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Current blog look inspired by and dedicated to Chance, Blaze, Fiona and Zappa who all kicked ass against cancer and liver disease.

Brut Quote

Brut Quote

Thursday, September 2, 2010

How We Became Two Packs

Front Dogs
Back Dogs

Some of you may not be aware that our six dogs are divided into two packs and you may wonder why.   When Brut and Silver had their puppies, we kept Zappa and Fiona and they formed a pack, the Back Dogs.  Chance and Blaze (Front Dogs) who were part of our litter returned at almost a year old, both abused and to the Back Dogs they were strangers. 

I was just learning about socializing before Front Dogs came back, but had no ways or means to do it. That's when we decided to take BRUT to the only behaviorist within 100 miles. We were not comfortable with her or her methods and after she kicked Brut on purpose while he lay at our feet, we knew we were never going back.  (More details in a later post)

After Blaze came back and the Back Dogs wouldn't accept her, I called a dog trainer for some advice on how to introduce the dogs.  After giving him a complete history on the phone, he informed me of two things.  1.  I didn't know what I was getting into, and  2. I was going to have to give up one or more dogs.  I may not have known everything I was getting into, but I was willing to try and make it work.  Giving up any of the dogs was NOT an option.  Not long after Blaze came back, Chance came back.  Chance coming back was a miracle for Blaze and us.  She wasn't alone anymore and neither was Chance as they grew up together because their owners were related.

So after dealing with the "experts," we realized we were on our own to figure this out.  Besides who knows our dogs better than us?  There are many books on dogs, but is there a book on just Blaze?  Or Brut?  Or any of the others?

So we divided the house and the yard in order to make things work for this time period.  Blaze and CHANCE have needed extensive time to heal from the abuse from their previous owners.  Brut has needed the time to learn how to socialize within his pack and proper alpha dog corrections.  We are getting very close with him, mostly from what he has learned from Zappa and Fiona.  Post: Brut and the Power of Love   If we had tried to force these dogs together before their healing began to take place, it would have done more damage than good.
Blaze and Zappa

Zappa (Back Dog) and Blaze (Front Dog) are able to hang out together.  If you read BLAZE'S STORY you'll see they took to each other shortly after Blaze came back.  We still let them put them together when Chance goes with Daddy.  There is a bit of a riff between Chance and Zappa over Blaze.  They each think they saw her first.

Silver and Chance
Silver (Back Dog) and Chance (Front Dog) are also able to hang out together.  Silver usually struts her alpha dog style during playtime, but her defenses break down enough in order for a few rare moments of connection with Chance and it is well worth it.  We have also taken one Back Dog and one Front Dog for walks together as well and each time notice more and more improvement. 

There have been many challenges along the way but each step has been a reward.  We had our header photo made to give a visual of the integration between the two packs.  We know we have a tough road ahead, but we have plenty of time to do it.  We believe in taking things slow, for the dogs and ourselves.  We want to make sure that each time there is contact it is positive and productive.  We have always believed everything happens for a reason and as this journey has been unfolding we have come to trust that even more.  We believe by design we are taking the road less traveled, and we have the faith and trust that bringing these two packs together will someday be a reality.  No matter how we look at it, they are still the 24 Paws of Love. 




Unknown said...

I love hearing about the back dogs vs the front dogs. Haylie and Fred had to be seperated for a year in diffrent homes due to the agression. We took it slowly with them over that year and then I was able to have them back living in the same house but I still have to practice maintence daily in order for there not to be a fight. We still have them occasionaly though but nothing like I did every with them in the past. I commend you on working to intergrate them and for taking care of the problem on your own. You a special person not to just throw in the towel!


the magic sleigh said...

Woooos! we loved reading about your 2 packs, it takes time, perseverance, love and knowledge, but hopefully all will turn out well since you are using all of those wisely, as a dog trainer, my Mom would have kicked that other trainer long before he kicked her dog! So sorry you had to go through some awful trainers. Mommy does behavior training and rehabilitates dogs with love. She recommends you read Patricia McConnell, on dog behavior.
We too have dealt with 2 pack, one dogs, one cats, which are now, after 4 years integrated together in one household! It can be done.
~husky kisses~
-Kira The BeaWootiful, and her Mom

Maggie Mae and Max said...

Good fur you not giving up on your pups! Mom FINALLY found me a new trainer who is starting to help me to learn how to get along with others better. The first trainer we had said I was a lost cause. :( It will take time, but we both are willing to work hard at it. Best of luck to you.

WOofs and Licks,
Maggie Mae

Rachel said...

It's so nice you are able to figure out how everyone can live as happily as possible at your home. It reminds me a lot of introducing new horses to a herd. Which is not always easy and is sometimes like playing with fire, but if you do it right they tend to be able to work it out. But as with all animals sometimes there are a couple who just don't get along.

TimberLove said...

We put our paws together for woos!

RA & Isis

Corbin said...

This is an awesome story! I enjoy reading about your dogs, and so does my momma! She had to get a trainer for me in April because I went through some growing and hormones changes and became slightly out of control. He was excellant and very respectful and responsive to my mom and her concerns. She did a lot of research to find him beause she knows there are some crazy trainer out there! Glad you're working on your packs though! Some day they'll all be bff :o)

Granite State Pet Sitting said...

Such a wonderful story about the dogs! Some Trainers should not be trainers. There is a training school in Nh that the owner/trainer actually picked dogs up by the ears when they did not listen to her commands. We never Went Back to that place.

24 Paws of Love said...

Thank you for all your support and encouragement. It is so good to know we are not alone in our experience with bad trainers/behavorist. We live in a rural area so our choices are very limited. So we rely on books and video and as much intuition as possible.

Kari-thank you for sharing about Fred and Haylie. I would never have guessed they were sepereated. I still have to monitor Brut with the Back Dogs, he's come a long way, but there is still a ways to go.

Maggie Mae, you are the furthest thing from a lost cause, as I have ever seen! So glad you found a trainer that is working for you.

Kira and Mom-we also have 2 cats, they are fine with the Back Dogs, but we have a LONG, LONG way with Blaze. Thank for letting me know it's possible!
Thanks for the book recommendation. I will look it up.

meowmeowmans said...

Thank you for never giving up on your dogs. We think it is absolutely awesome, and look forward to following your blog. :)

24 Paws of Love said...

Thank you for your wonderful thoughts, meowmeowmans. Thank you for all the wonderful work you do also.

Unknown said...

Im coming up on the 2 year anniversary of putting mine together full time and hoping to do a series of blog posts about the trials of the whole process. Please keep posting about the process of working with the front vs back dogs, I love it and to know someone else has gone through the same thing. I look forward to reading the posts you have about it.