I didn't expect to be getting a THIRD dog at this time in our lives, but Belle the Yorkie could not be ignored. She desperately needed a very involved family and some behavior reconditioning.
But, one day, Lyla used her big jaw and big body to pin the little Yorkie against the wall so that they'd have an "understanding." It helped. A little. At least Belle the Yorkie now understood that the big dog was not a push over, she was simply patient, but that patience was wearing thin.
Meanwhile, we were learning techniques that worked with Belle to distract her from her one-way mindset of going after Lyla. This little dog could not even let Lyla take a nap; she wanted to constantly demonstrate some form of dominance and aggression. We found that popping a rolled up newspaper in our hands would often be enough to distract Belle from her ugly task, she did not like the sound of the paper popping and she'd finally snap her head upward toward the noise and decide to do something different. But, the need to do this remained constant.
At one point, this Momma thought it'd never work. I thought that this household would not be the right one for Belle because my Lyla, Big Red, deserves some peace and quiet in her last years...not some neurotic dog who constantly tried to pick a fight. And since this Momma is the one who is the main care-giver of the dogs for the most amount of time, this doggie's address was in danger of changing.
However, a good idea came along. Get the dog a muzzle to wear during her high-stress moments for behavior modification. PetCo had a nice mesh muzzle that still allows a dog to drink, eat and to bark, but not as easily. They just can't open their mouths full jaw open. With her aggression, we decided to give it a try during the high aggression points during the day.
It was a miracle. Over the first week of wearing the muzzle for short periods of time, such as when all three are released from their kennels in the morning...Belle is most aggressive in the first 15 minutes of the morning...the muzzle goes on for these 15 minutes and now we are seeing a huge difference in her personality. Even better, my beautiful Lyla no longer has to be mindful and concerned with grumblings that she's about to be bitten from behind by that little stinker, so Lyla is more at ease in the morning, as she should be.
We've been using the muzzle for the past month and I would never have believed that this little contraption could prompt such big changes in a dog's personality. A gentle form of control has given us a proper way to tame Belle's panicked instinct to constantly be looking for a fight. Yorkies can be stubborn little boogers, known for being killed by larger dogs simply because the Yorkie won't back down. My Lyla is part Boxer and could have Belle for lunch, if she wanted, but because Lyla is such a well-trained, beautiful spirited dog, Belle is given chance after chance and put in her place firmly, yet safely when needed by Lyla's nurturing manner.
Belle is now to the point to where she can lie side by side next to Lyla and be at peace. We've come a long way. They play in the backyard together and Lyla always keeps her eye out for Belle's well-being. She's grown attached to the little butt-biter.
Beyond that, Belle is so intelligent that she picks up on everything Howdy does. It seems that Belle thinks that she's really an Australian Shepherd.
Everything Howdy does, from circling the chickens to playing fetch, she does too. She observes and then jumps right in to mimic his behavior. It's the most incredible thing to see a dog do.
And she's off to run for the ball!
She loves catching the ball. Yes, she can stuff that tennis ball in her mouth. She can jump and catch it mid-air. She's learned to bring us the ball so she can keep playing. She's a barker during these games, but it sure lets her expend her boundless energy.
This week, even though Stefie has been attending college since she graduated from high school, she's now gone off to Texas State to finish her degree to be a Child-Life Specialist. Stefie has done her best to help out with Belle --- she has taken her to the vet, she takes her to be groomed and gives her plenty of attention when she's here.
Stefie spreads some love around to the dogs, yes, even to Howdy who is goofy about her.
However, on her list of things to do during the week before she left for college was to send Belle to the groomer again. This time, she'd give a new place a try.
Needless to say, we barely recognized Belle upon her return. Our mouths dropped open. Is this a Yorkie or a Gremlin I wondered? I dare not use the "U" word for fear of hurting her little doggie feelings, but all that beautiful hair is GONE! What were they thinking? It's WINTER for goodness sakes. She had NO fleas and NO matted hair, just a few tangles at the top of her head that were no big deal. The rest of her body had hair still too short to get tangled, but it had been curly and luxurious.
Now...she's just...shaved...from head to toe...shaved. I think her feelings are wounded. This little dog has made great strides in changing for the better, but after this haircut, I don't recognize her. Is this the same dog?
I've been there Belle. It'll grow back, I promise. Hang in there, it'll grow back.