Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What is Jealousy?

The following is taken from an email from a friend:

I wonder what you think about dogs and jealousy. I go back and forth between what I think and what "veterinary" science based behavior wants me to think... I'm conflicted. Maybe the perceived jealousy is just glorified resource guarding??? Hmm... I've been pondering this one for a while.

That's what I love about you, Mel. You go right to the heart of the matter.

Our DNA, tells us how similar we are to other species. Science teaches us that things go from the simple to the complex. What in the world were they thinking the day some scientist decided that something so base as jealousy or envy was a higher emotion. That jealousy is a human trait and dogs resource guard makes them sound like the superior species, doesn't it.

Lord, could you just hear a dog saying, "I am not jealous, I'm just resource guarding."

Do we understand how emotions evolved, not by a long shot. We know things go from the simple to the complex. Where it goes from a reflex and becomes an emotion, who knows. I remember when people would have said it impossible for a gorilla to love a cat. Koko the gorilla convinced me she loved her cat named Ball.

So just pass your test and keep an open mind. All I can tell you is what I see; maybe you'll be the scientist who figures out what it means.

What I can tell you is I had a litter of Bullmastiffs that could hold a grudge. I had 3 females about 12 weeks two of my friends were each taking a girl for a couple of weeks for socialization getting ready for conformation. Before my friends arrived the scrappy sisters were at it. They were heavy breathing, snorting pissed off. I had a devil of a time separating them. Two weeks later when all were reunited they started fighting like it was a second ago. I don't stay mad that long. Was that the perpetually pissed off drive?

Let me describe another observation. In the early years at Carrvilla my mother would come to visit. She was an attentive grandmother to the dogs; each was given a nice big bone. Some would be opportunistic if a bone was unattended, but they settled with their bones. She makes her favorite, my Tyr, wait until the very end because she has something special for him. He was such a good dog he would wait even being alpha male in my yard. Grandma gives her favorite this three foot humongous thing. Tyr laid down to have a good gnaw. The other five dogs stopped chewing to watch the alpha chew. Before long he got up and took his bone to a private spot to chew. This was a dog who was rarely more than five feet away from me. The rest resumed chewing. So what was that? I don't know, I just watched it happen.

A few weeks ago Blondie and Stormy both made Bonita scream in pain a full ten minutes or more after they all ate their fill. This surprised the heck out of me.

When we first arrived we fed the two older dogs and slipped Bonita food while they were occupied gorging. They had her too afraid to make a move on the food even when I threw it thirty feet away. Not to mention how afraid of me she was. I lured her around the corner so they didn't pounce on her. If I verbally corrected them, she would freak. She needed food so badly. Within a couple of days I stopped the adults from terrorizing her while she ate. By a week she was allowed eat within twenty feet of them. So a couple of weeks later when they attacked her well after dinner, what was that??

Over the years I've developed the three yipe check. If you hear a dog yipe, it gets your attention. If the dog yipe, yipes your focused because dogs don't yipe, yipe for nothing. If you hear yipe, yipe, yipe check it out.

We've had spoiled dogs in day care and board that do that to get attention, but you get to know who they are. If the three yipe pattern repeats, we always come running.

When Bonita yipes and screams in pain, we throw the dogs off her. That's a human thing!

I thought I could sweet talk her, give her food and build a relationship, most dogs fall in love with me. I had to get control of that because I got tired of clients telling to take their dog because it loves me. I know how to smooze dog. Without food I can entertain and take Blon & Storm off on an adventure.

Stormy has allowed me to verbally control him in a stressful situation. The only controls I have instilled in the big ones is what I like and what I don't like. I am a full subscriber to the K.I.S.S. philosophy of life.

A neighbor's mare wandered on our property with her yearling daughter. Neither was well handled. The mare liked to kick, seemed to be good at it. Stormy is a car chasing Border Collie x terrier. You can guess what he was doing in a serious way. This is a brave little dog. I took charge by telling him what I liked. When he charged the horses, the aaahhnnt sound is effective as a stop what you are doing sound. As soon as he stopped I plied him with good dogs, came by my side and waited for direction like a trained dog. I was so impressed because he chose to follow my directions. That wild filly and her old crank mother could have kicked the tar out of both of us.

Blondie adores me and will do what I ask if she understands what I want and is in the mood. The solution – more reps. She is such fun.

Bonita only goes so far with me. There are encouraging moments, but has the socialization ship sailed? I was so thrilled the other day when she gave me the play bite. I can get her going with lip licks and yawn. She gives them back to me. Working with her has taught me about another group of island dogs.

The ghost dogs are the ones who never get close to us. There is a beautiful dog, red coat with black fringe. Zorro is a ghost dog. I see him for a few seconds, then he vanishes. We see these dogs hunting in the fields, at abandoned buildings, places where people don't go. I think these are the true feral dogs, the ones who were born to street dogs and had no interaction with people during imprint.

1 comment:

  1. Oh so many things to think about in that one!
    Thank you for the jelousy insight. I've never felt that dogs are the simple "machines" they are made out to be in behavior books. My life with them has convinced me otherwise... The question came to mind while thinking of your story of Bonita and also some recent happenings in my house. I have one very spoiled first born "child" that can do no wrong who does not share well. She does not share her mother (her real canine one) with the other dogs. She will stop whatever it is she is doing if her mother is playing to go take out the one playing with her. She also does not share me. I have become quite sneaky at bringing home my other girl from classes due to the spoiled one taking her out at the back door when we walk in. She only does this to the two lower ranking dogs.

    I don't believe you have missed your opportunity with Bonita. It may be a longer road, but I can't believe that she will not fall for you. I know how good you are. I am always fascinated by what behavior is inate and what is learned and wonder if you may be dealing with the hardest of both. Maybe she is not a very confident dog to begin with, then add no human socialization, possibly mistreatment (by humans), and she doesn't have any litter mates or lower ranking pups to gain any confidence with. Poor girl. Just a thought

    I am intregued by these ghost dogs. You must write more about them!