Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Buki update #2

It has been about a year since the first Buki update. Buki is our dog who came to us with a lot of fearful aggression. In July of last year we reunited her with Magano, our other dog, after keeping the two of them completely apart for a year following a bad fight.

Buki and Magano are now best buds. They snuggle together every night, take walks together, play together, eat in the same room, even chase the same ball. They have figured out who is in charge (Buki), who licks (Buki) and who gets licked (Magano), who has first dibs on the big, cushy bed (Buki), who gets to catch the ball (surprisingly equal here, with Buki even waiting patiently while Magano gets in a few good chews). The transformation has been pretty amazing. Also in the last few months, Buki has spent time with about six different young children, and she has loved them all. Little kids like to throw balls over and over. Buki likes to chase balls over and over. It's a match made in heaven.

If only I'd written this update last week, that would have been the end of it. Unfortunately this past weekend we took Buki and Magano with us when we went to visit Tabb's parents, who have two dogs. Buki was very anxious the entire time, with continuous panting, whining and barking. Then on Sunday morning she bit Tabb's parents' dog and broke her toe. Poor Bella will be wearing a splint for six to eight weeks.

I guess we had convinced ourselves that Buki was over whatever trauma she had experienced in her early life. She's not. I guess this is a good reminder for us, about trauma in general, and being "over it."

We are now facing the fact that there are certain things Buki will never do again. She will never run off-leash anywhere there may be other dogs. She won't visit any houses where there are other dogs. She won't go for a walk with Magano and me if Tabb is not with us. She loves running off leash and going places in the car, so thinking of her future makes me sad.

Buki has never been aggressive around children. Whether or not we get to keep her when there are children living in our house is still an open question.

Feeling a little sad tonight, thinking of the sweet puppy lying at my feet. Also feeling grateful for everything she's taught me about boundaries and what she needs to feel safe.


  1. Many wanted to give up on Minxy, my sister's dog who we just lost due to old age, because she was dog-aggressive. Her aggression was fear-based. We learned to live with the fact she would never romp with other dogs in the Good Dog Park. "But why?" asked Riley, "She's a good dog." And she was, just not so much with other dogs. She was always walked on leash, but you can do some serious hiking with a dog on a leash, and we hiked and hiked with her. The problem was always everyone else's dogs who were off leash. We'd have to scream up the trail, "COME GET YOUR DOG!!!!" It was always feared by some that she would bite a child. Not once. Never. Never showed one ounce of aggression toward a human, from newborns on up. She lived with my nieces from the time they were born -- the oldest is now four. She was an amazing dog, as long as she was away from other dogs. The bonus was she loved cats. And she was good with my rabbits too. Go figure.

  2. Oh, your poor sweet girl. You are right that it's a good lesson in the lasting effects of trauma. As much as it might make you sad to think of the things that she cannot do anymore, it sounds like Buki has a wonderful life. She will be missing a few things but not everything. Dogs are amazing parts of our families, and you have given her so much when many would simply shrug and say she's not fixable or not adoptable. I'm sure you get so much from her in return.

  3. Thanks, Karen and Kelly. I've heard from a few people about dogs that are dog-aggressive but people-friendly. It's encouraging. You're right, Karen, we can hike on-leash. Buki is actually pretty calm on a leash, at least until she sees another dog. And even then, if we see the other dog ahead of time we can get Buki seated and prepared for it, and she does OK.

  4. That's a very sweet looking dog. Trauma can recur under certain circumstances. Humans have counselors to help them with trauma. Unfortunately, dogs do not have a lot of support in this area. I suppose your kindness can help her a great deal.

    Peace :)

  5. Having worked in animal welfare for years I want to say how am impressed I am with how hard you have worked for Buki. Most people just give up. Fortunately lots of dogs have dog issues but NO people issues (the classic example of course is the average pit bull).
    The two photos you posted are so interesting because the contrast in Buki's body language really tells the whole story. When the child is on the couch above the dog, Buki is very nervous - "Whale eye," closed mouth, tight lips, ears flat against head, muscle tension. When the kid is on the floor Buki's whole look is soft, and her head is lowered so as not to appear threatening, while she is clearly enjoying the attention.
    It is so hard to know how she will react to children becoming part of her family. You will just have to wait and see. But it sounds like you are laying excellent ground work for success. And, most importantly, that you will notice if things are not right and will not make excuses for your dog that you will later regret. Such a difficult, delicate balance.

  6. Semiferal - that is so interesting, the two different stories that the pictures tell. I don't think I would have noticed that. Thank you!