Why We Fight 1


At about seven this morning, my mom woke me up to fix her breakfast.  As I was just about to fall asleep, she decided to toss a piece of her breakfast burrito to Xander, who was on my side of the room.  The piece went past Gretchen and landed right in Xander’s mouth.  Gretchen went into to full attack-mode.  She clamped onto his ears & neck.  He clamped onto her cheek.  My dad had to get up to break up the fight because she just wouldn’t let go.  He put Gretchen in her kennel while I cleaned Xander’s neck.  When Gretchen got out, she had forgotten that she’d bitten Xander.  Xander, however, was still extremely nervous around her.

I felt sorry for both of them.

It might seem strange to feel sorry for Gretchen for acting aggressively over food.  It isn’t when you take into account her history.

All five of our dogs are rescues.  They’ve all come to our house with some level of food aggression.  Two, Molly and Gretchen, have come with more significant abuse and neglect issues.  Molly’s abuse makes her aggressive towards anyone wearing scrubs, though it is mainly directed at veterinarians and not techs or support staff, so she is muzzled anytime that she is at the vet.  She also is more food aggressive because she was practically starved to death when she came to our house.  (She’d had puppies and the shelter she was at failed to feed her enough to make up for the nutrition lost by nursing and carrying them, so she almost died from that.)  Gretchen’s food aggression and tendency to go after other dogs (not people) doesn’t come from being starved.

Gretchen was kicked in the face or stepped on or something like that when she was a little puppy.  Her jaw was broken and she lost a tooth.  She also  suffered from some level of brain damage that causes her to attack the other “pack members”, chase her tail regularly, run in circles, do other obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and have other various issues. It also seems to keep her in a constant puppy-like state.  Even though she’s almost 8 years old, she hasn’t really matured at all since we adopted her when she was around five months old.   We’ve talked to the doctor about it, and there really isn’t much that can be done.  We separate her when everyone is fed.  We also try to keep her occupied when we think that something might trigger her to go nuts.

Aside from her aggression and OCD issues, she is a really, really sweet puppy.  She’s very protective of everyone in the family, including the other dogs.  She forgets that she attacks the other dogs and tries to check on them whenever she notices they’ve been attacked.  She even licks their wounds.

So, that’s why I feel bad for her.

My parents have, in the past, talked about giving her away because of her attacking-tendency, but I think that we’ve all come to realize that that isn’t really a good solution for her and that the good with her always outweighs the bad.  We just have to remember to be very, very careful when it comes to certain things that we do.  She does the biting/attacking thing a lot less now than she used to, and I think that quite a bit of that is because we’ve learned to be more careful around her.  I just wish I could find a way to help her get past this particular behavior.


About Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.


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