How quickly things can change

ImageMy apologies for not updating this blog sooner but it has been a fraught and stressful week for all concerned.

I mentioned a fight with Rocky and Donkey on the first day which was sort of what was expected in order to establish pack leader between the two of them.  Things were not too bad after, they even enjoyed some games on the lawn and had heated discussions about local bitches over the dog biscuit – you know the sort of thing.

However, things took a very different turn in a couple of rather worrying ways and it was decided on Wednesday 16th February by SAFE and myself that Donkey had to be removed from the house.

As some of you may have been aware, we were trying to get Donkey used to Gordon the cat.

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Gordon – King of his castle

Gordon was sitting on the chair when Donkey first walked in the house and Donkey  immediately went to attack him, so we pretty much knew straight away that Donkey was not safe to be left with Gordon or even have him in the same room unrestrained.  Now upsetting though that was, it was good in a way because no chances were ever taken with the two of them, as you can imagine had we left them for even a second; what could have happened.

So Donkey was having controlled sightings of Gordon as in he was in the laundry room behind a 1 metre high baby gate.  Although Gordon was calm and showed no fear against Donkey, Donkey on the other hand would almost have a ‘brain switch’ that flipped him into the ‘cat zone’ and he would ignore all other stimuli as in clicker/treat/voice command and would totally fixate on Gordon to the point he tried to push the gate down to attack him.

We had plans to shut Gordon away each time Donkey was walked but how realistic is that? How safe is that when all it would take is for one of us to forget and walk Donkey through the house on a leash and the fact that Gordon likes dogs, if this elderly cat walked up to Donkey, we would have very little chance of stopping him attacking the cat.

We thought of keeping Donkey outside but how fair is that if Rocky enjoys an indoor life? Donkey needed to be part of our family unit and keeping him as an outdoor dog would not only be unfair on him, but we would still have the issues for the next few years of Gordons life, watching our every step and move to ensure this Jack Russell/Staffie cross did not attack our precious ginger parcel that had flown all the way from the UK in order to get here.

Donkey the mountain goat

Whilst at first I felt confident that Donkey could not jump the baby gate, the little dog surprised me when I found him perched on top of the BBQ the day after I got him, peering over the top of the gate – the BBQ being much higher than the baby gate inside and he obligingly showed me how he could almost jump vertically like a mountain goat and comfortably perch himself on the highest point.  You could almost hear him bragging about his jumping ability which I must admit, was rather impressive.

He also enjoyed doing the same with the garden patio table so this added to my concerns that if he really wanted to, keeping in mind his total fixation of getting Gordon to the point he hears and sees nothing else or no other command, all doubts that he couldn’t jump the baby gate had now been blown out of the water – he could and he could do so efficiently which now meant that he couldn’t be left in the laundry room if Gordon was in the the living area which would in turn mean Gordon had to be shut away in the ‘cat room’ and that was also cruel.

The Achilles heel of Rocky

My Rocky has hip dysplasia and a weak patella joint caused according to our vet, by ‘blunt trauma’ as in a possible kick to the hips when he was a baby.  He has 4 monthly injections to help him and occasional pain relief.  His hip has been known to give way if he does off the leash exercise of if people throw toys/balls for him and the hip joint swivels/twists/turns.

So Rocky’s hip management is crucial to his future as we have been advised that he is not the best candidate for surgery so we have to look after him as best we can, limit injury potential and really take care of him to make him have the longest possible life.

Anyway, we noticed that Donkey had started to bite Rockys hind legs – not mark them or even enough to visibly bother Rocky but whilst it was amusing to watch initially, it became a game for Donkey to bite the hind legs, and latch onto his rear end and bring him down to the floor and because Rocky’s hip is so weak, he spent more time on the floor than he did anything else.  It was rather bizarre to watch – Donkey gripping Rockys legs and wrestling him to the ground – see photo below taken just before Rocky fell to the ground which on the face of it looked quite funny but after a few goes, Rocky’s hip had indeed paid a high price for such hierarchal canine games.

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On Tuesday night when I got home, my husband told me that Rocky was lame and when I checked him myself, his hip had slipped out of joint and he was unable to get up from the floor and when he did, he was literally hobbling about on three legs.

I had decided that night to keep Rocky inside away from Donkey but when I carried Rocky outside to go to the toilet, he refused to go.  I don’t even think it was because he disliked Donkey but more the association of Donkey+Play=Pain kind of thing, or perhaps Donkey intimidated him in his battle to be top dog, – who knows?  The play had certainly become more aggressive as each day went on and that was obvious.

After a long discussion with my husband and also Sue at SAFE, it was decided that the energy match of Donkey and Rocky was not suitable, Rocky according to our vet, is a somewhat ‘special needs’ dog with his hips and a young dominant male dog is probably not the best companion for a kelpie with hip issues and no hope of ever keeping up or defending his patch.

