What’s in a name?

The Midget is not small. When he came to us at six weeks of age he was small. At that time the Golden Wonder was nearly six months old and comparatively he was big. The Golden Wonder is a border collie (in spite of his colour), at six months he was a beautiful big golden fluffy puppy and the Midget was an ugly six week, bald malinois.

Their friendship was consolidated through months of rolling around on the big dog bed biting each other, pulling ears, tails and legs, clashing teething, growling and pawing. They played. They discovered what hurt, what was acceptable, who was stronger, and who was bigger. The Golden giant quickly learnt he could keep the Midget in line; tell him off when he bit too hard; pin him down if he tried to get the upper hand. The Golden Wonder thought he was top dog.

One hot summer day we had visitors. They had a dog, a dog we were told, that fights other dogs. ‘Its ok’ they said, ‘we can leave him in the car all day.’

In this heat – I don’t think so!

We have a kennel in the garden so I suggested they put the wayward dog in there. The owners were concerned he would fight our dogs through the kennel bars as our dogs roamed the garden. I reassured them that our dogs would just avoid the hostile canid.

Our five dogs were shut in the house whilst the visitor was safely installed in the kennel with a big bowl of water and his bed from the car. Once settle we could forget about him and get on with our barbeque.

As time passed our dogs needed to come into the garden. One at a time we let them out for a wee and as expected the kennelled dog flew at them. All of our dogs (having been well socialised), looked at the aggressor, quickly realised he was caged and turned their backs and blanked him. They pottered around their garden as usual simply ignoring the rage coming from the kennel. All of our dogs that is, except the Golden Wonder. He looked around the garden, summed up the situation and decided action was needed. With a cheerful grin on his face he made a dash for the kennel where he instantly turned into a rabid attack dog. I followed suit and turned my fury onto the Golden attacker. I took a firm hold on him and pointed out in my politest voice ‘We don’t behave like that!’

He said ‘but you don’t understand there is an aggressive dog in the kennel that needs to be sorted out.’ I said quite firmly, No, you don’t understand – WE don’t behave like that!’

He still did not believe me so we repeated the conversation. – Twice!

After a few minutes the Golden Wonder realised it was probably best to do what our other dogs were doing and ignore the aberrant spaniel in the kennel.

Peace reigned. The sun shone and the barbeque was a success with no more outbreaks of hostility on the front line.

I often think about the temperament of dogs. Was the planned attack (planned not actual due to my intervention) from my dog due to an inherited aggressive streak? He certainly was not fearful – he ran towards the aggressive dog with a smile on his face. If he were frightened he could have kept away. He chose to go in. Had he learnt from playing with the Midget that the best way to stop the spaniel going for him was to get tough with it? Or did he merely enjoy the fracas?

Whatever the reason I now felt the need to test him in other situations to see if he was now becoming belligerent after having witnessed this behaviour from the spaniel. He was after all a teenager now (if you relate the months in a dog’s life roughly to the years of a human).

Thankfully, interactions in the local park were unchanged, except where there were dogs he did not know, or those who looked like they could be problematic the Golden Wonder chose not to see them. Was that because I had told him off in no uncertain terms for showing signs of aggression? Or was he slightly cautious now he knows that not all dogs are friendly? Who knows?

As everyone in dogs knows, we can never take any dog’s temperament for granted. We need always to remember they see the world differently from us and we can never predict one hundred percent what our dogs will do in any given situation. The minute we guarantee what our dog will, or will not do – he does something different – just to make us look a fool!

Meanwhile the Midget has grown. At twelve months the Mali towers above the 17 month collie. But the Golden Wonder has firmly established in his mind he controls the Midget. This has been repeated time over through the growing period. But the Midget has grown. Really! Does the Golden Wonder not realise he is now dicing with death. The Midget is beginning to resent the little collie rushing in and gripping as he takes the ball from the Midget.

‘He Who Knows Best’ says it will end in tears. The self appointed male chauvinist says about himself "I am always right." Infuriatingly he usually is! This often causes much scoffing amongst friends.

Recently we were all out playing dog training and one of our illustrious playmates was holding court on the training field when He Who Knows Best interrupted with,

‘You know mate, there is only one thing that stops you being the best dog trainer here.’

‘What’s that?’ his mate enquired.

‘Me!’ -He Who Knows Best excelled himself!

We all fell about laughing!

The Midget is actually called Midge but affectionately known as Midget the Fidget. He is a handsome young dog (as mali’s go) and is training up very well.

The Golden Wonder is named Smartie and when someone asked me if he was a Smartie Pants, I had to confess, ‘most of the time he is just Pants!’

I hold my breath as I watch the towering Midget being bullied by my beautiful Golden Wonder. As the Midget’s confidence catches up with his body size will he put the little collie in his place as Mr Right predicts? Will there be a change of rank?

Time will tell; I only know that if these two young male dogs do argue, mine will loose. I just hope that if it does happen the Golden Wonder’s beautiful looks will not be spoiled. As it is sooo pretty.

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