither of which makes a huge difference. I think the biggest problem here is that he just doesn’t like Dexter. I can think of a few people I would punch daily if forced to live with them, and I kind of think of it like that :(

  3. Could it just be that Twooie’s attitude is because Dexter is not neutered?

  4. The Food Lady says:

    No, I don’t think so. I think we over-dramatize testicles too much. Lots of people around the world live with multiple intact dogs without issue.

    TWooie has lived with intact male foster dogs that he didn’t hate. And besides, even if it were part of the problem, it’s probably become very ingrained by this point, I suspect. Dex will be neutered soon, but I don’t think it’s going to solve anything … even if TWooie magically decided Dex was okay after he’s neutered, Dex still isn’t going to like TWoo after 18 months of being bullied so it’s not going to resolve the problem. Dex has become so wary of TWoo that he sometimes gives Wootie Mad Teeth ™ too now.

  5. I am glad the little old lady dog is perking up somewhat – it’s so sad she had to go through ending up in that state! It’s so surprising she’s only 12. I cannot help you with any of your dilemmas tho, I can only wish you luck and hope that helps… :(

  6. Food Lady I love your blog first off. It is the high light of my internet play time when you post.
    Second I have an ass-hat dog. He was the last one I brought home to fill out my pack of 4. He has been the problem dog with my other male despite both being neutered. He is also the ass-hat that wakes me up at the wee hours of morning on my day off. I know where you are coming from. I’ve thought of rehoming him several times (waking me up early has been the biggest culprit in wanting to rid myself of him). Every time I’ve thought of it seriously I break down and cry and I make lists of reasons to stay vs. reasons to go. In the end I’ve always talked myself into keeping him. Four years later he is still waking me up at inapropriate times but a lot of the dog aggression issues have resolved after years of death threats coming from me :) Stick in there, the answer will come to you and in the end it will all work out, I promise.

  7. Unneutered dogs are often targets, so what Mary says could be true.

  8. To this day, I think that if someone with a nice fenced in farm and some goats offered to take my dog, I’d let them. He’s happier in a place where he can roam, and where he has a job. I love him, and I know that he loves me, but he’s not as attached to me as he is to some other people who influenced his early life (or, I suspect, as he is to my fiance who he’s only known for 6 months). When he was around a year old and running off all the time, I seriously considered rehoming him. We are not really a match, and caring about someone or something sometimes means you do what hurts you. Eventually, through lots of discussion I decided that rehoming him would be exceptionally difficult due to his breed and the special challenges he, as an individual, presented and still presents.

    He’s almost 5 now, and we plan to get our CGC, and maybe TDI by the end of 2012. I’m seriously considering adding a second dog, though having committed to him and being unwilling to crate and rotate may limit or eliminate that as a possibility now.

    Keeping your dogs safe and happy is what’s most important. Unfortunately, sometimes, where they would be the safest or happiest isn’t with you. As much as I think it would break my heart to rehome my current dog, if I thought he’d have a better quality of life, I’d do it. I feel about that the same way I do about fostering, as long as I know they are going to good homes where they will be loved, I think I would eventually be okay with it.

  9. I feel your pain. Aspen is often called Ass-pen. I’ve had him tested for thyroid problems, Lyme disease, and a host of other things. All the test revealed the same thing–he’s a jackass. But only to my oldest beagle. And the Hunter has the same behaviors that Dex does. He’ll sleep up on the chair when everyone is out. Makes a beeline for his kennel if Aspen starts skulking around, throws off tons of calming signals…no idea WHY Aspen has decided to hate this one dog but they’ve had numerous run ins. Hunter has been punctured several times, nothing very serious but still ticks me off. Hunter is 14 he can’t take much more abuse. So I manage. Manage, manage, manage. :/

  10. I would think that once Dexter no longer has his bits, TWoo *might* back off of Dexter a little bit. :S You can’t rehome the WooTWoo!!

    Good luck!

  11. Sawyer is a complete ass to ALL dogs…and there are days where I long to leave him on the side of the road somewhere. I’m not sure if I would have kept him if not for the fact that he bonded with my BF and became his Service Dog. He’s really hard to live with in many ways…but loves his daddy. The dogs all tiptoe around him, because he’ll growl if they even come within a few feet of where he’s sleeping. It’s all management, and it does get tiring. But I make sure my dogs all have time away from him…so I don’t think they mind much. Inara just bitches back…the others all jump and scramble.

