Thursday, 13 October 2011

The Veneer of Domesticity

Tattie Whippet
The veneer of domesticity is exactly that when it comes to dogs. You have to remember that they are 99 per cent wolf, not 99 per cent pajama case one percent adorable but animals that could so easily survive and thrive without us, though probably not quite so comfortably.
What I saw on Tuesday night I would have expected from a pit bull or doberman not a whippet. Not a mild mannered though somewhat naughty whippet. I should have been prepared to head off the incident for certainly the signs were there that any decent owner of dogs could have seen coming. But I was distracted with boys and schools and headmasters and missed them.
It's cost me nigh on £500.
And it has made me re-evaluate my dogs and how I treat them.
To all intents and purposes the fight was kicked off by a bowl of food that was left out. Tattie, my Empress (whose reign as Alpha Female has been on the wane for sometime now) was having a good old chomp, I remember thinking damn me I should have picked it up because there goes a fat whippet and it was as I thought about it that Sassy, the EBJ (Evil Black Job aka The Wickedest Whippet), came up to have a look see.
Tattie swung herself round so that Sassy couldn't get at the bowl. Blocking her from the food.
Sassy  tried again.
Tattie growled.
Sassy growled.
Then suddenly they kicked off. At first I thought it would just be a spat over as quickly as it began but it wasn't. This was a full on challenge and Sassy was never going to back down. In fact she won quite quickly and Tattie was trying to get away but that wasn't enough for Sassy while her blood was up.
It was vicious.
It was terrifying.
tattie was cringing away but sassy kept on coming. She would not stop. I waded in with feet bashing at sassy to get her to release her hold but I fear I only made it worse she let go then went straight back in again. Tattie was yelping. I was hollering God knows what.
I broke them up  and shoved sassy outside into the garden and turned to look for Tattie who had shot under the table. She wouldn't budge so I opened the door out to the hall and she bolted  there and up the stairs.
I let Sassy back inside, she was cut on her shoulder which I thought served her right and she had a small nick on her nose. Nothing untoward.
Then I went in search of Tattie. She was sitting at the top of the stairs, her eyes bulging and breathing rapidly through her mouth in puffs making her muzzle look pinched and thin. She was covered in blood.
I approached and she turned from me and that is when I saw the extent of the damage: a four inch  piece of skin was seemingly missing on her shoulder with a deep puncture wound welling up with dark blood in the middle. She was obviously in shock.
Strange as it may seem I know the vets' number by heart and I called it immediately knowing that if you get a wound like this to the vet within the first four hours they can literally work miracles.
Both dogs were bundled in the car, though I hasten to add, separately. And I rushed them down, not thinking it was too bad: I was just kidding myself. All of us were shocked, me and the dogs.
Tattie's wounds were far worse than was immediately apparent as were Sassy's. This had been a fight for stakes far higher than a mere bowl of dog food.
Both dogs were whisked away for stitches. Sassy returning with me that night while Tattie underwent a general anaesthetic and surgery for her extensive injuries. I could not sleep that night and tossed and turned right through finally giving up the battle at three in the morning and reading until it was time to get the boys up.
As I waited I thought long and hard about it. If a whippet could do so much damage to another dog what sort of damage could they do to a child, a toddler or even a baby? What sort of damage could  a larger heavier dog do?
I thought I knew my dogs, thought I could trust them but I know now that I cannot, not totally.
Tattie is OK. The vets' are miracle workers. It was touch and go. She will be scarred but I knew that and she is still My Empress though perhaps not in the eyes of the rest of the pack. It is something I will have to be careful of for a while until I can work out how the land lies.
We have DAP for dogs  pumping its calming influence around the house. It's helping.But all I can think about is how thin the veneer of domesticity.


mrsnesbitt said...

I can so so so relate to this - we had many years of torment from Elsie, our - well Jon's German Shepherd. She will NEVER be mine or indeed have anything to do with me -until ofcourse I feed her - then she allows me favour!!!!! I could go on - but we have witnessed many confrontations - some worse than others. ((((HUGS)))) I know how frightening and unnerving such incidents can be xxx

Rob-bear said...

We have had several dogs at a time, and while there was conflict, nothing ever like this.
But I understand how your experience could be very frightening — for the dogs and you.
Hope Tattie is OK. EBJ, I'm sure, will survive.
Blessings and Bear hugs to all.

Spencer Park said...

As you say it is a thin veneer. I grew up with dogs, all of them soft as a brush, so thought nothing of going to the rescue centre to buy another.

This dog, on the surface, was also lovely. However, when I bent down once to pick up a chicken bone that had accidentally dropped on the floor he decided it was his and went for me. I was reasonably lucky - just needed 3 stitches, by a plastic surgeon, to my lip that was hanging open.

It did make me a little less trusting, especially as it turns out the rescue centre knew about his character but never told us, but I do have another dog now so I must still love them!

Posie said...

Scary, and so awful when it is a spat between two dogs who you love. Glad Tattie is okay.

Expat mum said...

Blimey how awful. Does that mean you can never leave them alone together?
We have only the one dog and she's very sweet. However, the 8 year old is forever hanging round her neck and kissing her. She just looks up at me, patient as ever, as if to say "Get him off me". I do have to tell him not to push her too far though - is ever she wasn't feeling well and really didn't want him fussing her, I'm sure she wouldn't hesitate to let him know. You have to be realistic - they're animals first.

Milla said...

God, yes, horrible. I've seen dogs just turn out on our walks and the wolf is indeed waiting, tucked inside the fur. In my recent blog, I put how my friend ended up chucking a glass of water over her dog to calm it down / stop it snarling. Certainly a rapid diffuser. Having it confirmed that you can't trust them is depressing.

Kitty said...

Wow! That has shocked me. Whippets seem the meekest of dogs. How frightening for you. I will look at Teasel with fresh eyes now. x

Lou Archer said...

Wow that's scary. We don't have dogs, though I love them, but because I don't live with them I treat all dogs with healthy respect.

Hope they both recover well and you relax from the shock.


Wally B said...

I'm sorry to hear this Tattie. You are right though, It could have been a small child. I hope the girls get better and your nerves recover.

Marcheline said...

We humans need to never forget that animals are animals, and that they allow us to be close to them... but that closeness does not change their essence or their nature. Ask Siegfried and Roy.

Dorset Dispatches said...

How scary. And a good reminder to all us dog owners to remember that you can never 100% trust them, no matter how docile they seem.

You may remember we thought long and hard about adopting a street dog when we were in Bosnia. She was an amazing dog, just wonderful in every way. But it was always at the back of my mind that she was a street dog and we would never know if she could be totally trusted. x

Go on you know you want to...


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