Oh, Ducky… 

I started writing this post last night – and accidentally published it with just the title – but have since trashed it. So, bear with me as I try again to put the story out there into Blogville.

Last night Ducky got snarky with Shadow again. Not just the growling and grumbling type of snarky, but the nasty, scary, “I want to hurt you” type. Poor Shadow was totally taken aback, totally surprised by Ducky’s viciousness toward her. So were hubby and I. It happened so fast that even though I caught a glimpse of it coming, I couldn’t get out of my chair fast enough to prevent it. And, believe me when I say I’ve become quite adept at preventing these horrible moments. But this one I missed – the earliest clues at least – completely.

Shadow was standing near the one dog bed, looking at it as if trying to decide if she wanted to curl up on it. Ducky was standing nearby. Hubby and I were watching a movie, and at first neither of us noticed Ducky’s intense focus on Shadow. Suddenly Ducky was growling and trying to bite Shadow’s front legs while Shadow tried to back away from her. Ducky wouldn’t let go. I tried a few times to grab Ducky’s collar from behind her; but Shadow was trying to defend herself, and I didn’t want her to accidentally bite me in the process. I finally managed to grab Ducky’s collar and pull her away as Shadow backed away. I smacked Ducky on the rear end, shouted “bad girl!” at her, and then closed her in the room downstairs for a while so I could tend to Shadow. Admittedly, smacking Ducky on the butt probably was not a good idea, but she sure knew that I was angry.

Shadow was physically fine. Hubby thought he noticed her limping but then said she seemed to be walking normally. I lovingly checked her over – head to toe – and found no sign of any damage. So I gave her lots of belly and chest rubs and kisses and reassured her that she had done nothing wrong and was, as always, a very good girl. And she quickly forgave her little sister. I figured it was time to check on the little brat.

I went downstairs, clipped the long leash to Ducky’s collar, brought her back upstairs and put her in a place command on the new dog bed we received recently. She looked at me with those pleading, sorrowful eyes and fell asleep. I kept the leash attached to her collar and the handle end in my hand the rest of the night until we came in from their bedtime potty break. Hubby and I took turns watching Ducky so we could each get ready for bed. She had calmed down by then, but I wasn’t taking any chances.

Since I got up this morning I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out what caused Ducky’s “outburst” last night. At the time there didn’t seem to be any truly good “reason” for it. Shadow wasn’t anywhere near Ducky’s favorite toy. And she certainly wasn’t coveting any attention from either hubby or me.

It dawned on me that any time Ducky has been snarky with Shadow these past 15 months (since Callie became a heaven’s angel), it has been when she was feeling under the weather for whatever reason. And most of the time that reason was at least partly due to her anxieties.

Recently I’ve been seeing that Prozac may be having negative effects on dogs being treated with it, as Ducky is, for anxiety and the canine equivalent of OCD (whatever they call it in veterinary medicine). I have some research to do this weekend. On Monday I will be making an appointment with our vet to discuss Ducky’s renewed snarkiness toward Shadow. I want to go to the appointment armed with as much information as I can find so we can decide on our options. I am beyond fed up with Ducky’s snarky treatment of Shadow. While there’s no chance I would ever surrender her to the shelter, I’m not going to allow this behavior to continue without consequences that she can understand. There has to be a way to help her medically in addition to exercise and positive reinforcement. So far today she is back to being the sweet and sassy little pooch I fell in love with four years ago – playing nicely with Shadow here in the yard and in the house.

Sorry, no photos today folks. Just me thinking out loud and sharing my thoughts.

30 thoughts on “Oh, Ducky… 

    • My Golden Life says:

      Nope, not this dog mama. I’m still not 100% sure why Ducky went after Shadow that night, or why she got snarky again last night; but I’m going to find a way to put a stop to it. Poor Shadow is a good girl – always has been – and doesn’t deserve the stress. While I wait for the Trazodone to kick in, I’m upping the ante with Ducky’s behavior. When she acts respectful, she gets to be off leash most of the day; when she acts out, she wears the leash all day. And sleeps in the crate downstairs. (Her regular crate is a soft-sided one in the bedroom with Shadow and us humans.) I’m not going to let her get away with a bratty attitude, but I won’t give up on her either.

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  1. bringingupbella says:

    Oh Sue, I’m so sorry. And believe me when I say I totally know how you feel. Ugh, ugh, ugh. 😥

    You mention that you’ve seen a pattern of Ducky reacting badly when she’s not feeling well. I would encourage you to pursue that with your vet at least as strenuously as the prozac. Bella’s behavior changed drastically after she had ACL surgery. So even though we had seen vet after vet after vet trying to identify pain as a cause of her bad behavior to no avail, it is now obvious that she was the great pretender and pain definitely did have an impact on her behavior.

