I wrote this post last night, about half an hour after the boys got into their first (and hopefully last) fight…
I’m not going to filter this, it scared the crap out me (OK, fine, I filtered the words I really wanted to use there). They had a few verbal scuffles when Jake first joined the family but this was much different. Despite the fear and the weird panic mode my body normally goes into if there is any chance the dogs are experiencing anything but pure joy, I remained calm. Both dogs are OK, most of the blood seemed to be mine.
I had given both boys Kongs. (It was a slow introduction to treats when together but they have been doing great for two months now; they are even known to switch Kongs mid chewing of them). Melvin has been trained to bring empty Kongs to the sink and when he does, he gets a treat. Up to last night, Jake would follow/watch Melvin and I’d have them both sit then I’d treat them both. Tonight was the very first night that Jake brought me his own Kong (the one he gets during the day from the dog walker). I of course treated them both and then we did dinner. I gave them their after dinner Kong, which they both ate and then were both just hanging out. When I stood up to go to the kitchen, Melvin bent down to get his empty Kong (as he has done at least 100 times in front of Jake). Jake was about two feet away, near his own empty Kong. As Melvin mouthed his own Kong, Jake lunged at him. Actually, Jake may have taken flight.
Jake was fully committed to this fight. Melvin on the other hand was reserved, moving out of Jake’s bite way. It was only a matter of seconds but it was enough to see I had two different reactions going on, Jake was determined to fight and Melvin was determined not to. Melvin didn’t run away, he stood his ground, he barked and made noises that sounded a lot like ‘calm the bleep down’ but he never issued a bite move. I had to pull Jake off/away from Melvin, I’m sure I didn’t do this properly. Once apart I put Jake into a sit (Melvin instinctively followed suit). A long, silent sit. I willed my heart to start beating again and then, I let it go.
There are a few things I think worked in our favor:
- Jake’s mouth does not open all that wide. He can barely fit the small end of a medium size Kong in his mouth, he usually has to roll it. Also, Jake’s teeth are small and flatish. I know he could clamp down and I have no doubt his jaw could lock onto an item and cause damage but his open/shut biting is not like Melvin’s. The damage that Jake inflicted was more surface scratches, some of it may have even been caused by his nails.
- Melvin didn’t engage. I have seen Melvin react to dogs who are off leash while Melvin is on leash and I 100% know that his bite would have meant significant injury for Jake.
- I somehow went into ‘you’ve got this mode’.
Moments after the incident, the boys were laying down close to one another and both drifted off to sleep. I looked at them both and felt tremendous love. Challenges are meant to be overcome, that is how unconditional love works. This was my first dog fight, EVER and I know it wasn’t even close to the worst dog fight. I have NEVER heard noises like that before. I don’t want them to fight. I hope they won’t fight again. But this is dog ownership. I will make changes to set them up for future/continued success.
Sh!t happens. Move forward. Check, check. (Oh, and thank you wine. I love you.)