First off…my sincere apologies for my silence during the past couple of months. Ray’s death hit me extremely hard. When he passed, it was as if he took my voice with him. It has taken time, counseling and the love of a new dog to bring me back into the light.
Six weeks after Ray’s passing, I adopted a new dog from Coloradogs in Ft Collins, Colorado. I had reached out to them looking for a young male dog who was good with other dogs. They suggested Bubba. I was very lucky in the fact that Vicktory Dog Oscar’s mom Rachel was volunteering at the rescue, and was able to interact with Bubs and give me her thoughts about him, his temperament, and his dog skills. So, in due course, Bubba came home to live with us.
Bubs is a BIG boy. At 80 pounds we are not sure if he is even done growing. His pearly white teeth are a good indicator that he is really not very old. Bubs is strong. Crazy strong. Tow my car strong. And he is exuberant and a definite wild child of a dog. All those things together mean that we have been glacier slow introducing him to his sister McCaela the Turtle.
Turtle is one of the rescued Fearing Six fighting dogs. She is a confirmed fighting dog. Her scars, torn ears, and broken bones are a testament to the abuse she suffered, being made to fight for her survival. Surprisingly she is not overly dog aggressive. But she is selective. She prefers big, calm dogs and has an absolute distaste (hatred) for small yapping dogs. She is also Babesia positive. Babesia is a blood born parasite that can be passed between fighting dogs via deep puncture wounds. In ways it is similar to malaria. And like malaria, it can be treated, but never cured. All of these characteristics mean we want to make sure she has no further bad experiences with other dogs.
We scheduled a series of introduction opportunities with John Garcia. Anyone who has ever watched NatGeo’s DogTown is familiar with John. He is able to instantly track the slightest change in demeanor or body language. He speaks dog fluently. John guided us through brief intros between the two. Sometimes it went well…sometimes it didn’t. He gave us pointers and ideas for bringing the two dogs together over time.
Kevin and I started introducing our two kids extremely slowly. Every night we take a parallel walk together. This allows the dogs to become familiar with each other’s sight, smell and mannerisms. We move together and apart in a natural manner, allowing first one dog, then the other to lead the way. Over time the two have naturally fallen into step, side by side, shoulder to shoulder.
It has take almost two full months, but today, something amazing happened. Bubba and Turtle played together in our yard. They mouthed and bounced and knocked each other over. They body slammed. They took turns being the “aggressor”. They had a rollicking good time. At the end they were both laying on the pavement, tongues hanging, panting with exertion. It was an amazing thing to see.
We still have a ways to go before we will allow our kids unlimited access to each other. Our house will remain a “gated community” awhile longer. Until they come to a complete understanding, we would rather be safe than sorry.
It might seem like a small thing….but today two dogs who were horribly abused by dog fighting and humans…..did what dogs are meant to do….play with joy and verve. And it was a miracle.