Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pete's "Puppy License" is Expiring...

Adult dogs take a lot of crap from puppies. They generally tolerate behavior from them that would trigger a nasty fight if coming from another adult. It's called "puppy license," and is essentially a license to pester, bully, steal and commit a myriad of other social faux pas. We humans are generally appalled by it, and fret and sweat bullets at the amount of bad behavior our resident adults are subjected to. But as the puppy hits teething age, their hormone levels begin to rise which is believed to be the trigger which causes that license to expire and inspire the adults to correct the puppy. Depending upon the level of brattiness the puppy is showing at this time and the social level and sexual status of the adult, those corrections can be mild, or they can be administered with an alarming level of fuss and feathers - even blood if the situation warrants.

Over the past few days, Pete has been becoming increasingly ferocious in his play and frankly, I was becoming a little concerned over it, especially with Piglet. I mean really - some of his play with her was sure looking like more than mock attacks. But Piglet has been returning his assaults with clear play postures so I thought maybe I was misreading the situation. She generally doesn't put up with shenanigans and will correct a bratty puppy, but hasn't done so with him. Yet.

Nugget, my intact male ACD, has been Pete's constant playmate since his arrival and the two of them have gotten along quite well. So, I didn't think twice about putting them out in the yard together to potty and play. Heh. I only looked away for a moment, and suddenly I heard this great SCREAMING that I equate with two dogs trying to kill each other. Uh-oh...

The two boys were going at it hot and heavy, and my feeble cry of "KNOCK IT OFF!!!" went entirely unheeded. Oh, I thought, there's going to be bloodshed.

I scrambled to put on shoes and jacket and grabbed my walking stick and charged out the door. By that time, the boys had made their way to a dark corner of the yard and all was quiet. I saw Nugget standing over a frosty red, motionless lump on the ground and Rodney the Basset standing nearby as if counting the seconds to a KO. I was offering a quick prayer to God that the puppy was okay.

As I approached, Nugget scooted off, Pete got up (Thank you, God!) and ran to a corner of the yard close to the house. He was quite shaken and gave me wide berth. I literally herded him into the house, where he settled in moments and allowed me to do a wound check. To my surprise, he had only a small patch of wet fur on his shoulder - no blood, no wounds. I called Nugget in and checked him. Same thing - no wounds. Not a scratch on either one of them!

Then it occured to me: What I had just witnessed wasn't a fight - it was a correction. And it was a biggie. And Pete, I must admit, needed that. Until that moment, Pete thought he was the center of the universe. After that, he's been quite respectful of me and the other adults, and he is walking on eggshells, especially around Nugget. Good boy!

I thought about separating them, but then I thought that wouldn't be wise. Nugget handled that situation like a proper dad who knew his son needed to be taken down a few pegs and he did it with a determination, fury and restraint which I could not. Funny, but a little while later, Nugget approached Pete and licked his face. Such is the way of dogs.

Pete's puppy license is expiring and it's sometimes a tough lesson for a little guy. Methinks it is a lesson worth learning. Yet it is only one lesson in an entire course on where puppy fits in, so I'm expecting I may not have seen the last of it.

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