Fourth & Fifth Scuffle

I'm wondering if I should stop counting the fights. It'll be embarrassing if I get up to number 50 or something ridiculous on this blog.

We had over a week of peace, and then two fights within 24 hours. What gives? Maybe I was hoping for too much too soon. Maybe my expectations were unrealistic.

I broke up the last fight they had. I had never broken up a fight before; Yun broke up all the previous ones. It took me a lot longer to break it up than Yun. It lasted like 10 seconds. I ended up using a pillow to wedge between them. And then I squished Loki against the bed with the pillow. For whatever reason, this worked to snap him out of it and calm him down. It worked better than our typical "relax" command. In about 2-3 minutes after the fight broke up, everyone was fine. Jujube had a smile on her face. Loki was lying on his back ready for belly rubs. Yun was fine. But I was still a nervous wreck! It took me awhile to recover. I sustained no physical damage, just mental. This is opposite of Yun, the last fight he broke up, he sustained physical damage, but no mental.

[Disclaimer: I am merely reporting what I did. I am not advising or suggesting that anyone to use a pillow as a way to break up a dog fight. I'm not a dog expert.]

Other than our scuffles, the two dogs are great together. They love to play with each other. They wrestle. And most recently, they have started to lick each other. It's so cute. Loki flinches away when she tries to lick him. And he licks her too!

After fights, we try not to really separate them. Well, wait, let me re-phrase. We try to minimize the separation to only what we think is necessary. If Loki is still showing signs of aggression, then we do separate. But if he completely does snap out of it like this last fight, then we don't. We think it's best to minimize the separation, because separation appears to build up tension and frustration between the two.

I can't really figure out what triggers these fights. I just don't get it. Well, the first two were obvious - toy aggression and possessiveness over the couch. But the rest have been a puzzle. I've no clue what the triggers are, which is very frustrating.

They don't seem to do any major damage, though blood was drawn at least once. And after we break up every fight, Jujube always wimpers and limps. At first we were concerned about the limping, but then like 5 minutes later, she'll be running around like nothing happened. I don't get it. Maybe it's a strategy to show the other dog that she's hurt, so he'll stop attacking.



Oh what fun it is to romp and run through the snow!

Peeing & Pooping

When we were house shopping, one of our main criteria was a fenced yard. But after we moved into our townhouse, Loki never used the backyard for peeing or pooping. What the heck?! He refused to go & we had to take him out on a leash around the neighborhood just like when we lived in apartments. We could have tried to train him by never letting him go anywhere else except the backyard, but that would require too much effort. And it would risk accidents in the house, because Loki would have gone on a pooping/peeing strike. So we gave up on using the backyard as his bathroom.

But when we got Jujube, everything changed. She didn't pee or poop on walks, instead she went in the backyard. And surely enough, Loki followed suit. Yay! Now we just let the dogs out in the backyard. It's so convenient! We love it. Thank you, Jujube!

The two of them instinctively divided up the backyard into a "play" area and a "bathroom" area. I'm not sure how they know, but they do. We always find the poop in the same left quadrant of the yard.

Here they are in their "play" area. Loki is the one lying down and Juju is the one standing up.

Here's Jujube. I finally got a shot of her. She is extremely difficult to shoot. She never stays still and she loves to be close. If I kneel down with the camera, she'll come running up to me. She'll lick the camera if I'm not careful. She's very attached to humans. Very.

And here's Loki, who is much easier to shoot. He stays relatively still and remains at a distance.

Separation Anxiety

Jujube has bad separation anxiety. She gets anxious, whines incessantly, paces, and paws at the door. For the past few days, I tried to do some slow desensitization with her, but I know it's not enough for her. I had to go back to work today. What can I do? I have to go to work, but yet feel so guilty about it.

Two days ago, I practiced going out and returning calmly. Ignoring her both when I left and returned, trying to make the whole ordeal as much of a non issue as I could. I would leave for like 5 seconds. I worked it up to however long it takes me to get the mail. I did this like 20 times. I'm not really sure she got any better.

The good thing is Loki got better. He would used to bark at her for whining and being so unstable. But through my repetitive in and out, Loki started to ignore Juju's whining.

Yesterday, I left to grab a bite at McDonalds; it couldn't have been more than 10 minutes. I put her in the exercise pen. By the time I returned, she had contorted the pen into some odd shape that left her with hardly any room at all and she spilled her water bowl.

After that, I tried an even lesser demanding desensitization exercise. I put her in the bedroom and closed the door, just so that she would be physically separated from me in the house. Wow... that still made her just as anxious as before. Whining, pacing, pawing. I even spoke to her, so she knew I was there. I repeatedly said, "Calm down," in my most soothing voice. And opened the door only when she finally gave up the whining and slumped down next to the door. We did that 10 times over. I think that's the level that a proper desensitization program for her would have to start at. Even going in and out of the house is too much for her.

