Thursday, April 30, 2009

Insight: Part One

An unfortunate incident yesterday between Lucy and Lily provided me with a glimpse into what it might be like to be a parent faced with children that don't always get along and one who, on occasion, exhibit behavior which is extremely upsetting.
We learned a while back not to allow Lucy to have any food around Pete and Lily, including (and most importantly) rawhide chewies. You might recall how Lucy attacked Pete on Christmas day because he showed some minor interest in her rawhide Gingerbread Man. About a month later, she went after Lily who was merely strolling past Lucy's food bowl as Lucy was preparing to chow down. Not too long ago, Lucy managed to get a piece of a rawhide chewie upstairs unbeknown to me and growled at Pete when he looked at her the wrong way. In all three instances, no one was harmed. The first two were loud, noisy, growly, hissy affairs, but, no damage other than flying fur.
Tuesday evening, I gave Lucy a rawhide chewie (one from Grammy) to chew on while we were outside enjoying the evening air. As it turned out, she didn't chew much of it at all, opting to carry it around with her instead. When it came time to come in, we made her leave it outside.
Yesterday morning she couldn't wait to get outside to get to her chewie. I put her out and she spent an hour or so running around with it in her mouth. In hindsight, I think I should have realized this was in and of itself unusual behavior, bordering on obsessive-possessive.
When I went to let her in (she was standing at the door obviously wanting to come in), she had the thing in her mouth. I made her drop it before she came in.
Now here's the thing I've been beating myself up over. I saw it drop on the patio about 1/2 way between the door to the sunroom and the edge of the patio. I thought to myself, "I should go throw that into the yard where she can't see it from inside", followed closely by, "Nah, it's outside, no one can get to it".
In comes Lucy to join Pete and Lily who were doing their usual morning thing in the sunroom (hanging out swatting at bugs on the screen).
I went to do some work on the computer. Roughly 10 minutes later, I heard this God-awful terribly snarling and growling going on in the sunroom. I immediately jumped out to run out there and found Lucy pinning Lily down to the ground. I shrieked at Lucy and sufficiently distracted her such that Lily was able to scuttle away. She ran upstairs. Pete must have already decided to beat a fast trail out of there as he was nowhere to be seen.
Trembling with fear and rage (I hate to admit), I chased Lucy around the kitchen yelling at her. She, no fool, realized she'd done something wrong and attempted to bow to me (subservience) but I just grabbed her, took her to task for her behavior, and threw her butt out into the yard where she promptly ran around the other side of the house to get away from me as I was still shouting at her at the top of my lungs.
This all took three minutes. I ran upstairs to find Lily. I couldn't find her at first (I found our brave Pete cowering under the bed and pulled him out by the tail to make sure he wasn't Lily; him hissing and yowling at me). I finally found her (under the bed at the foot hunched into the bed clothes (the bed hadn't been made yet)). I coaxed her out and checked her for injuries. As far as I could tell, she seemed okay. Frightened, but okay.
I went back downstairs and called Mr. B because I was still livid and scared. He calmed me down and told me to leave Lucy outside and forget about her; that it would do her some good to be out there (I guess like a doggie time out).
Throughout the day yesterday, I went upstairs to check on Lily. At one point, maybe noon-ish, I thought her face looked odd and that something was wrong with her eye. I got to thinking that perhaps, during the fracas, Lucy had either clawed her or dragged her face across the tile and scraped it.
About 4:00 yesterday, I went to find her again. She was in the same place she'd been in all day; at the foot of the bed in the middle guest bedroom on top of my (recently completed) afghan.
This time, I KNEW something was really wrong. Her eye was swollen shut and the entire right side of her sweet little face was puffed up and swollen. I immediately called the vet, told them briefly what happened, and was told to bring her in right away.
Dr. Scott examined her (Dr. Scott is familiar with Lucy and had also treated Clyde from time to time when Uncle Chuck (Dr. Miller) was unavailable). She discovered that Lucy had actually bitten Lily. Or, rather, one of Lucy's canine teeth had gotten up under the gum line on the upper right of Lily's mouth and torn it (Mr. B and I speculated quite a bit about this last night; we're not 100% sure Lucy INTENDED to bite Lily; since she didn't actually bite through her face but rather inside her mouth, it could be Lily was either hissing or attempting to bite Lucy while Lucy had her head near Lily's face. Of course, it's all a moot point because Lucy shouldn't have attacked Lily in the first place).
Thankfully, there was no damage to Lily's eye and neither Dr. Scott or Uncle Chuck (who came in later to look at Lily) thought there had been any facial/bone damage. They both looked VERY serious, though. I think Chuck looked more serious than I've ever seen him (and this includes the time he told me Clyde had cancer). NO ONE there could believe Lucy had done this. They all know and love her and were, quite frankly aghast. Well, I was pretty damn aghast, too.
So, Lily got a shot of antibiotics (good for two weeks), an anti-inflammatory, and a supply of opiates (oral pain killers). They told me to bring her back Friday if the swelling hadn't gone down and/or if she wouldn't eat. This would mean x-rays and IVs.
Lily is, thankfully, a pretty tough little chickie. She played with me through the bars of the cat carrier and ate a little wet food when we got home. She's been taking her oral opiates like a trooper (I think she sort of likes them) and today she ate some cat treats, some kibble, and is back to her picky ways when it comes to the wet food. This morning, she sat in the bathroom sink and played with the water and then taught a naughty blue mouse who was boss. Her recovery looks promising.

