Mammal Mondays: What’s Big and Red, and Rhymes With “Witch”

We are on day nine of Caroline’s stay with us. While we are grateful our foster doggy is in good health and is recovering nicely from her spay surgery, it has not been an easy week. Take a moment and look at this sweet face.

What a face! You may also recognize the disembodied tail. 

Immediately after this photo was taken, Caroline jumped on Sherman and decided to show him who was boss through a rather impressive display of snarling, snapping, growling, and boof boofing. Sherman tried to get away but couldn’t, and The Electrician had to help me pull Caroline off Sherman. It was a tense night. Sherman had no injuries and she settled down as soon as he was out of her sight, but it was definitely a big display of crankiness on Caroline’s part. I know she could have easily hurt him if she wanted to, and the fact she didn’t says to me she just wanted to let him know where he stood.

We had similar episodes every day she was here until Friday, when she decided she had “educated” Sherman enough and started ignoring him. For his part, Sherm slunk around whenever they were in the same room, keeping his face turned away from her while his tail was lodged firmly between his legs. The Electrician and I walk the dogs together, where we had zero issues, and they were generally fine off-leash in the house, except when Sherman had something Caroline wanted, like one extra ear scratch or proximity to the water bowl or a spot on the kitchen floor she’d prefer to occupy.

Since she’s been here, they have never, ever been unsupervised together, not even for a moment, because our girl is still working things out for herself. I don’t blame her for being a little snarky, especially coming from a neglectful situation and recovering from both motherhood and hysterectomy at the same time. Understanding her background, and the fact she doesn’t understand (yet) that there is no need to compete with Sherman because everyone will be fed and watered and loved, makes it easier to appreciate that she’s been acting up because she’s had a rough, rough life so far. It’s just been hard on me to orchestrate schedules for two dogs who can’t be out in the yard alone together for poop breaks, and who for the first week could not be in close proximity without dedicated supervision.

Before you write to me and tell me to take away the resources Caroline believes she is guarding, please know we have never, ever had them together in an environment with food, treats, beds, or toys at the same time. I even check my pockets to make sure I don’t have a stray doggy treat in there when they’re together, just in case it sets things off. I think Caroline has just had such a tough go, and was feeling so icky after weaning puppies and undergoing surgery, that whatever emotions she had were flaring up on the easiest target: Sherman. Poor girl. Poor Sherm.

I contacted my foster home supervisor to tell her Caroline was not a fan of the Shermanator, and we agreed to move her to another foster family if she didn’t start coming around within a few days. It’s not fair to Sherman to be beat up on in his own house, and the poor guy was pretty stressed, even if we did our best to keep things level and calm in the dollhouse.

Then, something happened yesterday. For some reason, Caroline’s hormonal angst started dissipating steadily, so much so that she allowed Sherman to toodle around the kitchen without showing any hostility toward him. Sniffing butts and calmly tolerating him are a big step from where we were this time last week. After our team walk last night, she even engaged in what was, if not play, then the next door neighbour to play when we were all outside in the back yard together. It was a major, major turning point. Hooray!

She has learned “sit” rapidly, mainly because she doesn’t get squat unless her butt is on the ground. 100 pound dogs need really clear rules.

So, here we are. Things are looking hopeful that Sherman and Caroline are going to be, if not friends, at least housemates who tolerate one another. I am really thankful whatever bug crawled up the big red dog’s annoos decided to find another place to hang out. She is changing so dramatically for the better right now that I feel deeply relieved about the whole situation.

Yes, I realize I just wrote a blog post about Caroline picking on my dog. This is not particularly good advertising for a pooch up for adoption. Here’s the good news, and there is lots of good news to balance the challenges we’ve had with this foster dog. Caroline is excellent on a leash, in a crate, and in the house. She has not had any accidents since arriving here, even in her emotional turmoil. She does not bark that I’ve heard, except for the noise of expressing her (fading) dislike of Sherman. More than anything, she adores people and just loves to cuddle, which is difficult but not impossible when you’re a dog approaching 100 pounds. Caroline is to my husband what a twelve year-old girl is to Justin Bieber. She follows him around drooling and making gooey eyes in his direction. Since learning to sit on command, she sits without me asking when I have something she would like, such as a cookie, and she has not attempted to chew, take, or devour anything that isn’t hers to enjoy. For the right family, one that will be firm about boundaries but generous with affection, Caroline will make an amazing companion.

Wonderful family for this sweet dog who is getting more lovely by the day, please get in touch. We have a beautiful mutt just waiting for you to scratch her ears.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. liz4short says:

    Caroline is a lucky girl. It sounds like your patience and understanding is helping her to see that life is more than the ugliness she came from. I hope she finds as good a home as you have provided. (I’m sure Sherman does too) I applaud the electrician and your commitment to helping this girl.

    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement, Liz. We’re doing the best we can, although I’d be lying if I said being a foster parent is easy. Our fingers are very much crossed for a wonderful home soon for Miss Caroline. She deserves the fresh start we’re hoping so hard for.

  2. lexy3587 says:

    It sounds like it was just an adjustment period – acting out before she figured out what the rules were. You guys handled it well, I think, and I’m glad Sherman isn’t being beat up on anymore!

    1. Thanks! We’re so relieved and the feeling in the house has improved too. Caroline attended an adoption event with other dogs yesterday, and I’m so proud of her for being a good girl. Although she wasn’t exactly yearning to make friends with the other dogs, she showed no snark at all. Things are looking up!

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