You may remember a blog entry I did about stress and Sjogrens syndrome and I mentioned that I had acquired a new puppy called Brutus, which was struck down with severe gastro which very nearly cost him his life.
Well Brutus now has his own Facebook page as he has many followers supporting his journey and progress and for those of you that are interested – here is the link to his page:
I have had a request on here for a Brutus update and photographs, these are all on his Facebook page but I shall do a quick update on here.
Here is a photo of Brutus two nights before the gastro struck:
Brutus was admitted to Murdoch two days after this photo was taken, he stayed for one day, was admitted to Swan Veterinary Hospital, came out the next day when this photo was taken:
He was then readmitted a few hours after being discharged from hospital where he spent the rest of the week – here is a photo of him in hospital:
Brutus finally came out of hospital on 9th March and has been home for a week, on Saturday 16th March he went to the vet for his vaccine as the first hadn’t taken and he weighed about 7.8kgs which is still underweight for him although each day he is looking better.
Here are some photographs that I took from over last weekend and this weekend – see the differences and changes in him:
And finally, here is a photo that summarizes just how an older dog can guide a young pup and often teach them about life far better than their owners, I have cut and pasted an update I did on Facebook yesterday, it is about the relationship I have with Rocky as his owner and how although I thought I was doing what is best for him, the arrival of Brutus has taught me otherwise.
Dedicated to Rocky:
Today I realized that dog ownership often highlights issues that owners have with the relationship with their dogs and it often says an awful lot about the owner as well.
Rocky has been my ‘rock’ so to speak since we first got him. When I nearly lost my husband in a car crash, Rocky was the one consistent thing in my life, my husband was in hospital and I had been told to get his affairs in order and I remember sitting on the kitchen floor crying my eyes out so hard that I couldn’t breathe and the solid black body of my little kelpie dog pressing himself into me and washing my face – I will never forget it.
With each crisis that has been in our lives and trust me, in the 5 years we have lived in Australia, there have been many – health, legal, financial, bereavement, I shudder at remembering any of it, Rocky has been there and I too, wonder how I am still here – mentally and physically.
A year ago during a particularly financially difficult time when we came close to losing everything, I remember walking around Beeliar Wetlands with Rocky. He has hip dysplasia and I have severe joint issues from an auto immune disease. You should have seen the pair of us walking around Beeliar, both of us stiff as boards and of course you get halfway round and think ‘damn it, I shall have to complete it now’ and although Rocky looked horrified as he hates road work, he loyally kept up with me – his gait stiff as anything as I limped the 6km or so around the wetlands, we were like Forest Gump doing his long journey.
Rocky has been my best friend and I think with that intense dog/owner relationship that I have with him, I have rather unfairly and unknowingly (until now), taken away some of his ‘doggy-ness’ and stripped him of his normal canine behavior.
‘That dog is like your baby’ I have had said to me on so many occasions by child obsessed people. This I have to hotly deny because we have chosen NOT to have children. My animals are not the children we never had, having ones genitals stretched to 10cms never once appealed to me and I am sorry if that upsets people – I just don’t swing that way.
Yes, I love my animals and yes, having Brutus could be comparable to having a young child as I need eyes in the back of my head and let’s not even discuss toilet training and teething and sleepless nights.
But no, they are not children, and when you have come close to losing your partner – soul mate, when you have held your Mothers hand as she passed away, I can say now that there is no comparison for me. I love my animals dearly as you can tell and they will take priority over visitors but at the end of the day, I must stress that they are not children.
I will admit to humanizing Rocky and being more dependent on him than he is me. He is expressive, his face speaks volumes, so does Gordon’s – hell, I even ‘speak dog’ and make them talk, but then again so do many pet owners.
Rocky only tends to interact with other cattle/working dogs. before Brutus came to live with us, Rocky would happily sit in of an evening and smooch me on the sofa, washing my arms, or the sofa, or the wall – anything really and failing that, the cats ears were always clean.
Now Brutus is here, Rocky is somewhat distancing himself from me and becoming more of a dog and I am observing some traditional canine mannerisms and behavioral patterns that really do shoot the saying ‘I know my dog better than anyone’ into fresh air because no, we never really know our dogs, we domesticate them to a point, but no, we never truly know them because at the end of the day – wild is wild and you can take the dog out of the wild but you cant take the wild instincts out of the dog.
Today I took Rocky for a swim, Brutus had to stay behind as he only had his vaccine yesterday, so Abdel and I decided to go swimming with Rocky and Rocky did his usual swimming until exhausted, swallowing heaps of sea water and then yakking up and being reluctantly dragged from the water when we decided that an hour of solid swimming was quite enough thank you, besides, Abdel had to go to work.
I bathed Rocky in the garden and Brutus was washing the drops as they dripped off Rocky’s sopping black body – he looked like a shiny stag beetle – in fact my nickname for him is ‘beetle dog’.
I had bought Rocky a kangaroo hide chew which I had planned to give to him when Brutus wasn’t around. Trouble is, Rocky is a lazy bone eater – he still has a brand new hide chew from January but the kangaroo chew is much smaller and easier to eat. I have tried telling him that many a dog in Africa would be grateful for that bone but he tells me I am talking crap – which of course is quite plausible.
I had locked Brutus away in the laundry room and Rocky looked at the chew and said ‘Bollocks, I am not eating that’. Sighing, I let Brutus out and intended to pick up the chew, I was worried about Brutus trying to steal the chew as he is too young for stuff like that.
Rocky suddenly wanted the chew and curled his lip at Brutus, it wasn’t like ‘I am going to rip your face off’, it was a warning from a senior dog to the baby of the pack.