  12. Food lady it is possible that they dont fight when you are not there. You are the prize , and there may not be any reason for them to fight without you. I hope so anyway.

  13. Hilarious. What a bunch of fun critters. Lovely photos.

  14. Food Lady – I would practice judicious containment. Keep them separated when you aren’t there to intervene – either in separate rooms or crate them. They’ll live and the others will gloat:) Treat them equally, though. So if you crate TWoo, crate Dex also. And if there is a favored room, rotate them between it while you are gone so there is no perception of favoritism. Border Collies have a very strong sense of fairness. Spend time with them separately instead of all in a pack. You can’t make them like each other, but you can keep them safe and give Dex some breathing room when you’re not around so you won’t be worried.

  15. No great advice but I’ve lived with critters that don’t get along and it’s stressful. Home is supposed to be a peaceful place. Good luck!

  16. Also, I definitely want Riddle. Of course, I live in Manitoba. Plz to ship me little scruffy dog, kthx?

  17. hmmm however difficult it is….one can always “manage” dogs that don’t get along. question is are you willing to do that forever? our interpretation of fairness may or may not be in sync with the dogs. Do they really hate each other or just fight over you? will they parallel walk together on leash? can you get someone to assist you and do some inline walking one in front of the other just to test them….the one in the back gets to check out the one in front as much as they want..the one in front HAS to keep moving forwards….repeat and rinse.
    I’ve re-homed …but rehomed the good doggie that was my game dog 120% trained She just wouldn’t tolerate the snarky ass-hat behavior. I kept the ass-hat dog. my others do walk around the ass-hat. Placing the ass-hat would have been far more difficult and just seemed the wrong move. hard decision. really no right or wrong decision. I commend you for being open about it.

  18. We have two males who started as you describe Dex and TWoo. They escalated to serious, I-will-kill-you fighting. About $1000 in vet bills later (three serious fights requiring stitches within about three months), we decided we’d either have to rehome or contain. So, for the last three years, one of them is always crated. We trade them out every few hours. It’s not perfect and it’s a pain,but not as much of one as we used to have and we couldn’t bear to give one up. It’s been working thus far (and their animosity hasn’t lessened at all).

  19. Erm. Rough situation for sure.

    Okay, you asked for advice so I’ll give you my take.

    Dex is behaving appropriately (not picking fights) therefore he gets privileges. If you are going to contain anyone I would contain TWoo during the day and *tell* him it’s because he doesn’t behave around Dex. (He and Woo could share the space if seperating them would unduly stress the Woo.)

    Pippin had a nasty case of being nasty when he arrived here. (Remember the video I sent you?) He’s all good now. We got through it be granting my girls all the privileges of established pack members and getting on Pip’s case ruthlessly till he was being appropriate. Growling got him booted off the couch, snarking at the girls got him ignomiously dumped on the floor. Growling at Tony got him shoved off the bed at night and not allowed back up for a while. Want to snark over a tidbit that fell on the floor? Oops, none for you and you can go in your kennel while the girls get more! If he couldn’t behave he was ostracized until he made “make nice” signals. None of this was violent or “dominant”, it was just very pointed.

    I did the above for about two weeks — felt like a complete asshole the whole time — till he actually started turning around. It’s been uphill from there.

    If it’s TWoo picking the fights and being a dick I would give him the above routine in regards to his behaviour with Dex. *He* gets to earn the privilege of being with the group that Dex was already part of.

    He doesn’t have to like Dex, he does have to be civil. After all, isn’t that what you require of him when he’s out in public? It’s your house and you get to say who belongs, TWoo needs to respect that.

    My two cents. :-)

  20. The Food Lady says:

    Thanks for all the advice and personal stories folks, keep it coming. I am appreciating it all.

    I can’t crate anyone in the day – no, make that I WON’T crate anyone in the day. I would rather give one away than make either of them spend 11 hours a day in a crate. That is frequently how long I am gone for on a working day, and while I am a big fan of crates, I am no fan of locking a dog in one for hours and hours a day.

    The problem with social banishment for TWooie when he does not behave is that he doesn’t really respond to it. I suspect he’s been mainly an ornament in a past life and therefore he doesn’t have strong ties to the “pack” (family) as a whole, or even to me (in terms of my respect, happiness or anger etc.) He does have some serious possession / personal space issues, which he takes out on the dogs he feels he can bully, and the cats.

