by Shera Anderson
Shera is a fellow pet blogger. We found each other through a site called Blogpaws and I asked her to share the story of one her dogs. Her blog is Daisy the French Bulldog.Let me just start out by saying I love dogs. No, really, I LOVE dogs. In fact, my whole family loves dogs so much that we have three. While we don’t have an “open door” policy when it comes to taking in dogs that need a home (our neighborhood has restrictions on the number of dogs we can house at any given time), we do what we can to help a dog in need, even if that means a temporary home until something more secure is located for the pup.
Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that introducing a pup—whether temporary or permanent—to a home with established dogs is not always an easy task. Your established dogs might seem mild-mannered and friendly, but when you introduce a new dog, instincts take control, and your dogs may feel threatened and become aggressive. I want to share with you the story of Ruby, a Pug that we saved from a kill-shelter, and the challenges that we faced when we brought her home.
My husband and I were working at the same office at the time, and we had a co-worker who was going through a nasty divorce. Our co-worker had to leave her home abruptly because of the separation, and as a result, she had to leave her Pug, Ruby, behind. Our co-worker’s husband wanted nothing to do with the dog—or so we were told—and promptly dropped Ruby off at a local animal shelter. Our co-worker knew that my husband and I were deeply committed to dogs and their well-being, so she immediately told us about the situation. I called the shelter the same day and advised them not to place the dog in the kennel or euthanize her; I would be in after work to pick her up.
We left work a little early that day and rushed to the shelter to rescue Ruby. The shelter was actually very kind to us and had Ruby ready to meet us upon our arrival. We went into a small room and began to play with Ruby. Her eyes were so sweet; she just wanted love and security. We signed the papers and loaded her into our car. This would have been a perfect story if not for the fact that we had three (THREE) other dogs at our house when we picked up Ruby: Jack, a male Jack Russell Terrier; Emma, a spunky female Boston Terrier; and Mimi, a female Shih-Tzu that liked to do things her own way. We thought that introducing a fourth dog, especially since it was another female, to our “pack” would be no problem at all. We couldn’t have been more wrong.
When we got home, we brought our other dogs outside one at a time to meet Ruby. Everyone seemed to be wagging their tails and interested in meeting this new family member. Ruby was quick to jump in and play with the dogs, too. Everything was perfect until we brought all of the dogs inside and I went into the kitchen to make dinner. Out of nowhere my husband and I heard a fight. To our surprise Mimi and Ruby were viciously fighting with each other. We had no idea what happened and suspected that maybe Ruby was nervous or upset about her whole ordeal, and started a fight by accident. Let me tell you, dogs do not start fights by accident. They are very intentional. And very purposeful. How do I know? The fights continued for days. And I continued breaking up the fights—until I got bitten. Badly.
At first I was angry at Ruby, the one who bit me, for the fights and unrest. But as I was sitting in the urgent care clinic getting my wound treated, I realized that it was not Ruby’s fault. Ruby was only acting as her instincts told her to. I felt terrible. I wanted Ruby to become a permanent member of our family, but I knew I was not equipped to handle the situation that was forming between Ruby and Mimi. So, after many phone calls and emails, my husband and I located a local Pug sanctuary that would help us find Ruby a permanent home, where she could be queen of the castle (aka, an only dog). The day that we had to drop Ruby off to be transferred to her permanent home was gut-wrenching. I felt like a failure.
A few weeks later I reached out to a neighbor of ours, who also happened to be our veterinarian. I told him about how Ruby and Mimi had behaved, and I wanted to know if it was something that I had done wrong. My vet told me that the dogs were likely fighting to establish rank; that it was something that happened regularly in packs of dogs. Remember, before Ruby arrived in our home, our pack rank was established already. When another dog (not a puppy) was thrown into the mix, the hierarchy was in a state of chaos, which basically left Mimi and Ruby fighting to determine who was last in line. Perhaps a slower introduction could have helped. Or keeping the dogs in separate spaces unless supervised. I didn’t know much about Ruby’s past. Perhaps she was abused or neglected, and craved a human’s attention. Basically, the moral of this story was: do your research before bringing home a new dog.
Talk to your vet about the temperament of your current dog(s). Also take into consideration their gender(s), age(s), and breed(s). Ask your vet for suggestions as to how to introduce a new dog into your home, even if it is only a temporary placement. Make sure that you have the ability to separate the dogs, if necessary, until all of the dogs are comfortable together. As the human, you owe your dogs (new and old) a peaceful home. I took this experience to heart, and we have since introduced two new dogs (including Daisy, a French Bulldog) into our home after Jack and Emma passed away. I am pleased to say that we took our Vet’s advice and have had no more fighting in our home. Well, unless it is over who gets the last bacon treat. Don’t worry—there’s always a spare bag on hand!