Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Difficult Situation

In our family, we have 2 dogs.  Beaugart, the Shi-Tzu was an impulse buy for me in 2003 when I was a sophomore in college.  He is my first baby and has been with me through everything.  He and Jer bonded pretty quickly after we all moved in together in 2005 (after a little man-to-man-who's-in-charge tousling).  He is such an easy going dog; friendly, easy to potty train, great with kids, allergen free.  Awesome little guy.
Then, there's Bixby.  The beagle mix that we adopted after we got married in 2007 (and no, we did not give her that name).  She was a true test of our marriage.  The most bullheaded-eat-everything-I-can-find-what?-I'm-not-supposed-to-poop-in-the-house-oh-you-wanted-that-roll-of-toilet-paper-in-tact? dog.  Our friends, Lindsay and Patrick, who had a beagle of their own swore that she would calm down one a day and be the most amazing pet.  And they were right.  She is the most loyal little lady. 
And the two of them were our babies.  Beaugart sleeps in bed with us every night and Bixby (who we affectionately call Sissy) curls up on the dog bed next to us.

When we brought Isla June home from the hospital, Jer was the first one to rush through the door and introduce our 2 little kids to their new sister. And all was well. The dogs loved Isla June, and she loved them right back.
But more recently, things have not been as perfect. 
 Sissy does not like the condo.  She misses her backyard, she misses chasing squirrels, she misses Jeje.  And lately, she does not love Isla June.  I'm not sure exactly what it is.  Maybe the high pitched squeal of, Sissssseeeee that reverberates through the condo as Isla June runs full force to the dog.  Or it's the fact that sweet baby girl has taken to slowly backing up into the dogs and then sitting on them.  Either way, I think all of the food the canines get from said baby should make all of these grievances nullinvoid.
 
Last week, Sissy bit the baby.  Out of nowhere.  It didn't break the skin, but there were the remnants of two teeth marks on her nose and one on her chin.  And there was a lot of crying.  And a sad little beagle sitting in time-out in the gated kitchen.  ugh.  why did this have to happen?  Out of nowhere, too. 
Of course, my first thought is the safety of my (human) child.  I don't want her to be injured or scared of dogs (this last fear was unfounded as Isla June frequently visited Sissy while she was in kitchen time-out.)  Jer and I brainstormed what to do- have someone else (a family member) take sissy until we can get into a house and she can be happier, get a muzzle for Sissy, keep the dog and baby separated at all times, etc.  It turns out no one was in the position to take the dog (totally understandable) so we decided to just keep them apart.  (I want to point out that giving the dog away was our absolute last, worst case scenario.  We knew that she would be deemed an unadoptable dog and probably put to sleep.)  So,  Sissy sat in the kitchen for the next two days.  She didn't get any treats/snacks from the baby and she didn't get to lay on her nice, plush dog couch either.  And she was miserable.  I was hoping that she would understand her punishment.  After two days, and a shown improvement in mood, I gingerly allowed Sissy to sit in the living room with us under close supervision.  And she did much better.  There was one growling incident, which caused her to be relegated to time-out again; after which, I think she got the point.
Now, things have improved so much.  There's lots of positive reinforcement for Isla June and Sissy when they interact and constant supervision when they are together.  So far, so good. 
For us, the time and effort into attempting to fix this situation was very important to us.  The last thing we wanted to do was to break-up our little family.  With diligence, consistency and love I hope that we can put this all behind us.

3 comments:

  1. My dog isn't the best with kid's either, so I'm glad to hear that the behavior can definitely be improved. Best of luck!!

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  2. It's tough when a human baby comes along, after the dogs have been your "babies".

    I have to watch my Yorkie around little kids. He seems a bit snippy after a visiting toddler tried to pick him up, and accidentally hurt him in the process :( Tiny kids just don't realize that they are hurting the pets, when they are just trying to love on them.

    Glad to hear that everyone is getting along better :)

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  3. Yes, it's surprising how their personalities can change after a particular incident (whether it's a move or an encounter with a too tough toddler!). I've spoken with a friend who had a similar incident in her house, and after having a dog trainer intervene, it seems like a lot of this is a bit of a dominance thing. We definitely are on our toes now!

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