    Dexter is not totally innocent, as he has learned to hate TWooie and he will often instigate the teeth business. This is why I don’t think that castrating Dexter is the magic that will solve all our problems. I think it’s a personality issue, not a a hormonal one.

    Giving away TWooie, emotional ties aside, would be difficult because he is a dog with issues. Giving away Dexter is not even a tiny bit of an option, and in his own way is just as hard a dog to live with (for different reasons).

    I really do think that if Dexter would just kick the shit out of TWooie *one* time, it would go a long way toward resolving the tension. Dex is not really confident with other dogs and TWooie, who is terrified of other dogs and thus reactive, takes advantage of it. He also picks on the CATS, because he can.

    I do not want either of them to have to live in a house they are unhappy in. This is why I worry about their stress levels (Dex more than TWoo). If it ever gets to the point where they are seriously fighting with one another, I would definitely rehome TWooie. I can’t imagine trying to find the time to crate and rotate in my already super busy days.

    I dread the day Piper dies … she is the real boss of the household ;-)

  21. Sounds like a shitstorm, Food Lady. : ( If it were me I would do what Adrienne suggested for a little while, and absolutely keep them separate when gone (maybe forever) so they don’t (TWooie doesn’t) get to practice badness.

    Also, very glad Emmylou is doing well. She makes my heart sing. <3

  22. Gah, I wasn’t thinking crating, just seperating the house with gates while you are gone.

    The “you’re being socially unacceptable treatment”, at least what I did, was short short. Not “You are now banished to the crate for 20 minutes” more like “Get the hell out of my space if you can’t behave” for like 30 seconds. Pip came to me a very insecure, clingy dog so this worked.

    I would get on whomever’s case started the disagreement each time. And if the other dog kept their cool despite provocation I would heapeth rewards upon their deserving head. As well as rewarding the heck out of them whenever I noticed they were behaving nicely together.

    TWoo has come such a long ways already. What was it that worked teaching him not to lose his sh** over other dogs? Maybe you could adapt some of that to the situation with Dex?

  23. The other major factor in Pippin’s recovery has been a set of self relaxation exercises. Taught to him in a totally chilled space, then used anytime he got “over the top” and didn’t keep himself chilled out.

  24. Sheena, I feel for you and the situation with Dex and Twoo. I have the same problem with Bonnie & Beth. They hate each other, but have formed a truce – which is often tested when something stressful happens – like the other day when I stubbed my toe, screamed and suddenly the two of them erupted into a fur flying fight – and Beth was ripped up pretty badly – but they BOTH got in trouble by me. The time I was done with them that evening they were both very sorry. I turned into an enraged bear and bellowed at them as they were fighting and unwisely picked them both up and ripped them apart – tossing Beth across the room where she cowered. For the first time she did not dart past me and try to attack Bonnie again. The problem I have with my bitches drains me daily. I just keep them apart, thankfully my house is large enough that I can do that, usually. I am trying to make it abundantly clear that if the fur is to fly they will answer to ME. The thought of rehoming Bonnie has come to my mind MANY times. Beth was here first, I adopted Bonnie as a puppy after Beth & Ranger. I remember having a conversation with you about it on FB and you helped me tremendously. The quality of life is a huge consideration – if dexter’s quality of life is being impacted by Twoo’s presence in his home, it might be in their best interest to rehome Twoo. I know you will do what you feel is best – my thoughts are with you. It is not easy…I know.

  25. I have rehomed a dog before, and while I felt horribly about it at the time, the situation ended up being ideal for both the dog and me. I adopted a supposedly cat-tested dog from the shelter, and he demonstrated quickly that he very intensely wanted to kill my cat, to the point of obsessive fixation. My cat was hugely stressed, and the poor dog absolutely could not relax, since he could not think about anything other than the proximity of the cat. He was also quite prey-drivey around smaller dogs, very inclined to bite-hold-shake, which made him a really poor candidate for being out in public among other dogs. So he was a dog with issues, and his issues made him a tough fit in my family. After a ton of training, consultations with a behaviorist, medication, etc., I finally worked with a rescue and we found him a perfect fit of a home. His new people are sporty and bring him on lots of hikes and jogs, but otherwise, he hangs out at home with the family, does not have to interact with other animals (their lives are not that dog-heavy), and is very very happy. It’s a sort of standard pet home situation, and while I wouldn’t want that for many dogs, it’s a wonderful fit for him. I really do think that the right home is out there for every dog, even though that’s not always my home, you know?

