Healing A Dog’s Mental State

So TaeWoo mentioned on his post about Alpha Pack Leader that Brownie (our golden colored dog) got “pushed out of the game day 1” – meaning his position as alpha leader was overthrown by Cocoa. I’m going to actually correct TaeWoo’s statement that Lucky (over Brownie) use to be the Alpha Dog before Cocoa’s existence. It was actually the reverse. So here’s a little more history to the story…

I use to have a dog named Ricky. She was very much adored and most beloved by my brother. At some point, her babies passed due to a virus and her mate went missing so she ended up being our only dog for awhile. One day, a couple of guys walked into my parent’s (ex-) liquor store and asked if we wanted to purchase a dog. Seeing that Ricky could use a companion, we ended up bringing the little guy in. I named him Lucky. Ricky was obviously the alpha dog at the time. She always showed Lucky that she was the boss – he’d wait for her to eat first, wait for her to sleep first in her chosen bed, and snap at him if he did anything she didn’t approve of. Everything was set the way it was until Brownie came into the picture.

My uncle had found a stray dog roaming around his neighborhood. With several attempts to find the owner of the dog with no tag or collar, he decided to add him to the family. After a couple of weeks passed, they felt a third dog was too much for them so they brought him to my Parent’s house. Of course, we readily took him in even though we had absolutely no plans on getting another dog.

The beginning of a new doggie entrance is always interesting because they always duke it out to see who’s going to become the leader. Again, Ricky won the position of alpha dog hands down. In fact, she protected Lucky from Brownie. If she saw Brownie growl at Lucky she would snap at him. Incredible huh?

Sadly, Ricky passed away around two years ago due to old age and with her passing emerged a new leader. Brownie took over and Lucky would cower. When we bought two differnt tent houses for each dog, Brownie and Lucky would fight between the tents by barking at each other. When it came to eating time, Brownie would never let Lucky eat first, but of course a new doggie entrance means change.

Cocoa was born – brought to my family by the same uncle who brought us Brownie. I’m not sure where my uncle and aunt got Cocoa, but I do know that he entered our family at around four months old. His ears were big and floppy – super adorable. Like TaeWoo mentioned in his Alpha Dog Blog, Cocoa and Lucky would battle each other for a few days straight. Cocoa won, but what’s more interesting is that there seems to be a level of respect which Cocoa gives to Lucky. On the other hand, Cocoa is constantly bothering Brownie – humping him, pushing him aside with his butt, kicking him with his hind legs, and blocking him from eating. Eventually Brownie started showing signs of fear, defeat, and wimpiness. It didn’t help that our attention was always toward Cocoa and Lucky. In fact, I thought he was emotionally and mentally damaged forever. We thought it was Karma (him picking on Lucky is getting back at him).

We felt really sorry for the poor fella so the other day we actually brought him back to our apartment by himself and left the other two pooches with my parents. Who would’ve thought that one full day alone with us would nourish and heal him. The next day we brought all three pooches with us to our apartment and just as Cocoa starts to bother Brownie, Brownie actually starts to defend himself – something he hadn’t done is so long. What’s even funnier is that when TaeWoo plays a combination of fetch and tug-o’-war, Brownie would act like he’s protecting TaeWoo from the evil Cocoa. I can’t really explain it, but it’s a real relief to know that we’ve somehow gave him more confidence by giving him one-on-one attention and affection.

Long story short, if you have more than one dog, make sure you give each dog some individual time. I’m sure reactions vary dog to dog, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to try different methods of healing a dogs soul – one that’s been left behind.

We love you, Brownie.

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Here’s a picture of Ricky when she was pregrant many many moons ago. She will always be remembered.

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