I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately. Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to put a square peg in a round hole. I admit, I’m feeling at a loss as to what to do.
It’s not a secret that Morgan is a challenging dog. At first, I thought that it was just part of her being a German Shepherd. I wasn’t terribly familiar with the breed, but I can tell you that it was obvious from the very beginning that Morgan was very different from the Greyhounds. She loved them, but they mystified her. She decided they were her flock and she worked to protect them. I can still remember how agitated she got the night Lilac stepped on Bunny which resulted in Bunny snapping on her nose and her breaking a toenail at the same time. Lilac did not want to cooperate with our attempts to patch her up, and Morgan was very concerned that we were doing something to Lilac that we shouldn’t be.
I am not certain what she would do if someone broke into our house while we were gone, but I have a strong instinct that if we were home that she would be very aggressive with an intruder. Sometimes she isn’t even crazy about people coming in that we say are alright. She is protection in overdrive.
I never doubt that her heart is in the right place, it’s her mind that I wonder about. There have been a pattern of incidents that have happened that I haven’t talked about, but all of it is painting a picture for us. The first thing that was a red flag happened at the end of last summer or beginning of fall.
We went hiking at Starved Rock, which is one of our favorite places. It was a nicer than usual day and we decided to walk around the visitor center a little and get a few pictures of Bunny and Morgan there. That is not something that would normally be a problem. On this day, it was incredibly busy there, though, because of the nice weather. However, as we were on our way out, we encountered a woman who became extremely excited when she saw Mo. I’m sure most of you have seen a little girl begin screaming when she gets excited about something she really likes. Imagine a grown woman with three daughters doing that. Even her friend who was with her chastised her for the way she carried on. Her response was “I’m just excited, okay!” They asked if they could pet the dogs, and from my position behind them, it felt like watching a scene in The Matrix where everything moves in slow motion. I tried to move ahead with Bunny to allow them to pet her, because I could see that Morgan was pretty agitated, but my husband, standing in front of her, couldn’t see her body language and he replied, “Sure!”
The next thing I knew, this girl (who looked around nine years old) was right in Morgan’s face, and Morgan snapped. She bumped the girl’s face with her snout and scared the girl pretty badly, not to mention me. The girl wasn’t hurt, and if Morgan intended to hurt her, she would have done serious, serious damage. I’m not sure how I managed to walk back to the van because my legs felt like jelly. It was a warning for us and we began taking her out in high traffic areas like that a lot less. I know a lot of people will say that the woman and girl were wrong to treat her the way they did, and that’s true, but Morgan was still wrong, too, and we have expectations for all our dogs in regards to their behavior. I don’t want my dogs to ruin the fun of places like Starved Rock for all dogs.
We did a lot of work with her and became a lot more vigilant. On our New Year’s hike, we ran into a couple with two children, and Bunny made the greetings while Morgan watched from a distance. We politely told them that she isn’t fond of strangers and she did okay with that.
Then we had the incident with the baby while we were babysitting. Morgan literally lost her mind. I’ve never seen her become so unhinged. An hour after the baby went to bed, she jumped on me and left some nasty bruises and scratches as she tried to take in the scent of the baby. This behavior was over the top, even for Morgan. She couldn’t listen to anything we said. It really was like seeing her have some kind of mental breakdown, and it left bruises on my heart.
The latest straw, however, is that she has been involved in two incidents with her pack mates in the last two and a half weeks. We were at the dog park one day at the end of my break because Morgan and Küster really needed to burn off some steam and the black tornado really has never had a chance to play in the snow. Last year, be barely got any all winter, so when we got a little this year, we took them over to play a little, and Bunny went as well. Küster can be a punk sometimes and he was really being a bratty little brother. I don’t blame Mo for telling him off. However, neither one of them likes to back down, and to our surprise, they had a fight there at the dog park. My husband ended up getting bitten by Küster, but neither of the dogs was hurt. Bunny pretended she didn’t know either of them on the way home.
Thursday night, Morgan wouldn’t leave Bunny alone and finally, Bunny gave her a mean bark. The next thing we knew, Morgan was going after her, very aggressively, and Bunny didn’t back down. My husband grabbed her and put her in the crate, where she had to spend the night because she was just too amped up and wouldn’t quit posturing. It’s frightening and upsetting.
I’m at a loss as to what to do for her. She loves us deeply, and yet, I feel like we are dealing with a multiple personality. There’s the sweet Morgan that melts my heart and the crazy Morgan who acts irrationally. At times, I’m not even sure if she is in control of what she’s doing. When she gets into one of her moods, she has a total one track mind and nothing deters her. Redirecting doesn’t work, giving her something else to do doesn’t work, calling on familiar behaviors doesn’t focus her and even correction really doesn’t do the trick.
What I do know is that I love her deeply, and I want to find something that works for her and for all of us. We may explore better living through chemistry. Another part of me wonders if we are just not the right people for her. Maybe she would be happier as an only dog. I can’t imagine that she enjoys being this high strung, either. I’m also aware that we have a responsibility to protect the other dogs in our home. I can’t let her get away with hurting them, hurting us or hurting someone else. I want to find a solution that will allow her to be a happy dog that we can all live with.
I’m sorry that this post wasn’t the usual light-hearted fare that we usually offer, and that this post is so long, but my hope is that we can find some answers. If anybody reading this has ideas to offer, I am happy to hear them. I’m also hoping to explain a bit about why Morgan isn’t always out and about with us. I know some of her fans feel that she isn’t represented enough here on the blog, but I have really been struggling with this for a while. We are trying to find a balance that works for all of us, and maybe share some things that work and don’t work along the way.
We’re participating in this Saturday’s Pet Blog Hop, hosting by Life With Dogs, Two Little Cavaliers and Confessions of the Plume. If you’d like to participate, please follow the rules and follow your three hosts, add your blog to the Linky and copy and paste the html code into your html editor. Thanks again to our hosts for putting on the hop!