But the real deciding factor was Gordon because Sue was right, if there is any risk of Donkey killing Gordon then it is a risk not worth taking and the thought of spending the next few years of Gordons life with the comfort and mental welfare of both animals being compromised to keep one from being attacked or killed is overwhelming and daunting. Because if anything did happen to Gordon – I for one would not be able to forgive myself and not only did Gordon deserve the right to live in his own home, but so did Donkey and the barriers that would need to be installed in order for that to happen – would not be realistic or possible.

The next day Sue had organised for Donkey to go to a lovely foster carer in Fremantle, we met at my house and Donkey said goodbye with a damp and smelly beard and trotted off with his new foster ‘mum’ without a care in the world and as he went, I swear I could hear him say ‘Hey, you’re pretty, fancy showing me around Freo some time?’ in true flirtatious Donkey fashion and as quickly as he arrived – he disappeared taking his new collar and tag with him.

Rocky

Rocky’s gait is very stiff, he is still favouring the left leg and saw the vet on Thursday 18th January for his Cartrophen injection and hip assessment – walks for the time being are out until he feels better.  After just a couple of days of rough and dominated play by a younger, stronger male dog, I can only pray that his hip can recover.

The veterinary nurse at the surgery clarified what  Abdel and myself had suspected that Donkey was targeting Rocky’s ‘weak spot’ as in his hips.  Animals in the wild that are elderly, sick or weak are targeted and Donkey was doing this to become ‘head of the pack’ so to speak.  The nurse also confirmed that Rocky was simply not up to that competition and his hip is exceptionally fragile.

Now Winston our foster dog from the week before was a perfect match for Rocky and there was no contest between the two of them – my goodness they even enjoyed urinating on one another and washing each others faces.  Still, it takes all sorts and who knows what goes on in the minds of our pets.

Rocky still struggles to get up from lying on the floor so today (Sunday 20th) I took him for a drive to the pet shop and bought him a new collar and a Kong toy and he is now resting in the laundry room.

His favourite rubber chicken is in pieces as Donkey thought it to be a daft toy and not worthy, leaving Rocky with a small piece of rubber so I need to buy him a new one although trying to find one is impossible as I have tried a couple of pet shops including the one today and they have sold out – severe rubber chicken shortage, that’s what it is.

Donkey left behind a small piece of hide chew which I found Rocky curled up on his camp bed happily chewing on it. Aside from Rocky’s bad hip and his new appreciation of his toys and being nervous to go into the ‘Donkey Zone’, it’s like Donkey was never here.

Dog Training Advice

As this blog is linked to the SAFE website, I feel it would not be appropriate to publish reader comments on dog training and would recommend that if you do have any concerns about your pets behaviour then I would suggest you consult your local vet regarding an initial check up to rule out illness or injury and they will be able to advise you about consulting a qualified pet behavioural specialist.

Pet behavioural issues can come in many forms and whilst the internet can offer helpful advice, it really is best to consult an expert so that your pet can be assessed on a one to one basis and the appropriate training given.

Dedicated to Donkey

Do I regret getting Donkey? – No, not at all in fact I am pleased that we got him because I think the right home for this little guy is in Perth and it will be a home where he can either safely be the dominant male or he will be an only dog with some rough and tumble type teenagers that can give him a run for his money in the energy stakes and he may well have not had that chance in Karratha.

To quote Sue from SAFE, even if I was Donkey’s temporary home until he found his next home, it was all meant to be – he was meant to come to Perth and I was meant to be put in touch with SAFE.

Because this is not the end of the Donkey Diaries, they will continue in the name of Donkey and instead of just Donkey being in them, it will now be dedicated to all of the SAFE dogs in Karratha that need loving homes and also in the hope of raising much needed funds for SAFE and the wonderful work that they do.

And of course, how could I regret turning up at Perth airport with Tori, Dee and Clare to pick up the little guy and having the privilege of a ‘wet smelly beard’ type kiss from Donkey.  Donkey is a bit of a ‘derro dog’ as in you can imagine him getting into various scrapes and fights, escaping from his garden to flirt with the local female dogs, and probably fathering a few litters of pups in his time as well.

Now he will be starting his life in Perth, it has been established what he is like, the stuff he likes and what he doesn’t and I reckon for this little/big dog it will be his best paw forward from now.

Thank you Donkey Dundee – it has been a pleasure knowing you.

If you would like to donate to SAFE Karratha, their bank details are as follows:

SAFE Karratha/HQ Bank:
Account Name:
BSB Number:
Account Number: 
Commonwealth Bank 
Saving Animals From Euthanasia Inc
066-531 
101 488 05

Remember every little donation helps and if I believe that my animal stories can raise money for SAFE Karratha, then I will make them a regular feature.  Interest is already being generated in other countries – Cyprus, USA, UK so I shall make it my mission to keep writing the stories to help their cause.

All I ask, is that if you do donate, if you could reference it as ‘Donkey Dundee’ so that SAFE know who it is in relation to.

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright 2013

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