    So sorry about TWoo and Dex.

  26. Bonnie, Beep and Poppet says:

    We were the recipients of a rehomed dog because of huge bitch fights. In the first home the girls were having ear piercing parities fairly regularly and with a child in the home, whom I think was around 8ish at the time, wasn’t very safe. The owner made the difficult decision to rehome the youngest girl. Meg, my daughter, got the dog and became a wonderful agility team earning a championship and competing in two nationals. There can be good from rehoming a difficult dog. Oh and we never had a fight, even when the pack got up to seven dogs, although we always added boys just because of history.

    For durning the day, when we were all at work, we split them up into groups. Nub the Jack in a giant crate, Rosie the Jack in an expen, Beep and Boss loose in my bedroom and Poppet loose in the main house. It worked very well and I didn’t have to worry about dogs picking on each other or Nub eating contraband food:)

    Never an easy decision! Good luck!

  27. I had the same problem with my two – although they are a bitch and a dog
    But my mild mannered boy who had never been in a fight in his life was suddenly in teeth flying matches with the hellcat!!
    He was the existing dog – she was the newcomer – but she had so many other issues I just couldnt find somewhere else to rehome her

    So i had to have a battle plan
    First they had limited access to each other for a few weeks – only fully supervised access and only when we were doing something fun
    So I walked them together, I trained them with lots of yummy food together
    The rest of the time there was an airlock system in place

    Then we allowed them both in the same room in the evening when they were both chilled
    Ben on the sofa and Mia on the floor – but ANY hard eyes involved the offender finding themselves launched into their crate before the look even became a lip curl

    Then finally some playing was allowed – but way before it got rough they were distracted with something else

    It was really hard work but actually didnt take that long – after the first week of me deciding ‘no more fights’ we have had 2 fights in the last 3 years – and even then they didnt mean it
    Now if Ben has something Mia wants instead of launching herself at him and demanding it she offers her best tricks in the hope he will reward her with it

  28. I have not re-homed a dog but not for lack of wanting to…. but our problem dog has too many problems to re-home, so we’re stuck managing his behavior and access. It’s a hard situation and sometime I think if you can find the right home for one of the dogs then it can be the right choice for everyone.

  29. 5 dog nights...and days! says:

    Jester is 12, Cutter is 6. Jester hates Cutter and even though Cutter would give all the passive signals Jester would not leave him alone. Cutter finally got sick of it and laid into Jester. After a Sunday emergency trip to the vet I figured it was time to keep them separate. I have a door dividing the house and manage them. Cutter, Copper and Spur sleep on the kitchen side. Jester and Shy sleep with us. We rotate who gets to be outside with us. Everyone has learned the routine and it is much calmer in the house. Yes it was a pain in the butt in the beginning but now it’s just second nature for everyone. It works. I wish you the best in figuring out the solution to your issue.

  30. I would still consider trying DAP. It’s made the difference between just the evil eye and full out attack in this house. I don’t think it works well in shelter settings because there is no “down time” they are ALWAYS stressed out. I think for DAP to be effective at all the animal has to feel some amount of relaxation. All the lavender in the world won’t help you relax when you are about to jump out of a plane. But it does when you’ve had a rotten day at work and come home.

  31. Ruth and Gibbs says:

    Lots of good suggestions, I can only add my experience. We had 3 dogs and 2 cats. When we added the 3rd dog, a boy who both the girls adored, Shoshone the Nutso started attacking Samantha the Sweetie. The Evil Orange Cat started provoking Shoshone, who would try to kill him.

    We lost Buzz to bone cancer in Oct/2008. The following spring we lost The Evil Orange Cat to old age. The difference in stress levels was immediate. No one ever snarked at anyone else over anything, ever.

    The social pressure of all 5 critters was too much for them, and for us. My choice, if pushed to it, would have been to euthanize Shoshone, because she was so damaged she could not be placed in another home. It didn’t come to that.
    Doing the rotation of space and absolute zero tolerance for any bad behavior might work. It’s the only type of thing that has any chance of working, IMO.

