one of the issues with housing multiple dogs with ever changing populations and personalities is the occasional fight.
Carol · Mar. 16, 2009
it is not really that we have too many dogs right now...cuz we have had more. i think there are currently 25 saints dogs plus my personal four (which get the whole living at saints thing as well as their mom does.) it is more the mix of dogs we have right now...it is a difficult mix. we have dogs that can't go here, dogs that have to be there, dogs who can be with so and so but not with someone else. i don't pre-assess whoever i decide to take in...either we have room and can help them or we can't and the specifics get figured out once they get here and we get to know them. i don't want to turn my back on them just cuz maybe they ain't so easy.
i get in dogs who are biters but don't bite here. i get in dogs who are good with cats, but here they are not. i get dogs like chyna who have issues with other dogs...and i don't see too many issues with her now..she gets along very well. all histories i take with a grain of salt because what someone else considers a problem, i might not. sometimes it is the home they are in, sometimes it is just feeling at odds, sometimes it is simple lack of knowledge or understanding that colors the histories they come with.
once in a blue moon i will go and meet them first if i have a real concern, and once or twice i have said no to these dogs because i knew coming here would be a disaster.
but dogs like 4lane who can be sweet but also a jerk, or dusty who guards her MP room from most dog intrusions as well as jesse did, or the new jesse who despite living with a family cat...actually SUCKS with cats, lucky with her blind lumbering ways who takes offence as soon as one of the others yell at her in frustration....their needs become apparent once they get in our gate. and i don't have a choice then to send them back to where ever it is that they came from..,..too late they are now our saints.
and so we adjust and we manage and we keep our eyes well focused on the bouncing doggy personality balls.
al got into a fight today. he was left in the big dog room with cleo, fiona, shrek, copper and andy....we think it was shrek who was his sparring partner, but we aren't really sure. anyway, al's feelings are hurt and he has a couple of punctures on his leg. i cleaned them up and stuck him on antibiotics propholactically.
so this brings me back to the difficult mix here...we have got to be on top of what dogs are where and when. and it has to be a purposeful effort when returning from field runs to put the dogs back immediately into the areas that they actually belong in... and before we get distracted by other things. this is what keeps them safe.
we also have to learn to really see and feel the animals around us and what is happening with them. if i had been more aware of the stress building up with fluke and shrek because of coppers having a freaking food fit, i could have stepped in and done something to lower the stress BEFORE they started redirecting and reacting to that annoying little pain in the ass freaking beagle.
living communally and peacefully with 80 cats and dogs in various areas is not the easiest thing to accomplish. BUT...we acheive a higher degree of success if we pay attention, focus on THEM not each other or tasks or how tired we are. i usually have second sight and eyes in the back of my head which is why normally we really don't have very many actual fights.
lately with all of the new incoming and the struggles with money, workloads, various issues and just plain figuring things out, i haven't really been as on the ball with the animals as i should be. and i know it is a process of about 3 months to fully settle new admissions in, taking in more than half a dozen lately was not the best idea.
anyway...problems identified...moving on to interventions and solutions....
there are white boards in each area now with the names of who belongs in there.
i will do up a master one for the kitchen for easy quick reference of all of the areas.
and i ask both staff and volunteers when they are here to try to block out all of the noise and all of the chaos and all of the distractions and hard, hard work for a few seconds every once in awhile just to FEEL and see what the animals around them are actually doing and how they are feeling and if they need things to settle down into quiet and stable predictability for a little while so they can feel secure.