    In the meantime, I hope Ducky behaves herself. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Emmadog says:

    So sorry, but the good news is that no one was injured. Many multiple dogs have issues like this, you are not alone. Medications can help in some situations, a good behaviorist to help with some training can help, in many cases, the behavior is likely to worsen and not get better and dogs need to be separated at all times. It is a scary place to be. Hopefully your vet will be able to help you with medications for the pup.

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  3. mommakatandherbearcat says:

    I understand how stressful this is – especially feeling like you always have to be on guard. When I adopted Bear 10 years ago (I wasn’t looking for a second cat … he was homeless and winter was coming …) … he terrorized my almost 16 year old cat. I want to believe he was just trying to play and be friendly … but he just did not pick up on the cues to leave Kitty alone. I used a water spray in the worst cases – it gave me enough time to grab him … but it felt like my life was constant cat fights. I was nervous leaving them alone or even getting a shower. I did tons of research and introduced them properly and wracked my brain to help the situation … with no success. Any time I closed Bear (or Kitty) in a room by themselves for a break for everyone … Bear would HOWL on the other side of the door as Kitty and rip up carpet trying to dig to the other side. And he would howl for hours (four hours … six hours …) and couldn’t be distracted. This howling stressed Kitty out just as much (or maybe even more) than them being in the same room … so I couldn’t win! Eventually, after 9 months, we had a very fragile peace and then Kitty died. I’ve always wondered if Bear’s adoption had something to do with that. You love them both … you refuse to give up either … but everyone is stressed and miserable. I hope you find a way to bring some peace to everyone.

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    • My Golden Life says:

      Thanks for visiting, and for sharing your story!

      It’s interesting…I wasn’t looking for a third dog either when I found Ducky at the shelter. Back then, we had Callie still and she and Shadow really were enough for us both. But, I was working with Ducky at the shelter as part of my externship. I fell in love with her immediately. And she decided she wanted me as her human. A few months later – when she was placed on the shelter’s urgent list – I went back and adopted her. The shelter was poorly managed back then and the animals were being pts within 24 hours of placement on the urgent list. I couldn’t bear the thought of Ducky being pts, so after talking to the hubby, I went straight to the shelter and adopted her. I’ve never regretted it despite the fact that she can be a little demonbrat at times.

      Thankfully, everything was calm and peaceful around here yesterday.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Tails Around the Ranch says:

    Elsa nailed Sam this morning similarly. In a WTH moment, I vigorously ‘corrected’ the little pill. Sam had a “gee what did I do look” on his face and the raven haired Ninja had a fixed gaze.As she becomes more confident as a dog, I think she’s starting to think she and she alone deserve my full attention and like a petulant brat, not willing to share. Boy is she in for a surprise! Sorry about Ducky. Have you thought about CBD oil? It’s the non psycho-active version of hemp and also comes in treat form. It is especially helpful with anxiety issues without chemical build up in the liver (also works extremely well with epilepsy which is why I know about it). Good news, you don’t need a RX and it can be ordered online. Good luck and keep us posted on how it goes. Digital hugs and belly scratches. ღ

    Liked by 1 person

    • My Golden Life says:

      Aw, poor Sam. Shadow certainly knows how he feels. Please send me what info you have on the CBD oil/treats. I don’t know if Ducky will be able to take it, but every little bit of info will help. Thanks, Monika!

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  5. Jan K says:

    Ugh, Sue, I know what this is like and it sucks. Luckily for us so far, Luke will stop when I yell. I also have to watch them closely in certain situations, but the first time it happened it took me totally by surprise. At the time I thought it was because Sheba was maybe not feeling well and he sensed that and it stressed him out. I’ve also seen him get growly when he is stressed about strangers being around. And he has jealousy issues as well.
    I am interested to find out what you might learn further about the Prozac, since a friend of mine has just started her dog on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My Golden Life says:

      Oh Jan, I wish I knew what goes through Ducky’s hard little head sometimes! I love her dearly – as you know – but sometimes, like last night, I get angry and frustrated with her. Especially when she snarks at poor Shadow. It makes me wonder sometimes if I should have found Ducky a new home 4 years ago when I first threatened to do so. But it’s too late now. She loves us, we love her, and I’m not giving up until I find a solution. Either way, there will be a “Part 2” to this story once we talk to the vet.

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  6. christycaplan (@christycaplan) says:

    (apologize if this posts twice) A few things — I use Passion Flower with our dog Shermie that has a lot of anxiety. I know a lot of dogs that do well on Prozac too so I wonder what the side effects are – it’s SO difficult to know what sets them off… Also, I’ve had to pull a dog by the back legs to remove them from the situation and not only does it work – they also are so stunned you did it they stop what they’re doing. That said – I feel for you as our older dog has demonstrated snarky behavior for zero reason. I personally think he’s guarding me so he has his own chair now… and doesn’t share the couch with the others. That said – I also think it’s 100% when he doesn’t feel good. Although I wrestle with this at the time. I’m very sorry this happened –it takes me days to shake it off after it happens….

