Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast
My niece walking my 110 pound Rottweiler, Mickey, many years ago. Mickey would normally drag anyone walking her, but she just knew to be gentle with my niece.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Holding a Grudge

“Nothing holds a grudge like a female Rottweiler.”
The above saying was coined by my friend Vicki one day at the Humane Society of Gallatin Valley after an incident occurred involving Queen, one of our long-stay Rottweilers. Queen had exacted a rather violent act of revenge on another shelter dog, Mate, who seemed to have a knack for irritating all the other canine tenants at the shelter.  I’m not sure what Mate said to the other dogs in his flurry of intense barks as they passed by his kennel, though I suspect it was far from friendly and likely would have made a sailor blush. I just know that none of the dogs liked Mate, especially Queen. 
Little 85 pound Queen loved her tires
The incident in question occurred following many weeks of Mate’s tormenting. Because of his behavior, Mate was kept in an isolated part of the shelter while the rest of the dogs were moved to and from the outdoor exercise kennels.  After the other dogs had their turns, Mate would be brought out to the exercise yard.  When one of the staff went to move Queen, she slipped loose and made a beeline to the part of the shelter that held Mate.  The two dogs proceeded to exchange verbal insults until Mate, foolishly, stuck his nose through the gap in the doorframe of the kennel.  Queen latched on and pulled Mate out of the kennel by his face, bending the doorframe in the process.  Before she could do any serious damage, the staff caught up to her and separated the dogs. 
Thankfully, Mate was fine outside of a small cut on his muzzle, and he was adopted a few weeks later, allowing the shelter to return to normalcy, if there is such a thing in the animal care world.  Now, what is important to understand about the altercation is that Queen was friendly to all of the other dogs in the shelter, and I used her regularly to teach kids in elementary schools about dog behavior.  She really was a good dog, except when it came to Mate.

Vicki’s bit of wisdom that day has been proven true time and time again in my life. Not only do female Rottweilers hold a grudge but they are jealous, spiteful creatures who are not afraid to express their cantankerous behavior or their angst at a particular situation.

When I first started teaching dog behavior and handling classes, I was only doing so for regional animal shelters.  When I was asked to do a class for a large veterinary clinic and boarding facility in Laurel, Montana, I was honored and a bit concerned, as I knew my audience would be experts in dogs, at least in the medical aspects.  Thankfully, the class went well and those that attended were impressed with my material and how well-behaved my dogs, Mickey and Griz, were during the demonstrations.  Now, I should have known that Mickey was angry at me for being used during the handling demos.  She gave me ‘the look’ several times when I led her out in front of the class.  At the end of the class, before leaving for the two-hour drive home, I let Mickey and Griz out into one of the big exercise areas of the facility so they could relieve themselves.  I watched both dogs do their business and then loaded them up to leave.  Upon arriving home, I offered to let the dogs out into my backyard so they could relieve themselves again, but Mickey just looked me right in the eye and then urinated in the middle of my living room.  Please note that Mickey had been with me for almost seven years at that point, was fully house trained, and could hold her bladder for ten hours if needed.  What she did was deliberate and a very clear message to me.  I heard her loud and clear, and never again did I use her in my demonstrations.   
My girl Mickey taught me a lot about how Rotties hold a grudge
When my girl Belle came along, I knew she would be even more intense that Mickey had ever been.  Belle, being protection trained and rather dominant, tended to view everything as hers, including myself.  To say that Belle was a jealous creature would be an understatement.  If I left the house with a female friend, I knew there would be a price to pay later.  Thankfully, unlike Mickey, Belle didn’t exact her price by marking.  Nope, being the bitch that she was, she preferred to destroy things.  She didn’t destroy just anything, nor did she display typical destructive behavior that could have be associated with separation anxiety. No, she was very specific, finding something of value to me and hiding it, only to return it later, or she would chew up something and leave it for me to find in a very obvious spot.  One of the best examples I can recall was when I left the house in the car of a female friend of mine.  When I returned, I found that Belle had taken a plate out of the sink, dropped it to the floor, breaking it, and had taken the big pieces and left them in a pile in the middle of my living room, twenty feet away.  Another time she took utensils out of the sink and laid them in a perfect line in the living room again, the line pointing to my driveway, where I had been picked up. She also managed to chew up an unopened can of tuna, and if it hadn’t rolled under the couch, I’m sure she would have dined on it in its entirety.  This was, again, in response to me leaving the house with a female friend.  Now, if I went to work or left on my own, no problem, Belle wouldn’t do a thing.  Her revenge always resulted because of me spending time with another female. 
Belle and I on one of many road trips together
My current female Rottweiler, Carly, has shown very similar behaviors to Belle’s, though she has expanded her revenge to include the times I leave to walk dogs   with a friend who lives a few blocks away. I notice a look on Carly’s face the moment I close the door, and I know that there will be retribution because I am walking somewhere without her.  As a result, much to the humor of my friend, I now drive the two block distance to his house.  You see, Carly is okay if I drive away, as that is normal. I go to work, or to the store, and I always come back.  But to go out the front door without her, well, apparently in her code of conduct that is not allowed.
My ever jealous Carly
Could I mitigate these behaviors? Sure, I could crate or kennel my dogs, but I would rather not.  Having had many female Rottweilers, I’ve learned to accept these quirks in their behavior and even enjoy them to a certain extent.  I do make efforts to minimize the likelihood of Carly feeling as though she needs to exact revenge, but I know that it will happen again at some point.  She is, after all, a female Rottweiler, the jealous, grudge-holding creatures that they are.

Do you have a dog that holds a grudge?  Share your story about dogs holding a grudge in the comment section below. If you want to know more about my efforts as a writer, be sure to check out my Facebook and Twitter pages.  You can also learn more about me at my website  There you can find links to where you can purchase my first novel, Stranger’s Dance.  

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