Thursday, June 17, 2010

When we met

Above is Mazunte (the small one) and Solan, when they first met, three years ago. I walked slowly to the cabin with Mazunte, letting him get to know the area, letting him get to know me. And once we came to my place I let him run around as much as possible among the grown-up dogs. Most dogs will put a puppy in it's place, but not hurt it. This way, the new arrival learns the ropes.

But despite this attempt at creating social cohesion and stability: Mazunte and Solan had a real brawl the other day. (They're the same size now.) If I hadn't hooked Solan's collar to a chain and whacked him on the head with a club until he let go so I could drag Mazunte away they would still have been at it. Unacceptable as this is: If you surround yourself with life you are going to surround yourself with problems, too.


Andy in Germany said...

Sounds quite a serious brawl. Is this a long term disagreement, or something that built up over time and had to be let out? or was itsomeone peeing in the wrong water bowl?

Northmark said...

Questions that prove great insight into canine psychology!

Not so much a long time disagreement. Solan was smelling something exceedingly interesting. Mazunte trotted over to smell it too, and was informed with a growl that he was not invited. He insisted, kept pestering Solan, and Solan exploded. Suddenly they had each other's skulls inside each other's jaws. (Always impressive how they do that.)

In this situation, if you're a lone human, you really must fasten one of the dogs to something, because if you manage to tear them apart they will lunge at each other immediately.

I've experienced this kind of situation on the trail only once, right at the start of a trip, and have carried a long chain with me ever since.

Normally I can detect when a fight is brewing. Making loud, macho noises usually just excites them further, sweet talking and distracting them works better. But there's a really small window of opportunity to do this. A split second too late, and there's blood and spit everywhere.

Simply pulling fighting dogs apart is often not a good idea, as this will lead small perforations to turn into long gouges. Shocking one dog to release their grip is better. I've heart some mushers bite the offending dog's ear or twist their balls, but I am here to tell you that this does not work.

Fights almost always occur when the dogs run loose and have pent-up energy, or when they're hooked up for a trip, just before take-off. After just a couple of minutes running all ideas about fighting evaporate.

Andy in Germany said...

Remarkably similar to having three boys of kindergarten age. Glad to hear it wasn't some kind of challenge to the alpha male.