‘Piss off away from my bone’ Rocky said to Brutus. This is where it got interesting, Rocky never exhibits normal canine behaviors – why? because I have humanised him and made him the way he is – far too imprinted in a way he has forgotten how to act with other dogs.
‘Mum said I can have it!’ Brutus lied and then made steps to take the bone. Should I intervene? What would happen in the wild?
I sat there and did nothing, my heart pounding wondering if Rocky would hurt Brutus.
Brutus went nearer the bone and Rocky jumped up and really told him off – excuse the bad language but I can only relay it as it happened.
‘Get away from my bone you bastard!’ Rocky shouted, curling his lip up in a fine impression of of Elvis Presley (he used to curl his lip).
Rocky did a mock charge at Brutus while curling his lip, yelling at him to piss off and Brutus squeaked a high pitched squeak and went straight into submission. I saw for myself that Rocky did not actually touch him, but Brutus rolled on his back to say ‘sorry’ to Rocky.
The sneaky pup then went by the side of the coffee table with his rubber chicken in his mouth, laid the chicken by Rocky’s feet and then tried to swap it with the chew – I am being deadly serious.
Rocky did one more mock charge and that was enough to send Brutus on to the sofa, shaking like a girl while huddling up to Gordon, telling Gordon how awful it was. Gordon merely told him that stealing another dogs bones was akin to listening to Cliff Richard’s Millennium Prayer on replay and one should never ever do it. Brutus said he was sorry and Rocky as if to make a point of the Tenth Commandment ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal Other Dogs Bones’, ate the whole kangaroo chew, while watching Brutus, making one hell of a mess which I had to clean up.
I was so tempted to intervene because the whole scene made me uncomfortable but then I asked myself why, why did it make me uncomfortable?
It was normal canine behavior and pack hierarchal structure – dogs needed to learn their place, it isn’t just owner/dog boundaries that need to be set in the home, it is also canine boundaries as well and Brutus today learned that he cannot steal Rocky’s food until Rocky has eaten his fill and left scraps for him.
After Rocky had eaten his chew, there were lots of crumbs left on the bed, Brutus dutifully waited until Rocky had moved way and then jumped off the sofa, Rocky wagged his tail to the young pup and Brutus happily but rather submissively polished off the crumbs.
Once he had done that, he went up to Rocky swishing his long tail and cleaning round Rocky’s mouth and Rocky looked down at Brutus and licked one of his ears, gave a little tail wag and the pair of them carried on like nothing had happened.
And that is because nothing did happen – in their world anyway. It was just doggy stuff – we humans might not like it but it is their world and no matter how much we try and domesticate them, no matter how much we think that we know them, they are wild animals with very primal instincts just waiting to surface.
My dependency on Rocky was quite intense and in hindsight, not entirely fair. At first I felt guilty for Rocky as I had another puppy, a puppy that required a lot more attention but I should have given Rocky credit for how he would deal with it.
We can train/reprimand undesirable behaviors in our puppy’s/dogs but you know something? The best training for Brutus has come from Rocky himself.
When Brutus chews on Rocky, Rocky puts him in his place and Brutus very quickly has learned what he can and cannot do and what is acceptable.
Rocky now knows that there is competition for food and doesn’t piss about with his meals like he used to. Rocky has become a more proficient guard dog – although he is pretty on the ball now but now there is a puppy in his ‘pack’ to protect, he has gone up a notch.
My kelpie has changed, since the arrival of Brutus, he has gone from a childish 4.5 year old ex farm dog with some very babyish behaviors and some not so healthy acquired human ones, to an almost regal, mature, kind but assertive Kelpie that is far better in guiding this puppy than I could ever be. Don’t get me wrong, I do my best – you are all following me on this journey and I post with my heart but trust me, Rocky is much better at it.
So whilst I feel quite sad that I have sort of lost my good mate in so many ways, I am really proud of the dog he has become and if Brutus can learn half of what Rocky has to teach him, then we are going to be very lucky.
Humanizingyour dogs is one thing, but I have learned you have to allow dogs to be dogs, also watch their behaviour, watch them interact, watch how they sort out their differences and respect their ‘inner dog’.
So this entry is dedicated to Rocky, he has been where Brutus is now (we got him when he was about 5 months), he has chewed and destroyed a Palm tree, dug 4 feet under a retainer wall, eaten my entire CD collection, he has been there, he has supported me through the most traumatic times of my life and has been my best friend.
But now it is time for him to be a dog and enjoy being a dog, he is in the garden now with Brutus – both of them lying a few feet apart, both of them quiet, Brutus fast asleep and Rocky half asleep while keeping a watchful eye on the young pup that has barged into his life and prompting him to let his natural instincts take over.
As for me, well he is still my mate but now I have the pleasure of watching him become Brutus’s mate as well.
Let dogs be dogs.
Brutus is a puppy that is exhibiting normal puppy behavior and his reactions are guided by Rocky. Donkey if you remember, was exhibiting dog aggressive behavior towards Rocky to the point he wouldn’t let Rocky even drink from his water bowl and could not be left alone with him. Having been castrated quite late in life, he had developed some of the not so nice traits typical of an ‘entire dog’ If he was going to live with another adult male dog, it needed to be one that was big enough and strong enough to hold his own which Rocky isn’t. Donkey was also not good at all with cats and both SAFE and I believed it would be at a huge risk to Gordon to keep him – we needed a dog that we could trust with out cat.
Brutus will be going to puppy group and training and is being de-sexed next week so won’t have chance to develop his sex hormones and ultimately undesirable behavior but I will stress that if you have any concerns about your dog exhibiting aggressive behavior towards other dogs, I would say take him to your vet to rule out illness and then take appropriate expert advice on where to go from there.
Samantha Rose (C) Copyright 2013