    It does seem you’ve got a pressure cooker. Rehoming your orange cat might help. Every little change in a pack adds pressure. Anything you can do to keep Dex and TWo from even thinking about going into it might also help.
    Hope you find something that works for all of you.

  32. And no prospects for new home for Spring yet?

  33. Can you set up a video camera while you are gone to see how Twooie and Dex behave when you are not there? Are the dogs inside all the time you are gone? If so, can you put Twooie and Dexter in different rooms?

    Gracie bullied Rio when I first got her, not because she hated him but because she was a bully and Rio let her. Eventually Rio had enough and after two fights, she got up from the second one in a submissive posture and they never fought again. Not sure it would be the same with Dexter and Twooie.

    Trish King also had me do the “dumb mommy” routine – whenever Gracie did anything negative towards Rio, even a look, I would take the short lead she was dragging and say “Oh, you want to go out?” and put her outside while I held the lead inside. This left her tethered on the other side of the door where she stayed for a minute or two (or until she was quiet if she complained) and then was let back in. Rinse and repeat. But you have to respond to every negative behavior and the “punishment” has to be something the dog doesn’t like and has to be done calmly and consistently. Others have said similar things and I think it can work but that is why videoing the dogs when they are alone would help. It won’t work if Twooie is bullying Dexter, even if only with looks, during the day.

    What a hard situation. Would the other dogs jump in if Dex and Twooie got in a serious fight? I gather Piper would intervene but would that calm or escalate things? Keep us posted and I will send “knock it off” vibes to Twooie.

  34. kt and Mitzi says:

    Hey Food Lady. Love you, love your herd, and I understand your frustrations. I know you’re uber strapped for time with everything you do, but would it be possible to get Twoo involved in CGC, obedience training, or another avenue where he learns to cope better? What about getting him a thundershirt? A gentle leader collar and keeping him closer to you?

    Now, for some behavior questions….can you identify what it is about Dex he doesn’t like? Is he growling to protect territory, you, a toy, or food? Dex may just need to establish himself against Twoo. If Twoo would be too reactive (rather than admit defeat if Dex stood up for himself), would a squirt bottle work? I find with my small herd that a distraction often helps. Sometimes I just need to give out treats constantly when everyone’s behaving quietly, or squirt whoever’s being a shithead, or some other corrective measure that’s quick. If Twoo is guarding something (or you), try taking it away, or making him further away from it, or giving it directly to some other dog. With so many animals, I don’t think clicker training would help much, but I could be wrong. Maybe Twoo needs something a little stronger than herbs? How about puppy pot? :D Joking aside, some animals just need some more serious chill pills (I know cats on prozac).

    With whatever you do, we love you and your animals, and understand that you try to do what you think it best for the dogs-both individually and as a family. So, while we may be upset with anything you do, we know you do it for love. So, as always, try to hold a firm chin with the nay-sayers and poopy-heads out there. Only YOU know what’s really up with the animals, and what may be best for them.

  35. Emma Berman says:

    I often threaten my cats with rehoming on Craigslist. Usually when ZombieCat is nibbling on my head in the morning to make me get up and feed him breakfast, or Jasper is showing his affection by gently nipping me in very sensitive parts (he likes it best when I sit with one knee up and one leg curled, so he can curl in the cook of my knee and have biting access to the insides of my thighs). Unfortunately, they’re all semi-damaged (though very sweet in their own ways) and the only one who would be the easiest to place is my “heart” cat — who I would never give up at all. Just the mere thought of getting rid of my other two cats, who I occasionally just don’t like (like when they vomit on my stuff, or eat my paperbacks — and then vomit on my stuff — or have weird skin conditions requiring expensive vet visits, or nearly die because of an undiagnosed hiatal hernia), makes me sad and weepy.

    I (and my family) have “rehomed” several dogs over the course of my lifetime. We gave our first dog — a big gray mutt I named “Stray” because that was what he was — to a neighbor after we had him for a couple of weeks; we gave our Sharpei to friends, who adored her and who she adored, when she hit retirement and senility age, and when we had to move to a new condo that didn’t allow dogs (…my mother is not much of an animal person, at all, so the fact that we even had a dog growing up is somewhat surprising to me), and I “rehomed” a middle-aged vallhund-mix that I had with me for 2 weeks on a trial period leading up to adoption; we really were not the right fit for each other at all. I wanted a dog I could train to be personal therapy dog for my often-times severe social anxiety; he wanted everyone to leave him alone and was quite growly/reactive about being handled in certain places, and I was so new to dog owning that I didn’t think I would be able to live comfortably with this dog.