I know she needs a slower rate of desensitization than I can give her. But what can I do? I have to go to work. Yun agreed to stop by during his lunch hour. That's the best we can do now.

Third Scuffle

Yikes! We had our third scuffle last night. Neither one of us was in the room when it happened. The dogs were in the bedroom and the humans momentarily went to discuss the plumbing in our master bathroom.

Boo... I hope this gets better soon.

They seem to get over their fights relatively quickly. It doesn't take too long before they are back to being playmates. They like to wrestle. Jujube sticks her butt in Loki's face to solicit play. He tries to hump her, and then she shakes him off. She's very good at using her butt as a weapon. Loki... not so much. Loki's more pawsy.

Too smart...

The breeder warned us. She told us that Essie (now named Jujube) was the smartest dog on their property. Smart doesn't mean good. Wow, she really is smart.
  1. We bought a new bag of liver treats and Yun was trying to lure her into the bathroom so that we could give her a bath. He had one piece in his hand and was calling out to get her attention. Juju completely ignored him and went straight for the BAG, which Yun had set down randomly in the opposite direction. She showed him!
  2. I put her outside in our backyard to poop and pee. Ten minutes later, I open the basement door, so that I can access the backdoor to the backyard, and find her standing in front of me. In the basement. Not outside. The backdoor open.
  3. She has terrible separation anxiety. I thought maybe crating her would make her feel a bit safer. I put her in the crate and ran a 10 minute errand. When I returned, she's out of her crate. She showed me!
Boy, Loki sure is dumb.

Some good playtime

Sunday morning 7:30am, I was a nervous wreck. We had crated the two dogs for the night. Since our last scuffle, we had continually kept them separated. I didn't know what to do. Do I open up Juju's crate first? Loki's crate first? Etc.

I had to wake up my husband for support. I knew that I couldn't keep them separated forever. And in fact, I think keeping them separated was doing more harm than good. It was building up more frustrated energy.

With his help, we decided to hand feed both of them. One kibble for Juju. One kibble for Loki, as long as he was good and didn't display signs of aggression. I think we'll continue hand feeding both for awhile. (Yesterday's breakfast didn't go over so well. Juju ate Loki's food. He got pissed about that one. They didn't fight at that point, but we think it created the animosity for other scuffles.)

After breakfast, I watched them both very carefully and stopped Loki as soon as he displayed signs of aggression, such as fixating on her, growling, barking, or lifting his lips. I was very careful to make sure they had their own personal space and didn't let them get close to each other. I had to stop Loki a couple times and put him in a relax position. Things weren't exactly all better at this point, but at least I felt like I had the situation under control. I started to gain confidence in my ability to handle them.

Then I took the two of them out for a walk around our neighborhood. They seem to have no issues with walking together outdoors. Loki had no problems with her encroaching on his personal space, and Juju typically walked in front of Loki.

Around 11am, the two of them decided to be friendly and play with each other in the bedroom. Yay! I was SO glad. So relieved to see them be nice and play. They chased each other around like crazy, knocking over the plastic water bowl, jumping on and off the bed.

Here are a couple snapshots of them playing in the bedroom.

Here you can see Loki's injury above his eye from the first scuffle. Poor Loki. He was the bully and instigator, but apparently, he was also the one who got hurt.

The rest of the day went very well. They played more together in the backyard. Running around like crazy, chasing each other. Then they played some more in the basement. Running in circles and even some wrestling. Loki tried to hump Juju, but she's very good at using her butt to shake him off. She wouldn't let him get on top of her at all.

Here they are tonight, peacefully sharing the couch. Maybe I'm asking for trouble by not demanding that they both get off, but they seem to be doing so well. Maybe it's better to just enjoy the peace. Loki's learning to share.

Second Scuffle

We had our second scuffle the evening on the same day as the first scuffle. Juju tried to jump on the couch... that is, what Loki perceives to be HIS couch. And apparently, Loki attacked her. Again, I wasn't in the room at the time. Yun already broke it up by the time I got there. All in all, these fights don't last more than 5 seconds.

Loki is being very territorial and possessive. We call it the only child syndrome. He doesn't know how to share anything. I don't think it's exactly a heirarchy issue; it's not exactly dominance. He's not being dominant. We assess his behavior to be more unbalanced and neurotic. Not dominant. Dominance would be if he claimed his space and asserted himself so that she gets off the couch. In these scuffles, he is just plain attacking. Juju doesn't challenge him back. She may defend, but she's the one to back off. She doesn't want to fight. If it were dominance, then wouldn't the attack end as soon as the other one displays submission?

