Sunday, June 26, 2011

New Kid on the Block

His name is Mr. Stubbs and we estimate him to be a year and a half old. He's missing a tooth and nearly half his tail. A beautiful animal we thought might possibly be a Carolina Dog. A little over three months ago he decided to visit Cheatham County Animal Control for food. Eventually, he came in. No owner. Wild-caught as it were. The first time I visited, he was calm, he knew the "Let's Go Outside" routine. He didn't bark. He didn't jump. He watched what you did and acted accordingly. He marked certain spots outside. He paid attention to his surroundings using his eyes, ears & nose. He wasn't difficult. Didn't require controlling or anything of that sort. He seemed content and confident. Didn't mind that I had the leash and went with me. I was pretty sure if I took the leash off, he would naturally heel and follow me wherever I went. You would probably describe him as a perfect gentlemen. I visited a second time, with my husband. We took him out for another walk, checked out his tail. We talked about his looks and his behavior. We talked to the Animal Control about his history, verifying that he voluntarily came in. We examined his tail to determine whether it short through natural birth or some later accident. Then we contacted Rachel Nagher, a master's degree student studying Carolina Dog populations under Dr. Brisban at the Savannah River Ecology Lab, who first identified the Carolina Dog in the wild. Eventually Ms. Nagher helped us with on-site verification and we have brought Mr. Stubbs to Mule Shoe Farm to be fostered with the other Carolina Dogs.

This put Mr. Stubbs in the middle of the changing pack dynamics between Wodi, Dora and Carmel. How would his presence affect the relationships of the females? I took him around to be greeted by the males and let the females had their initial look at him. Carmel greeted him with barking, fur raised all along her spine and growling with bared teeth. Wodi and Dora touched noses, sniffed him, let him sniff them in a limited fashion but no aggression that was obvious enough to note. Carmel was having none of this new dog. We put him on a thirty foot run with a twenty foot cable, close enough to the house to observe him, yet out of the front yard territory we have previously observed in the Wodi/Dora dynamics of the past few weeks. Carmel repeatedly charged him, fur raised, bared teeth snarling and growling. He was non-plussed. After the fourth or fifth foray by Carmel, he turned his behind to her and spaced his hind feet fairly far apart and stood there. Letting her run at him repeatedly. She never touched him. Never got close enough or quiet enough to sniff him. At one point Wodi, went up to Stubbs' hindquarters as if to show Carmel how it's done. She surprised the heck out of Mr. Stubbs when her wet nose touched him, but everything between the two of them was quite cordial. Carmel kept on. Eventually we all went inside to discuss the day's events and after an hour or so, Carmel's forays became less rapid and seemed to stop. Sometime in the middle of the night or very early morning, I woke up to the realization that the females were barking their guarding bark they have and it was quite bit closer to the house than usual. When I peeked out the window, Mr. Stubbs was trying to come into the front yard. He had slipped his collar and the females, all three together were preventing him from doing so. Carmel was leading the "charge" as it were. Once he was put back on his line in his proper spot and the collar adjusted, everything settled down to normal and the night was quiet.

Now all three females are back on the porch together. Wodi and Carmel usually sleep together and Dora is not far away. Dora is certainly not banished from the pack at the moment. Saturday morning saw Wodi & Carmel in the whelping box and Dora sleeping in front of the door. Sunday morning saw Dora in the whelping box and Wodi with Carmel under the car. There has been no aggression toward Dora that we have observed since Mr. Stubbs arrived. We will continue to keep an eye on the situation to see how it evolves over the next few weeks.
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