    Fostering, as I’m sure you already know — and could even write the book on — is an emotionally draining experience that I think in many ways is akin to rehoming a dog. Depending on how long the dog has been with you, he or she becomes a part of the family. I’ve had exactly one dog (an absolutely wonderful 3 year old Chessie/chocolate lab mix) that made me wish I hadn’t already reached the maximum level of animals per my rental agreement; he was absolutely trustworthy in the house, quickly learned how to “zen” around my one dog-savvy cat (and was on his way to learning to ignore the other two who bolted when they saw him), was a joy to train, loved to snuggle, and while he did frighten me once with the level of his rambunctiousness, I suspect that level of rambunctiousness was an off-shoot of his not being allowed to exercise (he was on limited mobility because of a front leg injury). He was totally fine with being crated all day while I was gone (around 8-10 hours) and then he would just chill out with me (after a quick on-leash potty in my back area) and sleep uncrated in my bed/on the floor by me. Returning him to the shelter so he could go up for adoption was truly heart breaking for me.

    And then I got a series of small (5-10lb dogs) that I just hated with a passion. I treated them with love, of course, but I definitely didn’t get attached to any of them (and one of them turned me off puppies for good). Sending them back to the shelter was A-OK by me. I believe that you’ve mentioned in earlier posts about foster dogs that there were some where you threw a party after they left, and it’s always been my impression that these were dogs you had for upwards of 3 months; long enough, in my limited experience, to determine if you and the dog were a good fit.

    With Dex and Twoo — I know you won’t crate your dogs while you’re gone, but what about when you’re home? From what you posted, my understanding of your day is that you take Dex with you to work (but not the WooTWoo?) which gives Dex a chance to not deal with Twooie and vice versa. When you get home, can you do a bit of crate/rotate before bed? Dex gets to hang out during TV time, then Twooie gets to hang out afterwards for about an hour, etc?

    As for Mr. Orange — can you make him an outdoor cat? I know you intended him to be a barn cat, but can you just confine him to the outdoors with one of those outside cat houses to provide shelter/warmth during winter? It may solve the feeding issues you’ve been having (since he’d only have access to his portion of raw food) and your plastic bags would be safe. (The only other suggestion I have is to install those kiddy locks on all your cupboards; which I may have to do given that my cats routinely open the cupboard doors and then get themselves trapped inside/pull out all the treats and eat giant holes in the plastic to get to them.)

    Good luck, FL!

  36. Cathy, Che and Jeepers says:

    No kidding it’s a real pain to have tension in your home and to always have to be on your guard.
    When I was in a similar situation with two dogs who didn’t get along, I spent periods of time with a divider between them. I sat in a chair with a pile of food and just free shaped non-aggressive behaviour. I also trained one to touch the other dog with her nose, do play bows etc on command. This was sort of the theory that if you make yourself smile, you will feel happier. Eventually, walking them side by side on leash, they had a sort of break through and went through the rest of their lives tolerating each other.
    Every situation is different but some times if you can design an exercise which will chip away at their differences and make things easier, it is worth a try.

  37. I didn’t read every comment, but I did see someone mention crating Twoo in response to the bullying. This has made the greatest difference with my difficult dog. Norman is the kid on the playground that takes your lunch money; some dogs he absolutely LOATHES and my collies were walking around terrified.

    I know you said Twoo is not much bothered by crating/pack separation but it’s worth a try. It has made the biggest difference in our life, versus verbal corrections or startle techniques. When Norman postures, guards, stares, thinks about attacking or actually attacks, I calmly pick him up and place him in a crate (sometimes accompanied with a “HEY” to break it up if necessary, but I don’t say anything else). I think this is a much calmer approach and that has made a huge difference. That way, I don’t accidentally escalate anything. Plus, Norman’s stress response is aggression; he won’t generally aim it at me, but he’ll happily redirect onto a dog he hates. Keeping everything low-key seems to end the aggression faster.

    Norman likes his crate and tight spaces; he’s also an independent dog. But since this routine started, he does seem to be more conscious of his behaviors. We dog sat for a Labrador this past week; previously, if she got a toy, he would launch off of the couch and attack her. But he had ONE incident the entire time she was here this time.