Lily on drugs

Pete wonders where his drugs are

Lucy, in the meantime, is in the proverbial dog house. Mr. B thinks she needs to spend a goodly amount of time outside before we let her back in. This is partly to give Lily sufficient time to heal without worrying abut Lucy being around and partly because he's pissed off at her. It probably will take Lily a while to be comfortable around Lucy again but I think she'll get there (had it been Pete, we might have a different story). We bring Lucy in at night, of course, but we lock her in the sunroom with her bed, water and a few toys. Again, this is mostly to give Lily the freedom to move around and not be scared but it is, obviously, also intended as punishment for Cujo. I mean Lucy.
I jest, but, in truth, it is a bit Cujo-like, this behavior of hers. I can only surmise that, for whatever reason, Lucy got it into her head that Lily was going to go outside and get her rawhide chewie yesterday. Lily must have walked over to the door, and Lucy being a dog, she couldn't reason that Lily couldn't open the door and go out and get the chewie. Her Cujo switch got flipped and that was all it took.
I'm of course hoping for the best. I hope that we'll eventually be able to bring Lucy in and re-build up the trust all around. However, my heart is heavy now, especially since, just Monday, I'd left the three of them alone for the very first time. Now, I doubt I'll feel comfortable doing that in a long, long time, if ever again.
And, sadly (but it's something we have to consider), there is the realization that, if Lucy does this again, we'll probably have to find her a new home.
I've gone on longer than I meant to and I still have not arrived at my A HA moment. So, next time!
Mrs. B


Analee said...

YOU are a cat person.

remember that like children, dogs don't remember what they've done [wrong] for very long, so continued punishment doesn't help with discipline.

as a matter of a fact, the rule with children is that the length of a time out should be their age. 18 months = 1min30sec. 2 years old = 2 min. 13 years old = 13 minutes. (you get the picture.)

after the time out, you aren't supposed to continue to punish them.

now i know lucy isn't a person *thus all that fur!*, but i'm sure she's already forgotten what she did to get in trouble. you haven't, but she probably has.

like with maggie and those horrible pig ears (which put her into a possessive state which provided us with views of her teeth and gums combined with growls and not playful bites), we just stopped giving them to her. she doesn't need them anyway.

can't wait for part two!

Doc said...


Physically separate feeding locations with some sort of barrier. That is, put the cats food and water upstairs in a location Lucy cannot get to.

Most importantly, put Lucy's food bowl outside. Since she has a feeding schedule, her meals should be outside, separate from the cats. That will be Lucy's meal time alone.

As for chewies, don't give them to her anymore. Or if you do, they are only given outside (which it appears you have done) but if she doesn't finish it, the chewie goes in the trash.

My 2 pesos.