Sylvia is a Shar Pei mix. Shar Peis have a reputation for belligerence if not handled properly. Add to that a history of having come from a hoarding situation. She came into rescue and foster care as a scared, confused dog. Her first foster home helped her get past the fear and some of her aggression.
When she started visiting here, she would wander our play yard with a mixture of us dogs in the yard with her, and she was fine with all of us. She basically just ignored us as she went about sniffing and peeing on everything.
When she moved in to live here and got settled, she started thinking of this less as a park and more as home — and she got a bit territorial. But, Blondie Bear was the only one she really had any issue with — and we never figured out why. Blondie IS a mentor and Play Yard Trainer, but is the sweetest, most gentle girl you could ever meet.
But Sylvia started out with some dominance challenges:
… and moved on to open hostility. When Blondie would walk past Sylvia’s pen Sylvie would charge the fencing and get really nasty. Blondie would simply roll her eyes and move off.
But, the Peoples did make it a policy to not let Blondie and Sylvia be in the yard together anymore. They even made up a little sign to put on the door if one of them had Sylvie out in the yard. Sylvie could be out with ANYONE else (and we had a bunch in the months Sylvie has been living here) just not Blondie Bear.
But, one afternoon, Blondie got let out while Sylvia was having her pre-dinner run time — and it got ugly fast.
Sylvia started the fight by jumping on Blondie’s back and attempting to grab her neck. But, for a big girl, Blondie has some ninja-like moves! She reversed the hold, got Sylvia by her collar, and started scooting her backward to keep Sylvia off balance.
The Hidden Danger of a Dog Fight
Us dogs are very much like Peoples in that each of us has our own personality. Some are easy-going and laid back, some are competitive. Most of the time, most of us, don’t want trouble. But if someone pushes our buttons just the wrong way … we too can explode in anger or fear.
If a fight breaks out between two or more the rest of us tend to get in on it: and we often don’t know what the fight is about, we’re just hard-wired to get in the fight. But not all of us are that way. Some will run. And some are like Blondie.
Over the years since I came here to help HairyFace and NiceLady run Piney Mountain Foster Care, we have had LOTS of foster dogs. In order to socialize them and teach them good behavior in groups, we have to have at least two dogs in the play yard at the same time. Sometimes, we’ve had as many as 6 in the yard at once. The more dogs who are interacting, the more likely one will aggravate another. We have had several dog fights break out. One or two were free-for-alls that got scary.
Blondie and I each have our own way to help Hairy break up a fight. Blondie grabs one combatant by the collar and drags him or her out of the fray. At a powerful 90 pounds, she can do that! What is unique is that she goes for the collar, not their neck. That’s what she did this time. Unfortunately, the collar came unfastened, then she had to grab Sylvie by the scruff of her neck.
When Hairy got there with the hose, Blondie was still scooting Sylvia backwards. Sylvia was screaming and hollering: her attempt to establish dominance over Blondie had gone horribly wrong and now she was expecting to die.
Hairy separated them and got between them in case either one wanted to continue hostilities. They didn’t. NiceLady herded Sylvia back to her pen, Hairy held onto Blondie until it was safe to let her go, then took her inside.
Neither Peoples got hurt. Blondie was not hurt. Sylvia got a bit banged up, but nothing too serious … as far as Hairy could tell.
Sylvia went back to being terrified of everyone for a day or two. She hid in her dog house, and screamed if HairyFace tried to approach her. And he did try, just to assess whether she needed to go to the vet — which would be hard since she wasn’t letting anyone near her. He could see she sustained a bite to her leg, and he suspected her neck-skin was bruised.
Hairy called Amy to let her know what happened and to request some antibiotic pills. She wasn’t going to let him get close enough to dress her wounds for a while.
Sylvia warmed up again to NiceLady first (because Lady had not been involved in breaking up the fight or taking Blondie’s side). At first she’d lick Lady’s hand, but not allow touching, by the next day Lady could pet her head, but not touch her elsewhere. A couple of days later, Sylvia repeated the process with Hairy. So she will get past this.
At this point, Hairy may pet her head, but not touch her leg wound. But the Doxycycline is preventing infection and it’s sealing over, so she will be okay.
And, Sylvia has not said word one to Blondie Bear when Blondie is out in the yard and comes near her pen. Perhaps Sylvia has learned a little humility.
UPDATE: Oct. 11, 2017
It has been several weeks since this incident and everything is back to normal. Sylvia again is friendly and trusting of both Peoples and most dogs … but not Blondie Bear: that issue continues as it was before the dust-up.