    Also, I don’t tend to be overdramatic about testicles, but that’s probably not helping the situation, at the very least. Scorch really hated the dog at the desk next to us at work, and two weeks after the dog was neutered, they became best buddies. At the very least, it might decrease some of Twoo’s bullying intentions, if any of it is hormone/pheromone related (almost an automatic response; my boy immediately raises his hackles if he gets whiff of an intact male… he often settles in and ignores the other dog, but I do think there is an unconscious response happening with him). Dexter will take more time to recover from the bullying he’s received, but Twoo might well care a little less about Dexter’s presence.

  38. Not dogs, but we rehomed a cat once, and it was awesome. When Magoo lived with us, he was sad and whiny all the time. We joked that he must be a fundamentalist, because he disapproved of all music, laughter, fast motion, or merriment of any kind. He was really only happy if we were sitting still with him on the couch. But he didn’t want to be in your lap, only next to you on the couch. Touching leads to sinfulness.

    A friend decided that she really wanted to give a try giving him a quieter home (she lives alone and knits a lot). Now, he is Captain Hammerpants Magoo, and he loves everyone! She had a Christmas party last year and he hung out in the living room with everyone and listened to music (she says he especially appreciates Lady Gaga), and wanted everyone in the room to love him. It’s like he’s a totally different cat.

    We feel really good about the choice.

  39. Re: Mr. Orange — All I know is that if my sleep is interrupted when I’m planning on sleeping in, I’m irritable all day! As in *pissed off*!!!! So Mr. Orange had better hide…

    I’m sure all of this is heightened for you with your open-plan abode and country living. Can’t stick him in another room. Can’t exactly throw him outside in the dark. But cats tend to be harder to re-home.

    The best thing we ever did for Nikki (the border collie), for Gizmo, and for us was to work with her rescue organization to find her an only-dog home with a couple that likes to watch TV. We haven’t missed her and her neediness a bit, even after 3 years together. It just feels like things are the way they should be, and having her was a somewhat disturbing dream. But you love the Twoo, so no comparison.

  40. My neighbors tells a story of their cat growing up who tried the 5:30am thing. Subsequent 5:30am wakings were followed by the clipping of one cat nail – not inappropriately, the cat just did.not.like.it. I believe day 3 was the last time the cat made early morning noise.

    Based on Mr. Orange’s distaste for water, I suspect either a spray bottle of water, or a quick douse of water from the sink, would do the trick and involve less… woman-to-cat combat.

  41. Have you actually sat Two (and Woo, since he’d be affected too) down and told him that if he doesn’t start getting along better with Dexter that he/they will be rehomed? One time I had a 3yo bitch and added in a bigger, faster, stronger, more confident 4yo bitch. The two had done well enough for us to consider rehoming the 4yo with me at all, but I still was concerned due to the personality of the 3yo. I sat the new bitch down and told her in English that if the two of them ever started to fight so much that they had to be physically separated at all times that SHE (the 4yo) would be the one to be rehomed. The 4yo appeared to listen carefully, and the two dogs only squabbled a few times in the nearly 10 years they lived together.

    It can’t hurt, and it might help although I think you do have be committed to the follow-thru if necessary so the dogs will *get it*.

    Good luck.

  42. i can’t help but wonder whether you have a cat door installed into your bathroom door — otherwise i can’t understand how mr orange can scratch endlessly in his box there without one of the dogs coming in and nosing him out of the way to check on the deposit.
    i did have to rehome a cat once. and it was a cat that i had driven many miles to acquire — like, not just someone i brought home on impulse. anyhow, everything was all love and bliss between him and my female cat for a couple of years, and then a neighbours cat started spraying at the front door. (my cats were inside cats). well, that semed to flip some switch in my boy cat’s head, cuz after that he started stalking the female really aggressively, and attacking her if he got the chance. i divided the house in half with a see-thru wire door in the middle, and traded them back and forth into each side so that no one could get all territorial about one of the sides. this went on for a month or so until got up one nite and in my sleepyness didn’t make it thru the dividing door fast enough — the male slipped thru and went after the female with an obvious intent to kill. so that did it for me — just too much stress for us all. i loved them both, but decided that since this had become an obvious case of domestic abuse, the abuser was going to have to go. and he was soooo happy in his new home — he just loved being an only cat, and his new lady carried him around on her shoulder for the rest of his life.

    i think your space might be a bit too crowded for so many strong personalities to co-exist peacefully.

    i know you love them all. so i know you will figure out what is best for all. remember to include yourself in the equation.