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    • My Golden Life says:

      Thanks Christy! Usually Ducky will just start growling a little bit and I catch it at that point so she can’t escalate it. But last night I didn’t catch it in time. All I know is that it needs to STOP. NOW. Poor Shadow doesn’t need this BS. She’s a sweet, mellow, senior girl and rarely defends herself against Ducky’s snarkiness. Last night she did, but barely. I think she’s afraid of putting a serious hurt on her little sister. Plus, she knows hubby and I want her to defend herself when we can’t grab the brat fast enough.

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  7. christycaplan (@christycaplan) says:

    I’m really sorry that happened -first, I echo what Jodi said as I’ve grabbed our dogs back legs before to break up an argument and it works and startles them enough that they stop the behavior. Also – we use Passion Flower capsules with Sherm as he has anxiety and that seems to take the edge off. BUT I know Prozac works and have seen dogs do well on it.
    I want to tell you that our older dog Bruiser when he doesn’t feel well has snapped and gone after both Sherm and Walter out of nowhere and it shakes you UP. So I’ve been there and I feel for you – it’s awful… perhaps health related to your point…

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  8. Donna says:

    I’m so sorry that Ducky got snarky with Shadow. I hope you find a answer, or that this was a one time slip up. Was it the new dog bed? Maybe she felt possessive about it? It is NOT easy when the dogs don’t get along, we are fighting the same battle with Medi and Cooper. I have to keep them completely separate, because Coops being a pup will go TO Medi, and Medi will charge Coops to go after him. It is a lot of management, and is exhausting and frustrating and so sad.

    I’ve done a lot of research on the prozac too. It is the medication of choice for inter-dog aggression, however, you are right in that it can also sometimes work backwards and make a dog more aggressive. Usually the affects of Prozac can be seen between 4 to 6 weeks. How long has Ducky been on it now?

    Liked by 1 person

    • My Golden Life says:

      Actually, she’s been on it for a little less than 2 years. We put her on it back when she was first diagnosed with IBD/IBS because a lot of her IBS was caused by her anxieties. At the time – and possibly still – the drug of choice for this was the Prozac. And, to be fair, it had been helping to reduce her obsessive-compulsive eating of yard “trash” which contributed to her IBS episodes. These snarky episodes have only just started up again recently.

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      • Donna says:

        My gut would say if it was the prozac, it would have started not long after she began taking it, but of course, anything is possible. Definitely follow your own gut, you know your dogs best!

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      • Donna says:

        Also, was it the new dog bed that triggered the “argument” — or was it an old one? It might be as simple as being extra vigilant around high value, novel items, and buying two of everything whenever possible.

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      • My Golden Life says:

        It was the old bed – one that we bought back when Shadow was a puppy; and,until Friday night, was shared by all 3 dogs over the years without any issues. The newer dog bed replaced the one that Callie soiled the night before we said goodbye to her. (It was her original bed from when she first earned roaming rights as a pup and her favorite.) Ducky’s new bed is way too small for Shadow, and she’s not the least bit interested in it.

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  9. Beth says:

    I’m sorry you had to go through this! Our trainer has mentioned the grabbing them by the rear like Jodi mentioned, too. You want to grab them near their hips and try to flip them over–that will surprise them and they’ll open their mouths and let go, usually. We’ve used this when squirrels have been caught and dogs haven’t wanted to give up their prize, too 😉

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    • My Golden Life says:

      Thanks Beth! I’ve heard about grabbing them by the hind legs; but Ducky’s so quick, I’m afraid she could turn and bite me. At least if I grab her by the back of her collar, there’s no way her teeth could reach me.

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  10. Jodi says:

    That is horrible and I’m so sorry you experienced that. There is nothing worse than seeing a dog go after your dog, and when both dogs are yours, doubly horrible.

    Two things come immediately to mind. 1) We’ve had Sampson on Valerian root for stress/anxiety. It is a natural stress reliever and I have been seeing a huge difference with him. It is fairly inexpensive (I got a giant bottle for less than $15, if memory serves me.) It may be worth while for you to check out. 2) I’ve heard the best way to breakup a dog fight is to grab the little demon dog by her back legs and pull. I can’t vouch for it, but it’s what I’ve heard.

    Knowing you the way I do, I know you’ll find something that works for Ducky, even if that means she needs to be on leash all the time until she learns what is and is not acceptable.

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    • My Golden Life says:

      Thanks, Jodi! It was horrible last night. I’m going to try the Thundershirt approach, meaning whenever she starts acting even slightly “possessed”, I’ll put the Thundershirt on her, as well as clipping the leash to her collar. Hopefully the shirt will calm her down and wearing the leash will give me more time to catch her b4 she can go at Shadow.

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