Dog Fight

Madeline & Boomer relaxingTwo weeks ago, Madeline & Boomer had their 2nd fight ever.

I had gotten up to go to the kitchen for some plain yogurt to add to their dinner, & so everyone was slightly excited at the suggestion of food.   They all got up to follow me, & Madeline & Boomer jostled each other in the doorway.

Madeline’s high strung; she’s always been that way.   Boomer’s still intact & that week had been overly attentive to Chie.   Chie simply ignores him, but simply knowing he’s in a flirty mood causes Madeline to feel uncomfortable, so she had been giving him warning looks for a few days.

Despite being significantly bigger & more energetic, Boomer defers to Madeline, & in the past she’s snapped at him & he ducks away.   This time, because they were squeezed next to each other in the doorway, he couldn’t really duck, or he might have ducked & bounced his head off the door frame back at her.   Whatever it was, they were at it just a few feet behind me.

Chie was distraught & crying; I put her outside to keep her safe.   I tried to order the fighting dogs off each other in a calm tone.   When they once separated, I tried to step in, which resulted in a dog’s face profile shaped bruise on the inside of my right thigh the next day.

Ear damageProbably only a minute or two had elapsed.   I grabbed Boomer’s hind legs & dragged them to the end of the hallway where the trellis door was.   I separated them by closing the trellis door on their faces, although not before Madeline got a good grip on Boomer’s ear.   On opposite sides of the door, Boomer was screaming in pain trying to get his ear back & I couldn’t get Madeline to let it go.   He got his ear back from her, but not without her slicing right through his ear for a little over 2 inches.

Once separated, Boomer made several high pitched barks at Madeline, who just stood silently on the other side of the door.   Neither of them were still attempting to get at each other; to me, Boomer’s barking sounded hurt, not angry or even scared.

His entire left side was red & I couldn’t tell where he was bleeding from.   I had to get him into the shower so I could rinse him off.   He had some nasty gashes on his left foreleg, but the serious damage was to his ear.   The cartilage was split right through; if I didn’t hold it just right it would instantly fold backward.

Madeline, punctureMadeline’s wounds were significantly fewer.   She had a ton of superficial gashes & a single bad puncture on her back.   In both fights, it seemed to be that Madeline fought in a frenzy, because she is fearful.   Boomer’s attacks were more strategic, aimed at immobilizing her rather than just tearing at whatever was in reach.   Ironically, both times Madeline came out in worse shape than Boomer.

I tended to both dogs’ wounds with peroxide & Neosporin & gave them each 2000mg of Cephalexin.   Madeline’s puncture I washed & squeezed, trying to remove any extra fluid under the skin.   Boomer’s ear was worrisome; I applied pressure off & on for 5 hours & could only get it down to a slow drip.

My dogs fighting are my worst nightmare.   It took me 4-5 tries to get my parents on the phone because my hands were shaking so badly.   I took photos of the wounds for my dad to look at in case any looked like they needed stitches, which I was told they didn’t.   The cartilage tear, he said, couldn’t be stitched without worrying about doing worse damage.

Both dogs were friendly to each other through the screen door within minutes after being cleaned up, but I put Madeline & Chie in the living room for the night, keeping Boomer with me so I could watch his ear.

Madeline scratchingThe next day Madeline’s puncture looked great; new white tissue was already filling in, there was no scent of infection or pus or heat.   She was starting a little pocket of fluid under the skin, but it wasn’t sensitive & there didn’t appear to be any cellulitis.

Boomer’s ear looked like crap, although the bleeding had settled down.   The entire ear swelled up & he kept trying to flap it, giving up the next day when it became too swollen.   I kept applying pressure to it with a peroxide soaked paper towel as instructed, to get the swelling down in the hope of avoiding cauliflower ear.

Our trainer from Sit Means Sit coached me on reintroducing them; I seated Boomer outside in the back yard, then brought Madeline out & seated her next to him.   Both dogs’ body language even from seeing each other through the screen door was relaxed – tail down, ears down, little to no eye contact.   They remained relaxed seated next to each other & we just hung out that way for several minutes.   I talked to them calmly for awhile, praised both of them, & then released them to wander the back yard.

I did have to instruct Boomer to ease up a little on the butt sniffing because Madeline looked mildly uncomfortable with it, but the reintroduction seems to have been a success.   Everyone was able to sleep together that night.

Doggy togaMadeline’s abscess remained painless & suddenly drained one day, & it began to itch.  She actually freaked out because I think she thought something was on her back, & spent the day trying to hug me even as I walked places, shoving me sideways everywhere I went.   I felt horrible having to leave for band practice that night, but she seemed to have come to terms with things the next day.

She managed to scratch a fairly large patch of infected skin, which regular peroxide & Neosporin didn’t help.   A large, rigid scab of stinky pus formed, which I ended up having to dissolve in the shower with warm water.   What was underneath was ugly (see the photo above), but superficial.   My friends suggested putting a shirt on her to keep her from scratching, but I couldn’t find anything she looked comfortable in, so I tore up an old bedsheet & wrapped her in it.   It doesn’t stay in place perfectly, but it is keeping her from scratching.

Boomer’s ear has been getting better, but very slowly.   Oddly, the nasty cartilage split doesn’t seem to pain him except when I peroxide it.  He is back to flapping his ears, which I wish he wouldn’t, but I guess it can’t be helped unless I tape his ear to his head.

Boomer's ear healingI’m still applying pressure daily to his ear.   I just hold it between 2 palms with a peroxided paper towel.   He lets me do that for a few minutes, but that seems to be enough.   The swelling is minimal & the tear is slowly getting shorter.   I’m amazed at the lack of infection, especially since I’ve caught Chie licking his ear several times.

All of Boomer’s other injuries healed up without incident.

For the time being, Madeline hangs out in the living room when I am gone.   Chie & Boomer are in my bedroom area together.   I think it’s easier on Madeline’s overall stressload toward Boomer to not be stuck in close quarters with him when I’m not there.   They end up doing their bathroom & zoomie rituals separately when I return, but by the time they see each other, they are calmed down & in the right frame of mind to socialize.

So, the healing continues.   Our trainer said that the occasional spat will occur in multi-dog households, including his.   It’s good to know that this isn’t the end of the world, which is what it feels like when it happens.   This is the 2nd fight they’ve ever had in 3 years, & I’d love to think it’s the last, but if another one happens, I’ll be ready.

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