This is how I’ve been feeling lately. Yeah.
Calvin’s been testing his limits lately, and I’m not impressed. At all. He’s been acting like an idiot for the past few days, and normally I just deal with it because he’s not my dog. But today I caught him marking his territory on the living room furniture – a leather armchair that is the favorite target of all of our animals.
So I catch him, and just stand there in shocked silence, like, “Oh NO you didn’t!” He sees the look I give him, and runs and takes a flying leap to the couch, knowing he’s in trouble. I of course start scolding him, telling him “NO!” in that harsh, correctional voice, and wagging a finger like an angry mother…
And he RAISES his lip and GROWLS at me!!! O.o NEVER, in all of the eight years I’ve worked with canines, have I ever been challenged by a lower ranking dog. I will admit, when it comes to dogs, I don’t give them any options. I am the Alpha, that’s all there is to it, and I assert my authority right from the very beginning.
Back when I used to work at the non-kill animal shelter, I worked with every single dog in that place, even the not-so-nice ones. And I’ve never had a problem. In fact, I was the only staff member in that place who actually paid them any attention. I knew every one by name, their age, their sex, their breed, their personalities. I spent time with them, and developed good relationships with a lot of them, (the ones that were there for a couple years) and they all loved me as much as I loved them. There were plenty of times I’d have to assert dominance though, hell I’ve had to jump into cages and separate fights before. But they listened. O.o It always made me feel good, the fact that they really seemed to listen, and would stop and bow down, “I’m sorry, it won’t happen again.” And then everything would be fine again.
Now just because I consider myself to be Alpha doesn’t mean I’m stupid. I don’t make a point to challenge other “Top Dogs.” But I don’t back down either. I’ve known a few Alpha dogs, didn’t always get along with them, but we always seemed to have this understanding. They would test things, and I’d always hold my ground, but never make any threatening signs back. And a lot of the time these dogs would just kind of eye me, and they seem to almost nod, and slowly back down, almost as if they see me as an equal. “Right. I’m an Alpha. You’re an Alpha too. Stay out of my way, and I’ll stay out of yours.” It’s like some weird mutual agreement, and I found most of these dogs’ reactions to be very curious. And I’m just this little 85lbs nothing of a stick girl, so if a dog REALLY wanted to tear me apart, they could do it so very easily.
Sometimes I really wonder if they can sense the wolf part of me. Being Were, my brain often automatically switches from Human to Animal mode. It’s something beyond my control, really, and I have to remind myself, “Um, you’re HUMAN. This dog can kill you easily… don’t give it a reason to.” But my Wolf brain, being stubborn, and stuck in Alpha/Feral mode, often forgets that I don’t actually have fangs and claws to defend myself with. I remember nearly getting jumped by a 150lbs Rottweiler a couple years ago when I was still working at the kennel. He was a caution dog. Nobody liked handling him at all, cos they were scared shitless of the big brute. But I went into work one day, not in a great mood, so I wasn’t up for any trouble that day. I looked at him and said, “Don’t try anything today… I’m not in the mood.” Looped his lead, took him out to the runs, and he was fine and co-operative. It was when I was bringing him back that he decided to give me trouble. I put him back in his kennel, and removed the lead, and stepped backwards to leave – and he JUMPED forward suddenly, barking and snapping at me. O.o
Without even thinking… my automatic reaction - I took a sudden step FORWARD, and barked and snapped right back at him. I guess it must have shocked the hell out of him, because he jumped back and shut up, with this expression on his face like, WTF? Tilted his head to the side and just sat there, staring at a very pissed off me, and then I backed out of the kennel, keeping a close eye on him the whole time. It wasn’t until AFTER I left the kennel that I realized how stupid my reaction was. You just… don’t growl back at a 150lbs caution Rottweiler. x.X But luckily, that particular dog was more bark than bite, or I probably wouldn’t be here today. Needless to say though, he didn’t give me anymore trouble after that. :-P
So I guess I’ve just been lucky when it comes to dogs. Either that, or they just understand me really well. But Calvin just makes me shake my head in wonder, because even after all the time he’s been here (nearly a year) he STILL doesn’t seem to get it. In the house hierarchy, he is at the bottom. And I think it’s the fact that he still has his balls intact that he sometimes forgets that he’s not the one in charge. _I_ am! O.o And this isn’t the first time he’s raised his lip to me either, but it still shocks me because I would have thought that he’d know better by now. My own two dogs looked at him and were like, “oh shit…” and ran out of the room. He’s normally a fairly passive dog, but when he gets into those odd moods where he ‘talks back’ it just makes me crazy. Just made my hackles raise, and two seconds later I literally found myself standing over him and snarling right back at him. He shut up really quickly after that though, and didn’t so much as dare make eye contact with me, which is just as well, because if he had tried anything else, I probably would have snapped at him. >.<
Dunno… it just REALLY erks me. In a wolf pack, if a sub wolf ever gave lip to a dom wolf, that wolf would get it’s ass severely mauled. This is MY pack, and lately keeping Calvin in check has become very tedious, and I’m beginning to lose my patients with him. I think he needs a new setting. Maybe the amount of other animals in the house is slowly getting to him, maybe he’s feeling competitive. I DO need to find him another foster home by June though, so the sooner I can find someone willing to take him, the better off he’ll be. In the meantime, he’d better remember where his place in this house is. >.