We decided that the couch is now off limits entire to Loki. We have to establish the fact that the couch does not belong to him. For now, we decided to enforce the rule for a month. Then we'll reassess the situation.

We think that he's being more aggressive today rather than when he first met her because he's starting to understand that the "visitor" status is now permanent. His socialization with dogs previously has always been in the context of visitors -- a temporary playmate. And he's pretty good with a temporary playmate. The two of them did play the first night. But now I think he's starting to understand that the new visitor isn't temporary.

Our solution so far is to put Loki in the exercise pen. He's the one being locked up and punished, because he's the bully. But I wonder if that will make things worse. I'm not sure. If you believe in pack heirarchy, we are effectively telling Loki that Juju is higher on the totem pole than he is. Will that make him want to challenge her more? Are we setting them up for more fights in the future? But on the other hand, how can we not punish him? We can't ignore or condone the fact that he is the one attacking.

I am trying to remain optimistic. It is a bit emotionally difficult. The really nice thing though is that so far Juju has displayed absolutely no signs of aggression.


We had our first scuffle the morning after we got Jujube. It wasn't over food. Breakfast time went okay. Not perfect, but okay. The scuffle was over a ball. I think I forgot to warn Yun that toys can be a source of aggression. I was on the phone with my mom when all of a sudden I heard some serious screaming and yelping. I quickly hung up with my mom and ran upstairs. By then Yun already broke up the fight.

I put Loki into a "relax" command, while Yun checked Juju all over to make sure that she was okay. (Relax is what we interpret to be an alpha roll. We've trained him to obey that command, so he just lies on his side with his head on the ground.) She wasn't hurt.

The scuffle was over a ball. Yun was tossing a ball for them, when Loki decided to lash out at Juju. Yes, not a good idea. But I forgot to warn Yun about that.

Learning more about Jujube

Jujube is definitely a licker. Last night, Loki growled in her face. She just looked at him and then licked him. How cute is that?

She woke both of us up this morning by licking our faces. Hm... I quickly learned to keep my mouth shut.

I dragged myself out of bed at 8am, because I knew I should take the dogs out. While I was getting ready, Jujube had an accident in our bedroom. Aww... I guess I didn't get ready fast enough. Then I took them both out and walked around our neighborhood. Walking two dogs was surprisingly easy. Not much more difficult than walking one. And it definitely put me into a pack leader role much easier than when I was walking only Loki. With one dog, sometimes I give in and let him go where he wants to go. Or let him pee where he wants to pee. With two dogs, it's much more clear that I determine when we walk and when we stop for a potty break. Anyways, Loki marked all over the place like usual, while Juju didn't go once. Not at all. Huh? What gives? Did she empty her entire bladder on our carpet? Maybe.

At 11am, we decided to take both dogs on our long walk for some bonding time. It was well below freezing. Sigh. Our entire family went for a 3.8 mile walk. For the entire walk, Jujube neither peed nor pooped. What gives?

When we arrived home, Yun had an idea. Maybe she would go in our backyard. Sure enough, he let her out and she immediately went to pee. I guess that is how she must have been trained back at her breeders. Makes sense. And she only goes once -- empties her bladder. No marking.

So we have one dog that does not go in our backyard, but goes on walks. And another dog that does not go on walks, but goes in our backyard. This will be fun.

Introducing Jujube!

Very late last night, we picked up Jujube (formerly known as Essie) from the airport. We didn't get her until close to midnight. First thing we did was put our hands up to the crate. Lick, Lick, Lick. Well, that's the first difference between her and Loki. She's a licker. Loki is not. I thought it was sweet. We put her up on a baggage cart and rolled her out to our car. We put her new leash on & walked her around a little bit in the parking lot. Then I sat in the back seat with her as we drove home.

At first she remained standing. Perhaps too anxious to sit or lay down. I didn't talk much to her, but held her to provide some support as the car leaned during turns. I kept wondering when she would feel comfortable enough to sit down. At the time, it seemed forever, but in reality, I think it was only about 10 minutes. Finally, she lay down in my lap.

When we got home, Yun let me and Jujube out by the grassy area, while he went to get Loki. It was freezing and past midnight by this point. She sniffed and explored extensively. We wonder if she was trying to find a scent so that she could go back home. She didn't pee or poop.

Yun brought Loki out and they met by the grassy area in front of our community. She didn't seem terribly interested in him, but he was pretty interested in sniffing her. Then we brought them back into our home together.

She definitely loved exploring our home. She has absolutely no problems with our hardwood floor and has made Loki much less nervous about walking on hardwood.

