What a sad situation. It had started so well. Both dogs had been walked together several times before bringing Yoko home and they had got on well.
What the lady hadn’t been told was that not only did Yoko have a bad ear infection, but in addition to a skin problem she was also in season. So, here was a very stressed dog trying to adapt to home life after nine months in rescue with physical problems as well.
Alaska, the most polite and confident dog with people who you can imagine, was only castrated recently. Yoko presented herself to him and he started to do what male dogs do. Unfortunately he has a bad hip problem and he will have been in pain also. Things were stacked up against them.
Anyway, the outcome was a sudden angry response from Yoko as she tried to escape, followed by the same from Alaska and at the same time he must have grabbed her face. There is a big discrepancy in the two dogs’ size and possibly because of her baggy skin, what may otherwise have been a puncture wound was a tear, probably caused when they were pulled apart. She has a good number of stitches.
The lady has a £400 vet bill and got off to a very bad start with her new rescue dog.
The final really sad thing about this is that the lady, a very conscientious and caring person who chose the two dogs specifically for their seemingly calm temperament in the kennels and not their breed, worries that she may never be able to trust them together again. She is now so anxious that she keeps the dogs apart unless Alaska is muzzled.
Alaska himself had been in rescue for over a year before she adopted him last year. He has a few problems which we will work on, including marking in certain parts of the house and being a bit of a bully with off-lead dogs.
There are some very positive things also.
Because she has two children, the young lady has always played very safe. She gradually taught Alaska to welcome wearing a muzzle just in case it was ever needed – it’s a bit too big and he looked so comical I had to take the photo.
She is a gentle person and the household is calm. Alaska is a quietly confident dog. When I arrived he was lying in the hall and I simply walked past him.
Both dogs showed no animosity to one another and although they are now let outside separately, they walk past each other with no reaction.
At the moment Yoko is very uptight. Understandably. When she joined us and a muzzled Alaska in the sitting room, she l ay with her back to us for much of the time. I then suggested we put Alaska on lead and removed the muzzle. When Yoko was walking about, the only sign of any trouble between the two was when Alaska sniffed her bum and she growled softly.
When the three guinea pigs that are kept in a large cage in the kitchen got active, Yoko became extremely agitated. She began to pace, cry and stress. It takes her a long time to calm down again.
The eleven-year-old daughter did some great calming work with Yoko that I showed her, reinforcing her whenever she sat, lay down or settled.
Whether or not Yoko stays will depend upon how she turns out when she settles in and what behaviours come to the fore. She has so many new things to adjust to.
Whether or not she stays will depend upon how the two dogs get on once her season is over and her body healed.
Whether or not she stays will also depend upon whether the young lady, who lives alone with the two children, ever feels she can relax again and leave the two dogs together – her house is quite small. She got another dog to be company for Alaska.
If Yoko can’t stay, she won’t be abandoned back to the rescue. The young lady, bless her, has already decided she will get their permission to find the dog she already loves a good home – but not until she is fully healed and is in much better physical condition.
A week later it became apparent that Yoko was already pregnant. She had two puppies and the story goes on. The lady has managed the situation with Yoko and Alaska beautifully and they get on fine. However, she couldn’t find homes with people she felt she could trust for the two puppies so she still has them. Life is hard but she is doing her very best in difficult circumstances.
NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Yoko and Alaska, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dogs (see my Get Help page).