Whatever the answer – the WooTWoo have finally sorted out their hunting regime, and I have figured out how, while they are onedog samedog, they are subtly different.
Unlike Woo, TWooie is a Loud Hunter. BARKBARKBARKBARKBARK all the way. He thrashes through the undergrowth and sounds like 10 TWoos Hunting when he does. I am always kind of surprised when he manages to catch something, because what prey animal with an ounce of self preservation does not hear that coming a mile away? But catch things he does!
Woo likes to hunt because there is a pay-off – Eating. If he can catch it, he can eat it. He is a more silent hunter than his brother … he disappears into the pokies and you neither hear nor see him again until he’s good and ready to reappear. Hunting also makes him very happy. This is his “Where’s The Bunny?” face:
Often times the only reason I know that the WooTWoo is hunting is because I hear TWooie’s very distinctive hunting bark and turn around to find Woo already long gone, vanished into the bushes, and TWoo trying to bully his way into the undergrowth whilst yelling his head off.
After months of practice, the WooTWoo have finally sorted out their Hunting Symbiosis. It goes like this:
Woo disappears into the undergrowth and scares up something small and furry. TWoo remains on the perimeter and when he spies whatever Woo scared up he gives voice. Woo continues to slink around at top speed, but invisibly, which confuses the prey who is running from Loud TWoo. Woo can hear where the prey is thanks to TWoo, and the prey can’t see Woo but keeps accidentally running into him and gets more panicked. Eventually, in the confusion, it runs into TWoo’s jaws. TWoo kills it. While Twoo is protecting his prize from Everyone Else, Woo eats it.
This is very interesting to watch. But it’s also confusing. It’s confusing because Woo eats everything and is getting skinnier, but TWoo expends more effort, eats nothing, and is getting fatter!
I am beginning to think that the WooTWoo’s cosmic connection runs much deeper than human understanding. I now believe that they share a gravitational force between them; there is only one amount of mass for the WooTWoo and they share it. If Woo loses it, TWoo gains it and vice versa. After months of dieting, Woo is now at his target body weight – his dock diving instructor even said that he was “nice and thin” (me=chuffed!). After months of dieting and steadily slimming down, with no change in his diet, TWoo is now suddenly getting fatter.
And speaking of getting fatter – after lots of trial and error, I have found some stuff for Dex’s diet that are encouraging a little bit of weight gain. Oatmeal, yams and beef suet seem to be doing the trick. While he remains a dog “with a head too large for his scrawny little body”
He is starting, at long last, to fill out. Soon it will be time to go in and find his shy testes.
We have one for West.
It’s been a harrowing week or so while I weighed my various options with this poor creature. I introduced him last weekend to a potential adopter, and she spent an hour with us being non-threatening on a walk. He spent the entire hour menacing her and threatening to bite. I’ve no doubt that had he been off leash, he would have. It gave me a great deal of pause because adopting him out to the general public (the potential adopter was someone I know, not a random applicant) would be like giving a hand grenade to a 12 year old as a gift – IOW, very irresponsible of me to do. I did read all your comments and emails and appreciate them all, even if I didn’t answer them all.
Someone has stepped up for West and I think it represents his best chance at rehab, IF rehab is in fact possible for him. I am not totally convinced that it is possible, and neither is the behaviourist who has agreed to take him and try to work with him. But West was down to 3 options –
1) Euthanasia. Yes, it would be a shame. Yes he is cute, and young, and it would be sad. But it’s probably also the most practical solution.
2) An extremely limited life here with me. And that would also be a shame. Because he would be limited by his own issues and wouldn’t get to go anywhere other than my farm, and often on leash only. This seems like a poor choice for an energetic adolescent border collie with some considerable smarts. This option would be all wrapped up in the problems of my limited time for yet another permanent dog and the amount of personal energy I could offer him, and in what ways his limitations would limit my other dogs. Not a solution.
3) One last kick at the can with someone who has the skill and time to work with him. We hope with the intervention of behavioural modification and drug therapy, his default reaction to strangers can be indifference or even sociability and he could go on to live a more normal life. This is what we opted to try. It does not mean that he won’t be euthanized eventually, because it may be that he can’t be saved and we have both agreed to be honest with ourselves and with each other about that sad potential reality.
I know there are rescuers who think euthanasia for any reason, but especially for behavioural ones, is wrong, end of story, thanks for playing. I am not one of them. I know there are rescuers who have extremely high (or rigid) standards for what can be considered “adoptable” and are quick to euthanize anything that falls outside of those parameters and only adopt out bomb-proof dogs. I am not one of them either. I fall somewhere in between the two because while I rescue because I want to save dogs, I also recognize that dogs are inextricably linked to people, and giving people unsafe dogs is unfair to both the people and the dogs. I only want to hear people say that the dog they got from TDBCR is “awesome” – not for our reputation, but for the reputation of rescue. It pains me to hear people say that rescue dogs are always behavioural or physical messes and that rescuing is a gamble. You know what? It really isn’t. MOST of the dogs I have rescued are simply lovely and if they have come with quirks they are personality quirks, not rescue dog quirks. So for me, I want to put reasonably normal dogs in homes with people who understand them and are a good match for them and facilitate relationships where the people are very proud of their dogs.
The practical solution would be to say goodbye to West and release him from his demons, and keep the public safe from him. But it’s hard to be practical when the dog in question is doing the “Dance With Me!” routine I taught him (where he stands on his hind legs and puts his front legs over his head in the air and wiggles) and then finishes it up with a full body hug. I don’t think I could make West bite me if I tried. Unfortunately, pretty well nobody else on this planet can say that sentence :(
So tomorrow West leaves me for Kamloops, where the sun will either shine for him, or set one last time. I am hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst. He’s lost in a real sea of anxiety, this poor fella. Let’s hope, with Courtenay’s help, he can find his way out.
I feel, of course, like an asshole – handing West off to a Scary Stranger feels like a betrayal of his trust in me. I wish I could explain to him why I’m doing it.
To alleviate some of my West-guilt, Courtney is bringing me a border collie from her local Animal Control that wants a coveted spot in our rescue. Her name is Unique, but as far as I can tell she is not unique at all – she’s just Dexter in a different coloured tracksuit:
She’s not staying with me but for overnight, and then she’ll be off to her real foster home. In the wake of West, I need a little bit of a break.
And thank you, Courtenay.