A Country Tail

Ollie hasn’t had a great week. After chasing a deer into some bushes, and not catching it of course, he pulled a muscle in one of his back legs, and developed a limp. No sooner had that begun to clear up, than he had a bout of diarrhoea to contend with, probably caused by drinking something potentially lethal, in the river water. Luckily, that soon cleared up, with a couple of days of bland food- chicken and rice, and a good rest.

As he draws near to his second birthday, next February, he has become a little difficult on occasion. He sometimes ignores my commands to return, and often runs the length of the meadow, when he sees another dog. As we decided not to have him neutered, (not yet, anyway) his usual playing with his dog chums has recently developed into shows of dominance. Most of them are doing something similar; shoulder mounting, growling, pawing the ground, and scent-marking every molehill and twig. Even when they seem to be playing happily, they nip harder, bowl each other over, and steal sticks and balls constantly. It is to be accepted, I suppose, as a coming-of-age ritual, which hopefully will not last too long. The shame of it is, that all the dogs concerned were once great friends. All born around the same time, they had their first ever walks together, shared first experiences in the river, and trips across to Hoe Rough.

Now, they are becoming like a gang of squabbling teenagers. Running in groups, careering into people, snarling, biting, and generally wrestling. Ollie, who is otherwise placid and so easy to own, becomes a changed dog across the meadow now. Strutting like a neighbourhood tough guy, on the lookout for any strange dogs to intimidate, or old pals to settle dominance issues with. I have to tell him off so much more, and sometimes walk him on the lead, to keep him in check. The once pleasant walk has turned into a constant reconnaissance mission, as I scan the horizon for potential combatants. Two of his former ‘best mates’, Retriever Duncan, and chocolate Labrador Flynn, are now either attacking on sight, or being pursued by a determined Ollie, keen to show them that he is the boss. I have had to start avoiding walking companions, even occasionally going to different venues, rather than have to encounter them.

Late Saturday afternoon, Ollie had been running around and tussling with Spike, an enormous eight-month old Rhodesian Ridgeback. It was a hard play, that left him with a gash over one eye. Luckily, Spike is still young, and Ollie senses his youth, and takes advantage of that. For the moment, they are still equals, despite the size difference, and Spike’s large ears were targeted on more than one occasion, causing him to yelp, as Ollie sunk his teeth in. As it got later, we decided to make tracks home. Near the river, we encountered a lady, who had another of Ollie’s old friends, Robbie the Terrier, on a lead.  After some sniffing and growling, ( by the dogs…) we said farewell, and walked towards the exit, as it was now almost dark. After getting some distance away, Ollie suddenly turned, and ran back towards Robbie, determined to have the last sniff, and show the small dog where he stood, in the grand scheme of things canine. I heard a snarl, and a high pitched yelp, and saw Ollie running back towards us. He stopped halfway, obviously in some distress, as he kept sitting down.

I went back, to try to cajole him on, and he kept looking at his tail, which is curled in on itself, not unlike a pig’s tail. I went to uncurl it, for a better look in the gloom, and he snapped at me angrily, for the first time ever. I put his lead on, but had trouble getting him to walk home. Once back in proper light, I could soon see that the tip of his tail was gone, bitten off by the angry terrier. There was a nasty-looking wound, and some dried blood around the base. Part of what was left was visible, and it looked very sore. I suppose it must be a bit like losing a fingertip, made worse by the fact that the curl in his tail constantly forces the wound into contact with his back. He can relax it slightly, but not for very long. I tried to get to it, to clean it up, but he was having none of that. All he wanted was to be stroked and cuddled, and he looked very sorry for himself. Mind you, he did eat his dinner, so it didn’t put him off that.

He kept fairly quiet for the rest of the night, not playing with his toys, and constantly seeking reassurance. Even though it was his own fault, we couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. I will take him to the Vet tomorrow, to see what can be done with it, if anything. Today, I drove him up to Neatherd Moor, to keep him out of the river. As soon as he was out of the car, it was plain to see that he was not his usual self; constantly stopping, and looking behind. When other dogs came close, they tried to sniff the wound, no doubt sensing the blood. I had to keep him walking on his own, and cut the usual length of his walk short, as he was patently not enjoying it. On the return journey, with rain increasing, the windscreen wipers on my car began to operate in slow-motion, for some unknown reason. With more rain forecast, and a busy week ahead, the last thing I needed was the inconvenience, and expense, of getting wipers fixed. I have had better weekends, it must be said.

On the plus side, I was published on Curnblog once again, here’s a link; http://curnblog.com/2013/12/14/trip-pictures-watching-movies-post-wwii-london/ Although this made me very pleased, it also coincided with the least ever views on my blog over a weekend, since I started it.

Let’s hope that it is a seasonal aberration.