  43. RE TWoo – is there a chance the two of them could get a job at a golf course/neighboring farm, a few days a week… say chasing geese/rabbits off while you are at work? Clearly would have to be with someone you trust, but… search on “Lucky the Dog Lives a Charmed Life Chasing Geese Off the Pebble Beach Golf Course” maybe there’s someplace between home and one of your jobs that would work.

    Seems like if TWoo were to get out of the house while your gone at least some of the time, it might knock the edge off the tensions, wear them out, and let you focus on agility with Tweed and Dex. Golf courses should be free of other dogs, and fenced. What I don’t recall is how those two are with people in open spaces, so maybe this doesn’t work.

  44. I had to go back and read this before thinking about what you have said: http://www.theotherendoftheleash.com/category/hope I could try to re-word what she says but I think she says everything there is to say about this situation.

    I would re-home a dog or a cat if I felt it was the right thing to do. They shouldn’t have to live together if they make each other miserable. Only you know if you or they are miserable about living together. Whatever your decision I think the vast majority of your readership will support you.

  45. I have no advice on two but for the Mr. Orange. Get a squirt bottle of 10% vinegar and 90% water. Mix and spray whenever you catch him doing things you don’t like. I am not a fan of conditioning like this but I had a cat just like you meowing and go on and waking me up at all hours. I now have a normal cat that has been trained boundaries.

  46. Vinegar is caustic. We use a water squirt bottle in training where I volunteer but never vinegar. The veterinarian said vinegar can eat the tissues of the eyes.

  47. Nothing wrong with rehoming if everyone is happy with the result. But I couldn’t give up either Twooie or Dexter if I were you, so don’t bother with that line of thought.

    I do like the suggestions about reducing other forms of stress in the home though. Rehome the cat, definitely. I see a great future for him in someone’s barn. Try the DAP, get Dexter neutered, etc. And cool it with the fostering until you get this problem licked. I know that’s not easy, but in your situation I would not sacrifice my own dogs core quality of life for the sake of J. Random Dog-In-Need.

    Definitely don’t assume you know whose fault any given incident is. Even someone as skilled at reading dogs as you can still read them wrong, or, more likely, miss a signal when your back was turned. So I don’t especially like the suggestions that focus on the dog “who caused the problem.”

    I did like Pam’s suggestions about keeping them separate (defined as so far apart that neither dog is showing any sign of awareness of the other, which you can do even in a small space with crates or gates coupled with visual barriers) and creating a few very short, heavily managed fun events for them in the same space each day, then building up from there but never past the “hard eyes” point. Positive has got to be a better approach than negative here, when there is already so much negativity in the air.

    If all else fails, I will come and kidnap Twooie, but I might leave you Kepler instead, so that is not exactly a solution.

    And now for some other comments. Awesome news about Emma. And the snow picture is hilarious with all the herding dogs staring hard to your left and obviously wanting to break, except Dexter, who has eyes only for you :)

  48. Prozac for TWooie. I honestly think it would make a huge difference to the comfort level of your whole house. The bulllying “just because he can” is a classic sign of generalized anxiety — and you already know he’s anxious.

  49. There is a lot of information out there by qualified behaviorists and trainers on managing multiple dog homes, so I would defer to these. You know who they are – Karen Overall, Patrician McConnell, the usual suspects … I have three dogs in my home who don’t love each other but mostly get along peacefully, but I know I have a devil of a time understanding what just happened, and am never really confident that I understand what happened when there are squirmishes – despite volumes and volumes of behavior study and consultations and videos and …. I just know it’s pretty hard for me sometimes to identify who is to blame, it usually takes behaviourists watching a video over and over to accurately sort this stuff out. I believe it is often, if not always, both, even though one dog might be more “appropriate” than another.

    But I would also put out there that TWooie has some anxiety issues that may require more serious intervention, i.e. drugs and behaviour modification. You have come a LONG way with him, and should be hugged for that. BUT I would hazard a bet that Relaxation Protocol would be helpful framework for him to get through life, and possibly a little pharmacological help, too.

    My two cents …

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