And so I have Panda back, since the last people who tried to adopt her ended up giving her back because of her neurotic bad habit of peeing on the carpet and bed whenever you leave her alone for any given period of time. My efforts in trying to find her a new home, with someone who works from home and wouldn’t mind putting up with Panda’s obsessive-compulsive behaviors, have all but failed thus far. Not that I’m really in any huge hurry to give her up… she’s always been my favorite of the litter of four pups we had six years ago, and would have actually been mine from the beginning, if I had not had Barkley and Dakota already. -.- So she went to a neighbor friend of ours, so that we could still keep in touch, and that worked out for five years, but then they moved out of the city, couldn’t keep her, and so she’s now back with me.
She had been staying in foster care with potoroo for quite a few months because I was worried about bringing her home to the zoo we already had. Especially since I doubted very much that she and Zena would get along, seeing as how Zee is Queen Bitch of the house. With Panda being part Husky/Coyote and her given bulk, and Zena being part Staffie, and BOTH dominant, stubborn females, the last thing I needed was a fight breaking loose! c.c But with the sudden change of Panda’s circumstances, and my not really having much of a choice but to bring her in, I prepared the house, and myself for the worst…
…and you know what? Things haven’t been nearly as bad as I thought they were going to be!! Sure, Panda had her first two days of insecure snarlies. And she and Zena got into two initial scraps. The first was on the day Panda came, and Panda is a very vocal dog. She’s big and has a deep, growly voice, and Zena (being the control freak that she is) gets upset by _anything_ even the slightest bit aggressive/negative. So when Panda was trying to play, she stomped her front paws on the ground and made a lot of noise, which got Zena all huffy. She tried standing over Panda, trying to get her to calm down. Instead Panda got defensive, and then Zena got defensive, and that just escalated into a fight between the two, which was quickly put to an end when I had to step in. Zena was confined to her leash for the rest of that first night.
The second time was by accident, and about a week later. The girls were out in the run, and the neighbor’s annoying little American Eskimo Dog was yapping and running back and forth along the opposite side of the fence. This dog always gets Zena worked up, and she runs along side the fence as well, trying to get at him. Panda picked that up really quickly as well, and what started with the girls trying to get at the dog next door, somehow ended up with the two of them running into each other and turning on each other. That was quickly over with as well.
After three weeks of Panda living here, both she and Zena seem to be an even match, and have worked out a kind of agreement, for the most part. I keep them together at all times, even walking them on the same double leash, and they’re quite content to be in each other’s company now. Thank goodness the two don’t seem to remember these fights, though. >.> I mean, normally when Zena has a first bad impression of a dog trying to go after her, she remembers that dog forever, and continues to dislike it every time she sees it again. But with Panda that seems to be different. They’ll have “arguments” once in a while, but then quickly forget about them, and go back to whatever it was they were doing.
They had one of these arguments again last night, and _after_ I had remarked how happy I was at seeing them play together!! I was working in Photoshop last night and not really paying attention to the dogs, and I heard some fumbling and pattering around. I stopped and looked to my left, and saw the girls actually _playing_ for the first time! Even more amazing was the fact that Zena was on her back with paws out, letting Panda give her throat gentle licks and nibbles. The two were rolling around, nuzzling and pawing at each other, (so very nicely!) and Zena didn’t even seem to mind it when Panda did her stompy play-bows, when that used to really upset her when Panda first came here. I was SO thrilled!! And… I think I spoke too soon… :-P
A good few hours later that night, when I was getting ready for bed, I had all the dogs in my room for the night. Panda got all hyper and rambunctious, and started bugging Zena to play again. She stomped her front paws on the ground and growl-wruffed at Zena. “Woo, woo, woowrrooooooo!!” Zena wasn’t interested, and kind of just stood there with her tail up, staring at Panda to settle down. But Panda wasn’t getting the hint, and continued to push a bit more aggressively.
I probably should have been quicker in stepping in before things had a chance to escalate, and really I didn’t see who actually started it, but the girls were once again suddenly at each other’s throats. I’m so glad I learned that these scraps aren’t nearly as serious as they look and sound. Mostly just a lot of snarly noise and quick movements, but no one ever actually gets bitten or hurt, and it’s over in about three seconds. I grabbed Zena by the collar and yanked her to sit while Panda retreated to her crate, body lowered and ears flat. Between my yelling “No!!” at the both of them, and Zena’s going back and forth between snarly “She started it!!” faces at Panda, and “I’m sorry…” faces at me, I said, “I don’t CARE who started it, that’s NOT acceptable behavior!” I told Zena to go lay down, and she crawled off to the corner of my room. Panda was already in her crate lying down and looking very sad indeed, so I just closed the door. And the whole while the boys were having nothing to do with the situation, especially Dakota laying there with this look on his face, “Oh dude… you guys are in sooo much trouble…” Like he’s a perfect angel too, right? :-P
I puttered around in my bathroom while the girls had Time-Out, giving us all time to cool down. When I came back everything was quiet. I looked at Zena, and she laid her ears back and wagged her little curly tail at me. I walked over to her and got on my knees and took her muzzle in one hand. “You KNOW I don’t like it when you act like that.” She rolled on her side and pawed at me, looking all sorry. “I know Panda can be a pain sometimes, but you can’t be mean like that. Maybe I was too slow to calm her down… but the next time she bugs you, you IGNORE her, Zena. IGNORE, and come to me. Let _me_ deal with her, not you.”
I gave Zena a pat on the head and then crawled over to Panda’s crate, opened the door and looked in at her. She had her eyes down and ears flat, licking her lips and looking even more sorry than Zena. “YOU need to learn when enough is enough!” I said. “If Zena says no more, you need to learn to respect her, and back off. You can’t be so pushy all of the time, Panda. I’m not angry with you, but you need to learn when to settle down.” I poked her nose with one finger and she licked my hand.
Then I saw Panda’s eyes look to the right, and I turned to look beside me and Zena was sitting right there. I backed up a bit and patted my leg, and Zee came and put her head on my lap. “Are you girls good now?” They both looked at each other. “You gonna say sorry?” Panda then got up and came halfway out of her crate, ears still back, and she gave Zena a little lick above the eye, and Zena kind of had this, “yeah fine... whatever…” look on her face. I said, “Okay, good. You two drive me absolutely nuts.” And Panda was suddenly all smiley and waggy again, and she bounced out of her crate and stretched. I said, “Don’t you start! Get back in your bed and go to sleep!!” and Panda immediately turned around and ran back into her crate for the night.
The girls are friends again, and Panda is standing by me right now all smiley and panting. Zena’s asleep by my door. It’s so funny… even though I’m sure dogs will never be able to understand every Human word you tell them, I still find that talking to them like you would talk to any intelligent person really does make a strong impact. They’re not just dumb creatures, like some people might think. They’re smart, and deserve a lot more credit than I think a lot of people would give them. To me, they’re not just dogs – they’re just little furry people who walk on four legs. They’re Family, and that’s just how I’ll always treat them. :)