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11 thoughts on “A Country Tail

  1. Ouch, poor Ollie! Terriers are definitely not to be messed with! We used to have a black Labrador retriever, Jami, who was the kindest dog imaginable.
    After Jami, we got a much smaller dog, a Jack Russell terrier, Aksu, who despite his cute appearance was a total bag of nerves. But, whatever Aksu did, people would just see this small cute dog! When Aksu hit his teenage years, he became totally paranoid of his own tail and bit his tail to the bone multiple times. It wasn’t a simple “chase the tail” kind of behavior; he would really attack his tail to kill and in this frenzy sometimes also accidentally attack anyone who happened to be close by. This wasn’t because he was bored/not walked enough. We even took him to a dog psychologist (☺) to stop the behavior but nothing worked despite our best efforts and training. Despite many years with dogs, I had never seen anything like it! Apparently Jack Russells as a breed sometimes have this problem of being just “wired wrong”, though it’s rare, can become really paranoid. Also, many terriers can’t let go when they bite and their jaws lock to kill the perceived “rat” with one bite (Jack Russells were bred for killing rats). So, poor Aksu became a victim of his own genetics even when the pray was his own tail.
    Hopefully Ollie will be better soon and that the coming month will be a better one for him!

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    1. Thanks Mari, sorry to hear about your dog Aksu. Ollie doesn’t seem to be unduly bothered by his own tail, but it is a good ‘target’ for any dog that wants to tell him off! It wasn’t a Jack Russell, although that breed has bitten him in the past.
      Regards from England, Pete.

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  2. The terrible teens, I’m sure it will pass; I remember Jackie (our Sprocker) had a spell of doing what she wanted and I often jumped in the van and drove off as she would decide that the walk wasn’t long enough and she headed off on her own. Of course I always turned the van round after five minutes to find her waiting for me to return.
    A water pistol is one off the best things to have to reinforce your dominance and take command of the situation if Ollie starts to get too rough with other dogs; a quick squirt on top of your no command should do the trick. It’s worked for me in the past with bad tempered dogs, it can be a good harmless behaviour changer.

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    1. Cheers Eddy, the water pistol sounds like a plan. He is at the vet’s now, three-figures quoted, to sort out the tail under anaesthetic. If it requires more amputation, more hundreds will follow! That one was expensive nip!
      Hope all’s well mate. Best wishes to you and Gosia from Norfolk, Pete..

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  3. Although your adventures with Ollie were anything but pleasant (for both you and Ollie), I thoroughly enjoyed reading your account, as it is so well written. Back in 1970, my parents bought us kids an Old English Sheepdog. Although his registered name was Sir Winston Marco Polo, we just called him either Winston or Winnie. He had plenty of adventures once we moved from a city street to the country (Missouri River bluffs), where he could challenge horses and cows, and chase cats and ducks (not to mention avoiding speeding cars as he crossed the bend in the road). The only physical injury was being kicked down a hill by a horse. And the only injury to his pride was when, after trying to out-swim a duck in the pond, I had to wade into the water and drag him out before he drowned, taking care to avoid the snapping turtle known to inhabit those murky waters. Later in life, a cocker spaniel entered my life. But since then, I haven’t had any pets. I do miss having an affectionate animal around, but, for various reasons, my wife and I don’t feel we can (or should) own a pet just yet. Perhaps it is because our household does not include a pet that I so very much enjoy reading about your adventures with Ollie. Your talent as a writer certainly enhances the pleasure of reading about them.

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    1. Thank you, David. I have had to learn all over again about having a dog, as I have not had one since the late 1970’s, because of work. Having Ollie has meant that I have to go out every day, (when I might otherwise be blogging) and that I have met a large number of local people, who I would not otherwise have had cause to speak to. On the other hand, I have had to constantly re-think any other activity, to fit in with the responsibilities of dog ownership. It is not an easy balance.
      At least we have no snapping turtles to avoid!
      Regards from England. Pete.

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  4. Oh dear, I hope Ollie recovers very soon!
    Aiaiai, this sounds very stressful, Pete. I’m so sorry! This behavior would make me nervous. I hope it is vorübergehend – and that you and Ollie can enjoy your walks again like before. I have observed similar bully behavior in the neighborhood where i live and I must confess, I make a detour when I see this big dog that went after my Golden Retriever. It’s a bad circle, hard to break.
    I wonder what a dog trainers advice would be.
    All the best, Pete. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that Ollie will be a sensible grown up older dog. One fine day.
    Dina xx

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    1. Thanks Dina, I will tell Ollie of your advice! He must learn to behave well soon, or lose those things most precious to him! I looked up your German word, and I too hope that it is a temporary (or transient?) thing.
      Regards to you and KB, as always, Pete. x

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  5. I’m not sure your ‘tails’ are encouraging me back into being a dog owner again. Sounds expensive and fraught with danger! Poor Ollie – sounds like he (had) bit(ten) off more than he expected when he tried to bully the little terrier (there is a reason they are called terriers) I hope he recovers soon. Been meaning to ask you for ages Pete, why did you select that particular breed of dog?
    Jude xx

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    1. The people who used to live next door were breeding their Sharpei bitch when Julie first moved up here. She had some pups, Julie spotted Ollie as a tiny wrinkled ball, and it was love at first sight. It is expensive though (at least for this breed) with Insurance currently £38 a month PLUS 10% of all treatments, and we also have to pay the first £68 of anything. It costs more than to insure my car, to insure the dog. Thanks Jude, and regards as always, Pete. x

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