The last week has been a whirlwind of events and emotions around here. The first phase of editing on the first book of the Chucklers series is done. I’ll have to see where we go from here, but we’re getting closer to publication by the day. We’re still working on cover ideas, but that’s also progressing.
In the meantime, I’m back at work on the next Severed Press project, End Point Pangaea. As of this writing, I’m about 4000 words into it, and trying not to let the dark tone of Chucklers invade the new project too much. I had to completely delete a few scenes I had written when I decided they were simply too gruesome for EPP. But the project is ongoing, and I’ll be putting a new progress meter in the side column shortly.
Other stuff –
Back in March when all the nasty weather blew through here, our roof took some minor hail damage. We finally got around to getting someone out to give us an estimate, and now I’m in the middle of an argument between the roofer, who has an interest in getting the roof completely replaced (because, let’s face it, this is how roofers make money), and the insurance company, who has an interest in simply having it repaired (because, let’s face it, this is how the insurance company saves money). So the insurance adjuster says the damage isn’t that bad, the roofer says it’s worse than the adjuster is admitting, and I’m standing between them, uncomfortably recalling little league baseball games where parents are yelling at the umpire (“What? Are you blind, ump?”).
And now, I have a check for what the insurance company says they’ll pay, and I’m waiting to see if the roofer can do the necessary repairs for that cost. And now that the deal has been done, they’re making me wish I’d never started the whole process. Man, I hate dealing with stuff like this.
Other other stuff –
You’ve seen me write about my dogs, Bella and Cricket, and you know how much I love them. A few years ago, the two of them got into their first fight. Cricket was clearly the instigator, evidently not realizing that she was only half the size of her pack mate. We broke them apart, and honestly, Bella seemed shocked that it had happened. She broke off as soon as MBH and I got involved, but Cricket kept re-engaging, going so far as to run all the way around a table to get back into the fray. She actually ended up biting me during the fight and I got a nasty infection on my arm. The final outcome was a few stitches for both of them, and a doctor’s visit and a vet bill for us.
Several months later, it happened again. Cricket triggered and attacked Bella, with even worse results. I suppose Bella, who had always been a marshmallow up to that point, realized that she had the upper hand in a fight, and she tore Cricket up pretty easily with very little damage to herself.
There were a few more fights over the next year, and things slowly shifted from Cricket being the aggressor, to Bella attacking instead.
We’ve tried repeatedly to figure out what causes the fights. For the longest time, we were convinced that it was simple jealousy over MBH’s affection. At first, it always seemed to happen when she was holding Cricket in her lap. Maybe that made Cricket feel especially brave or something, but after the first couple of times, we made it a point to make sure neither dog was allowed on the furniture.
Another time, it happened when I got down on the floor with them, between the couch and a pair of footstool/storage cubes we have. I don’t know if it was the enclosed area, or the fact that I was on the floor with them, but Bella went from happy and tail wagging to attack mode in less than a second. No growl or warning of any kind. Just a sudden attack.
Lately, it’s been happening more frequently. Last week, Bella was on her blanket behind my chair in the den. Cricket was laying in a little bed beside my chair. MBH and I were eating, and Bella got up, started to walk past Cricket, and next thing I knew, she was on Cricket, tearing into her for the fourth time in as many weeks.
At that point, I was becoming convinced there was something mentally wrong with Bella. The thought that she was becoming so dangerous that we were going to have to put her down was tearing me up, but I didn’t see anything else we could do. In my eyes, Bella had clearly become a loose cannon… a dangerously aggressive loose cannon.
Then MBH found some information on a website that described our situation perfectly. It was from an article on a book called “Dogs on the Couch” by Larry Lachman. It said:
When it comes to fighting between dogs in the same household, there are four common characteristics:
* Dogs are of the same sex.
* Dogs fight only in the owner’s presence.
* Dogs are adult dogs, four years or older.
* Fights involve a struggle for which one will be the dominant dog in the family pack. And in these cases, the owners frequently choose to wrong dog as the dominant dog and begin treating him as such. Or the owners attempt to treat the dogs equally and democratically.
Well, that described our situation to a “T”. Both of our girls are… well, girls. The fights only happen around MBH or myself. Bella is seven years old, Cricket is five. And we’ve always tried to treat the girls as if they were equals.
I’m telling you, no matter how much Dog Whisperer you watch on TV, nothing prepares you for the fact that the reason your dogs are fighting… is you.
Dogs are not people, and have a hierarchical mentality. One dog MUST be superior to the other, or they will fight for dominance in the eyes of the human leaders of their pack. In trying to treat them equally, we had unwittingly created an unbalanced dynamic in our pack. We were basically telling the girls, “we don’t know which of you is dominant, so you have to figure it out.”
There were all sorts of recommendations as to how to “repair” our pack, but they are long-term solutions, involving weeks of training. And at the rate that they’ve been fighting, we don’t know if Cricket will survive long enough. As it is, she seems to be wondering why we’re suddenly showing preferential treatment to Bella. There’s no way she can understand that it’s pretty much to keep her from being killed. But she does seem to understand that she’s no longer being treated as the cute little girl who nudges our hands for affection. Now, instead of affection, she’s being corrected for horning in on Bella’s time.
So while we’re going through the exercises and adjustments, trying to correct the situation that we caused, we’re also trying to find Cricket a new home. She needs a home where she’s the only dog. Where she can get all the attention she craves, because she’s one that loves to cuddle up with her humans… loves to bump your hand with her nose so you’ll pet her. She really is a sweetie, and it’s not her fault that we didn’t create a proper pack environment.
I feel like such an idiot.
But an old friend from my old Woodlands Writers Guild days has said she might be able to take Cricket, if I can get her back down to the Houston area. And if that’s what it takes to ensure that Cricket doesn’t end up seriously injured or killed, then we’ll give her up. It will break our hearts, but we’ll do it.
Crap. It really hurts to say that.
We’ll see how it plays out, but it looks like there’s no happy ending. All we can do is try to avoid a bloody ending.
Stay safe, everyone.