Crazy year; I’ve been home as much as I can, but it never seems like enough. Boomer’s started howling when I leave, & although it’s never for more than 60 seconds or so, someone anonymously reported me to the Humane Society, saying they heard a dog “moaning” in my house. Horsefeathers, seriously, but frankly Boomer does sound pretty agonized. It’s just that it’s not due to animal cruelty.
The HHS officer who called me said he just needed to come by & examine my dogs to make sure they were ok. I gave him a time window & he never showed. I emailed him a video of Boomer howling in response to a distant ambulance siren. And then I never heard from him again. I guess he decided to move on to cases with more plausible validity.
Two 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.
In my first post I mentioned my Basenji, Jack. I rehomed Jack with one of my friends (where he is flourishing & very happy) because he couldn’t get along with my 2 American Bulldogs, & it nearly cost him his life. It certainly cost him a lot of blood & over 20 stitches. He almost died.
I don’t blame my ABs. For the most part I blame myself. But there were qualities in Jack that made him the incompatible one. Boomer & Madeline were not the aberrant dogs; Jack was. And I think a lot of it was due to his origins.
Jack was my first dog. I didn’t know what backyard breeders were, & when I drove out to Makaha I excused the tiny, foul-smelling yard full of barking Basenjis & the fact that the 4-month-old pups had never been in a house before. The breeder was a very sweet old woman named Dody, & she very proudly told me that she fed her dogs only the best: Pedigree something or other; I’d learned enough about catfood quality to know that certain dogfood brands were not even to be considered, & Pedigree was one of them.
I ignored all this. I wanted to see the puppies.
Lately I’ve been worried about my friend’s dog, who, for the last few months, has been living tethered in a garage every day for several months. Originally he lived in a house with her & her boyfriend, but when they split up, her living situation changed & no fenced yard or enclosure is available any time soon.
In the old living situation, he was at ease with people, & although he did have a few canine rivalry-type run-ins with other dogs, overall he was a happy, obedient dog. Since being tethered all the time, he’s become vicious to the point of biting a child who snuck into the garage to play with him.
There are a bunch of other factors to his change of behavior; the entire loss of stability must be overwhelming. He must feel overly protective of his gentle female owner now that they are without her boyfriend who not only spent most of his time with the dogs but was also extremely strict & structured. He must miss the other dogs, & he must hate being alone all day until she comes home from work.
Recently I came randomly across an article stating that chained dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite. The idea of tethering being psychologically damaging to a dog is corroborated in several more articles:
Tonight while I was at work I got a call from Lorraine, who lives next door, about my dogs. She was hysterical. According to her, Boomer was barking & she needed to sleep by 10pm (it was 10:24) & she was fed up & she was going to call the Humane Society. She said that he’s dangerous & if I thought a little wire (see Boomerproofing) was going to keep him from getting over the wall it was not. She said that he caused her all kinds of anxiety & she couldn’t even walk around in her back yard nor could she let her grandkids play in the back yard because she is scared of him. She ranted about being a homeowner, & having rights… & then she seemed to run out of gas & began mumbling. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t making words, just weird sounds. I tried to get a word in, but she kept mumbling incoherently. Then she hung up.
This was the first time I’d heard of a barking problem, & it seemed odd, since Boomer’s not really much of a barker. Lorraine had called me a few days before to let me know that one of her tenants (she rents out rooms) had seen Boomer get his head wedged between the wire canopy (again, see Boomerproofing) at the corner of the wall. I thanked her for letting me know & took care of it the next day by placing one of the green Opala carts (see the picture, below) in the corner so Boomer can’t even approach the corner. I’ve been looking around for a suitable 4′ – 6′ potted plant to put in that corner, because that’s frankly all it would take to keep him from jumping in that specific spot.
A few days ago on Facebook I saw a photo of what looked like a little dog sleeping, wrapped in a red blanket. I read the attached story, & it turns out that it was a 7-yr-old Blue Heeler named Cisco, who had been shot to death by an Austin police officer who had surprised Cisco & his owner while they were playing frisbee, menaced the owner, then shot Cisco when Cisco reacted with alarm.
Since then, his bereaved owner, Michael Paxton, has created a Facebook page called Justice for Cisco. He says that his aim is not to persecute the APD but to spread awareness so that this kind of tragedy doesn’t keep happening. As a dog owner, I totally support this. It’s terrible to think that some cop can randomly charge into my home for no reason, shoot my dog, & then yell at me about it. I have a lot of friends in HPD & I’d love to think of them as our protectors & heroes, not as rabid murderers. When things like this happen, though, how can one feel safe?
Still doing well. She snapped at him once last week – it was my fault; I had created a situation that had her anxiety & excitement up.