Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where's Cesar Millan When I Need Him?

When Justin and I returned from the beach last month after being gone for an entire week, we expected Sam to go crazy as soon as she heard us walk in, but instead she chose to stay on Justin’s parents’ bed until we actually walked into the bedroom to find her.  That was part of the reason why I thought she would be so happy staying with Justin’s parents during the weekends, because she seemed so content there before.  However, when Justin and I arrived yesterday evening to pick her up, she was BESIDE HERSELF with excitement.   She barked non-stop and even jumped up onto us a couple of times, which is not typical behavior for Sam.   She was beyond happy to see us, and even happier when I put her harness on her and she realized we were taking her home.  She had a big, goofy, ear-to-ear grin on her face as she rode home with her head sticking out the window, barking occasionally to let everyone know how happy she was to be going home.

It warmed my heart to see Sam so happy, but that quickly dissolved as soon as Sam was reunited with Margot.  Margot immediately stood on her hind legs and wrapped her arms around Sam’s neck while also trying to bite her ears.   I decided to let them both go outside before Margot’s playfulness escalated, which seemed to work at first.  Margot mostly just followed Sam around the yard, but didn’t really try to play with her much.  Once they came back inside, though, Margot went nuts!  Sam actually tolerated her for a few minutes, but then the barking began. 
I wish I understood dog behavior better because I would love to know what’s really going on between these two whenever they bark and show their teeth to one another.  Margot is obviously just trying to play with Sam, but I honestly can’t tell if Sam is unhappy about it or actually semi-engaging in this form of play with Margot.   It seems like Sam would be doing more to put Margot in her place if she were truly angry with her, like snap at her or at least give a lower-pitched, more serious-sounding bark, but Sam never does that.  She just shows her teeth and gives a soft, sustained growl most of the time.  She does occasionally let out a loud bark with a brief snipping motion if Margot bites her too hard or won’t leave her alone while she’s trying to sleep, but for the most part Sam allows Margot to literally walk all over her. 

This may seem like an okay situation, but then...

...two seconds later!

I thought that maybe Margot was just extra excited about Sam being home and hoped that she would eventually lose interest in picking on her.  I even tried to lure Margot away from Sam several times by squeaking her favorite toys and initiating games with her, but Sam (bless her heart) always wants to be wherever I am and, as a result, she ends up putting herself right back in Margot’s path.  It’s the same situation whenever we move the baby gate and allow Sam to go upstairs by herself.   You would think that she’d love the opportunity to get away from the puppy and lounge on our bed all night, but instead she just ends up crying and standing at the baby gate because not only does she hate to be alone, but she’s not happy unless Justin and I are BOTH in the room with her!  It’s extremely frustrating because she makes it impossible for us to help her.   So, our only two options are to either to watch Margot incessantly pick on Sam and listen to them bark and growl at each other all night, or to take Sam back over to Justin’s parents’ house, and I hate both of those options.   

With that said, I reminded Justin at lunch today that during the few days when I was toiling over the “joint custody” decision, things actually seemed to be getting a little bit better between Margot and Sam, especially after Margot learned how to play ball.   Therefore, I’m just going to see how the rest of this week goes before I make any further decisions.  If the situation feels like it’s improving, I’m going to just try riding it out for a while, rather than separate Sam and Margot again.  Like I said, part of the reason why Margot was so relentless last night may have been due to the excitement of having Sam home again.   I’m crossing my fingers that tonight will be a little calmer for all of us.

Why can't they just be like this all the time?

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