We gave her a bath last night. Someone, somewhere had recommended that a new dog should be bathed to remove the scent of their old home. Not sure how much it helps, but sure, we gave it a try. She didn't seem to enjoy the bath, but showed zero signs of aggression.

After the bath, we let her roam freely along with Loki. The two of them had a bout of play for awhile. It sounded like a tornado with all the chasing back and forth. Lots of play bows and lots of energy. It was at that point I felt that things are going to be okay.

Finally at 2:08am, we all went to sleep.

Plans for introducing our second dog

Plans for tomorrow.

We are almost all set. Well, okay, not quite – we don’t yet have a food and water bowls for our new arrival tomorrow. (That's our errand for tonight.) At least, I already bought a collar and leash.

Our second dog will be arriving tomorrow by plane. Welcoming her into our household is conceptually a two step process. One, she has to accept us as her new pack leaders. Two, she has to accept Loki as part of her pack.

First things first. I’ve decided that we should pick her up at the airport without Loki. It will probably be late at night, so I don’t think we will have time for a long walk, as Cesar Millan would suggest. We can probably do a short walk around our neighborhood.

Second, we need to introduce her to Loki. I hope that our neighborhood will be neutral enough of a territory. Loki is familiar with the area, but it’s not our territory. But I can’t be 100% certain that he doesn’t regard it as such. That’s probably the best I can do late at night.

I’m planning on hand feeding our new dog the first few days to build up some trust and for some good bonding. We'll be on alert to prevent any possible food aggression. I have 100% faith that we will be able to feed them both peacefully. It might not happen right away, but that is the goal.
For night time, I'm planning on crating both by our bed. Loki is used to sleeping where ever he wants, but this past week, I've been trying to get him used to being locked up in his crate again for bedtime. I think I'll do this for as long as is necessary. We'll just have to play it by ear.

I'm planning on taking our whole pack for a long walk around the lake the following morning. That's the best I can do as a new pack bonding experience, given her late plane arrival. A long walk together is Cesar Millan's number one suggestion.

Anyways, I'm optimistic about the outcome of our soon-to-be two dog household. A little bit apprehensive, a little bit excited, and a little bit hopeful.

Loki meets a horse

It's fun and healthy to broaden the life experiences of our pets. Think about it. You spend your own life thinking about all the things you want to do before you die. Perhaps going to Paris is on your list. Perhaps learning to scuba dive is on your list. We all have some sort of list.

But our pets don't and don't have a choice about it. Shouldn't we offer them new experiences? Now, maybe I've humanizing animals. Maybe it doesn't matter to them one way or another. Still, if nothing else, I find great joy in showing Loki something new and seeing his reaction.

Here he is meeting a horse for the very first time. The horse was just as curious about us as Loki was of the horse.

Sniff, sniff, sniff... Smells interesting.

Hey, come back down here. You're too tall!

Let's play!

Marley & Me, the movie

Marley & Me is a heart-warming, funny, feel good movie that I can’t imagine anyone not liking. I highly recommend it. I’d say it’s a great family film, except that the ending of the movie is just like the ending of the book – yes, I felt like the whole theater was crying. So I recommend it to families with kids who are old enough to understand the concept of death. Since it is based off of a memoir, I think it appeals more to adults than kids.

The casting was well done. I thought it was a bit funny that Jennifer Aniston was playing a character named Jenny. She was very good in that part. She’s not a versatile actress, but the one type of character she knows how to play, she does very well. Owen Wilson was also a good pick.

I could definitely tell that they used different dogs to portray Marley, but I didn’t know that they used 22 dogs! I watched a bit of the credits waiting to see the dogs used to portray Marley. I gave up after they started listing Jennifer Aniston’s hairdressers. I thought there might have been just 3 or 4 dogs, in which case they would list the dogs towards the beginning of the credits along with the main cast. After I got home, I looked it up online and discovered that 22 dogs were used. Twenty-two! That’s a lot of golden labs on a movie set.

Marley & Me resonates with me because I relate to the author’s life. The movie (and book) begins with John Grogan marrying his wife, Jenny. The young couple gets a puppy to start out their family before having children. I feel like that’s the stage in life that I’m in now. We’ll add a second dog to our family in a few weeks, and then maybe in a couple years we’ll add a baby.

You are stronger than you think you are

My theme for 2009 is
You are stronger than you think you are.

Before we got Loki, I automatically thought that Yun would be the pack leader of our family. He’s male. He has (or seems to have) a more dominant and assertive personality. I’m clearly more timid, fearful, and submissive. Or at least I thought so.

After almost two years of raising Loki, it turns out that I’m actually the pack leader of our family. No one is more surprised by this fact than me.

This year, I resolve to apply this ‘life lesson from Loki’ to other parts of my life.
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