Dog fight… a real one

Last night Pax and Aslan got crowded in the kitchen near some high-value food, and Aslan jumped Pax. We’ve had lots of fights like that, and I wasn’t particularly concerned. But this one didn’t stop. It escalated. Pax was sick of being picked on, and so he fought back. Hard. In fact, I’d have to say he was winning the battle when Jay and I finally jumped in and dragged them apart.

Both dogs were left bleeding. I took Aslan to the emergency vet, and they shaved his face and found about a dozen punctures. Pax I didn’t take to the vet last night, but he’s going this morning. He had a puncture in his neck, and at least two in his front left foot. Neither dog went for the belly or back legs, which is good.

I don’t blame Pax for finally fighting back. He’s taken a lot from Aslan. Problem is, this only made things worse. The two are separated because Aslan starts growling as soon as he sees him. Since we’re not breeding Pax, I’m going to make an appointment to have him neutered. Hopefully getting the last of the testosterone out of the equation will get Aslan to chill out.

Jay is losing patience with Aslan, and I understand that. He has no tolerance for bullies — and that’s what Aslan is. He’s starting to talk about rehoming for the sake of peace in the household. But rehoming Aslan would be difficult. He’s a very large dog who needs to be an only dog. And, of course, I love him dearly. But if he would be less stressed by a different living arrangement, then rehoming is a good choice. Ugh! I hate this line of thought. Hate it. I love Aslan, and even thinking about rehoming feels like I’m abandoning him. But I’m not. I’d NEVER do that. I want him to be happy.

I called my friend Greta Kaplan from the vet. Her specialty is aggressive dogs. She and I agree — this is an especially difficult kind of aggression because Aslan is highly reinforced by the adrenaline rush he gets from fighting. He enjoys fighting. I’ve worked hard to prevent fights to keep him from building a reinforcement history for the behavior, but, like last night, I’m not always successful.

Jay and I both worry about what it would mean to bring a puppy into this situation. Greta agreed with me there too — Aslan isn’t likely to bother a puppy at all. This aggression has its basis in status, and until the puppies hit adolescence… probably around 11 months old… they aren’t going to do anything but kowtow to him. But what happens at 11 months???

Jay isn’t going to like it, but Greta suggested something I had considered… getting a girl puppy. Even if we get two puppies, she thinks they should both be girls. I balked at that. It seemed to me that two girl puppies of roughly the same age was just begging for inter-bitch aggression later. Greta said inter-bitch aggression — though horrible when it happens — is really very rare, but the status-based aggression from Aslan was a sure thing toward male puppies.

I don’t know. I guess, first things first. Let’s see what the vet says when I take Pax in this morning, and let’s see how Aslan reacts after Pax is neutered. Then we can think more about the future.

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