As the Dogs Turn…

You know, if we finally make this adoption happen, I swear I’m starting a new “dog blog” (with a catchier name than that, but I don’t want to make that public unless this works out). Because considering everything these guys have already been through, they’re gonna have a lot more stories to tell…

Last Wednesday night, Mica and I went to meet the new dog (we’ll just call him PA, for “Prospective Adoptee”, shall we?). There was a bit of snarking and posturing on Mica’s part that was at least partially my fault (nerves), but no actual fighting, which was good. So we went back on Thursday and walked with PA again, and it went rather swimmingly. We set up a home visit for Sunday (yesterday, as you read this, today as I write it).

Mica snarked a tiny bit at the beginning of our walk through “his” neighborhood, but after that, all went very well. We took the dogs back to our backyard, turned them loose, and aside from Mica being his normal excitable self for the first few minutes (and PA ignoring him, thankfully), everything was still going really well. Just normal dog-stuff, peeing contests, and exploring. Then PA decided to push his luck (it had to happen sometime), and tried to hump Mica (a dominant move – and don’t give me any of that crap about how pack theory is dead, because I’m sorry, I don’t buy that).

Needless to say, Mica took offense. I saw it escalating, and I couldn’t see any way for either dog to really back down (I knew Mica wouldn’t), and I stepped closer trying to stop it. In hindsight, that was a bad move. It might have still escalated into a fight, but it might not have, too, and the outcome would have been the same even if it had. I should have stood back and waited.

In any case, ten seconds later we were prying dogs apart and checking for injuries, which thankfully were small and not serious for either dog. PA didn’t seem bothered by it at all…he was back to his normal happy-go-lucky self five minutes later.

Mica, on the other hand, was pretty freaked out by the whole thing. He was shaking (but he often does when stressed – we think he has neurological or nerve damage from something in his past), but more importantly, exhibiting fear-submissive behaviors. Wagging his tail fast with his head/ears down puppy-style, refusing treats until PA had his, and generally just trying to stay away from PA/out of the way for the duration. We made sure both dogs were at least somewhat mellowed out before PA left, but even after they’d been gone for awhile, when I reached down to flip Mica’s collar ring flat as he laid on the floor, he about jumped out of his skin, poor dog (yes, he’s fine now…it just took him awhile and a walk to work through that adrenaline & the ensuing crash).

I think their relationship could go either way at this point. Mica’s fear could manifest as submission, which will make PA the dominant and they’ll figure out how to work from there (which is fine – I don’t care who’s on top, so to speak, as long as I know so I can reinforce it). As long as they can work that out *without* Mica being afraid of PA all the time, we’ll be good. If Mica ends up both submissive and perpetually fearful, that will be a major problem.

The worse thing would be if Mica’s fear manifests as aggression. If he’s constantly lashing out at PA just to make sure he attacks before he’s attacked, that won’t work at all. I don’t *think* that will happen (PA didn’t attack him when they fought, he attacked PA), but it’s a possibility.

So…there are a lot of ways this could easily still go wrong, and one way it could easily go right (with several shades in each category, of course). The kicker is, even if Mica does accept the submissive role to PA, he’s still not going to put up with that whole humping display (or any physical display, I dare say – he has personal space issues, from before we adopted him, so he takes these things more personally than other dogs). So that’s something we’re all going to have to work on getting fixed…and it might take awhile, because PA is not going to give it up overnight (or easily).

These are both rescue dogs, so they both have behaviors and…well, personality quirks that are the result of their past lives, and we just have to let them decide whether they can get past all that and learn to live together, or if the baggage they carry is just too much to fit into one house.

PA is coming over again tonight so he and Mica can take another little walk together, and then spend some more time in the backyard. If they do okay, we’ll either plan another backyard “date”, and just go from there. Baby steps. If it doesn’t go passibly okay (ie, if they’re fighting constantly, or I see a lot of fear aggression from Mica, or more “pushy” dominant moves from PA), then I may just pull the plug. I really want this to work, but I don’t want to do any further damage to either dog’s psyche while we’re at it. They both have enough issues to deal with on a daily basis.

Cross your paws, if you will! Here’s hoping they’ve calmed down and can work things out more “civilly* this week…