Friday, February 22, 2008

What a great way to end the week....

Well, we've just had an exciting night. NOT.

I was out playing ball with the dogs while Steve bathed the LGBB. There was a certain sense of friction hanging in the air between the two girls, Jazz seemed a bit more skittish than usual and Pep was narky (or, again, more than usual).

We've been noticing that our old girl sleeps more, is harder of hearing, and misses her catch (of food, a ball, anything aimed at her head in order for her to catch it) more often these days. She is almost fifteen, after all. But she just will. Not. Lay. Down. And erm ... drop off the twig.

I don't know if Pep's in more pain these days - she certainly struggles to navigate the couple of stairs to the back deck and hobbles up and down them with various groans and grunts - but she is definitely more cantankerous than ever before.

But tonight, she had a particular edge to her. And she went Jazz a couple of times. Not unusual for the alpha female to show who's boss to her underling. But then it turned nasty. She mauled poor Jazz. Right in front of me. I was frantic and screamed at her to stop. But she wouldn't. I couldn't step between them - Jazz doesn't put up a fight, she just puts her head down and takes it normally (it's usually just a nip or a nudge or nuzzle from Pepper) - but Pep got her teeth into Jazz's top lip and yanked with all the force of her 23kg frame.

Oh my god it was sickening :(

She eventually stopped and Jazz had a hole in her face that was so deep I couldn't see the bottom. I took them both up to the vet hospital - our new local - and the were exceedingly lovely and diplomatic.

I honestly thought I would only be driving home with one dog. But they have gone with my wishes and avowed to work with us on a pain management program for Pep, for starters. She's on the edible powder for arthritic pain and also some heavy duty aspirin-for-dogs stuff. Jazz goes back first thing to get stitches put in her wee face.

I feel dreadful. It's mostly behavioural, obviously driven on our part - with a new baby and a new pup and a new home, with increasing joint and old age pain to boot, our dear old girl has had a lot to contend with and we've been oblivious to the warning signs til it was too late - so there is some retraining of us, as their handlers, to do.

Mainly, first and foremost, we have to allow Pepper to go first in everything. She is the top dog, she doesn't like being knocked from her perch, but because Jazz is younger, more agile and has a good 7kg up on Jazz she can easily and accidentally knock the old dog off her feet these days. It's humiliating to Peppy and we have been led to realise that she'll take any opportunity to exact her revenge or assume her authority over Jazz.

The backyard has already been sectioned into two. New pool fencing with dog-proofing gates arrived yesterday and Steve had it on the top of his list to erect it, thereby creating another division of the backyard. We have to. We thought for Lolly's safety, mostly (and of course, this is first and foremost with our elderly and increasingly erratic former only *fluffy* child), but now it appears, also for Jazz's.

Oh this has just been awful. But a timely and welcome intrusion by fate to confirm to us that Pep needed some assistance. She just won't clock off - she's the Energizer dog, apparently (just keeps going and going) - and I refuse to have her euthanased as she still has good quality of life. She's just an ailing achy ol' lady and I'm sorry, but that's not enough reason to give her a permanent rest. We're not worried in the slightest for the LGBB's safety, before anyone gets concerned. It's more Jazz's mental and now physical safety I'm more immediately worried about. Am glad it's been brought to light so we can keep it managed now. I think we left it go about 6 months too long, if Pep's decreasing tolerance level is anything to go by.

What a night.

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