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Loss Of An Alpha...is This All Tied Together?


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Tomorrow it will have been a month since Sammi went to The Bridge. (I know, I know.. I still haven't gotten to writing a proper post to remember her. Still difficult)

 

It's been a rough time for Lynni and River. Not only was it the kick off week for Firework Season (ugh), and having to deal with my being an emotional trainwreck, but Sammi was the Alpha and the Keeper of the Clocks. Will they eventually decide who will step up and put on the crown? Or can a pair/pack get along without a leader that doesn't have 4 legs?

 

When L&R were adopted last year, they just sorta picked up Sammi's Schedule:

~They were fed at 630am and 630pm because Sammi said so. Sleeping in was a rare occurrence. If we tried sleeping in, she would use her needle nose and nasal whine to get us up. And once your feet hit the floor in the morning, Sammi was a ticking time bomb. Had to eat and get outside.

~They went potty right after meals because Sammi said so. #1 & #2

~They had an afternoon pee break around 1pm because Sammi said so.

~They had an evening pee break and a "right before bed" pee break because... you guessed it... Sammi said so.

~Prior to her decline in health, walks were (every time but winter) before it got too hot and after it cooled down. Winter would be hit or miss depending on wind chill the past 2 winters.

 

The past few weeks:
~it's been hit or miss if they even will walk.

~I can count on 1 hand how many zoomie attacks have occurred.

~Same goes for stuffy play

~Not much roo'ing either. Before vacation, there was 1 roo from Lynni, 3 weeks since Sammi passed, and 0 from River.

~They don't care when breakfast hits. Potty breaks are like pulling teeth. As I am writing this, they had breakfast at 730am and River still hasn't gone #2 and has no interest in doing so. Almost every potty break is like this now. It's like we're back to square 1 when we adopted them. Lynni takes forever, but WILL go potty. River is stubborn. I've finally just stopped trying to make her go and bring her back in. We have enough loons talking to themselves in this town, don't need me out there trying to bargain with her.

 

For a week, River would whine to go outside and then just stare off into the distance, whining. I think she was looking for Sammi :cry1 It stopped when we decided to feed her in Sammi's old spot at the water dishes and her bedtime treat on Sammi's bed, now her bed. When her confusion about those changes stopped, so did the searching/whining outside.

 

We also had to deal with some seriously mysterious itching. Shortly after Sammi passed, L&R started itching a lot. At one point, Lynni chewed her hip so bad that she bled. Benadryl didn't work. (Fireworks didn't help) We tried bathing them. We tried a dish soap bath when we feared it was fleas (They're on Sentinel & FL+ ) In fact, I had to delay the FL+ a few days because of the baths. I vac'd twice a day, the washer never stopped running, I scrubbed, I inspected, I treated, I sprayed, etc... Want to know how many fleas we found between 2 baths (one being dish soap), dusting vacuuming, spraying and combing? We think....

 

One.

 

That's it.

 

A possible dead flea. We're not sure. It was discovered on the overstuffed chair, not a dog. It could have been just a dead gnat. Or a chip of a nail. Or an NSA nano drone.

 

So on goes the FL+ now that their skin & fur have recovered from the bathing (and I was determined it would be on & soaked in before we went to the island). Lynni continued to dig and chew at herself, River was sitting down on walks to itch and licking her feet in the house. I was still The Hoover Queen. Then, a couple weeks ago, when the itching was at it's worst, we started switching them to a different food. They love it, poops are firm, and itching has since become almost non existent. Every so often, Lynni will want to itch her belly (nothing there, I look) and River may want to scratch her ear... usually when we're outside and she doesn't want to potty. So we think that we solved the itching.

 

So now that I've tried to explain the gist of what has been going on, I guess I am wondering how much of this is normal when a pack loses the alpha? Honestly the most lively they've been in the past month was at the island (NO. I am not getting a Chihuahua) They played, they Roo'd, they wanted to go on walks again, and they pottied on a somewhat normal schedule.

 

Do I just let them create their own schedule? Do I make them stick to the one that Sammi enforced?

 

They definitely love to sleep in. No longer am I ordered out of bed by a bossy Queen on weekends. We can get up, go to the bathroom, get some coffee and they'll just move from the bedroom to the living room and chill. Feed them. Finish coffee if I want. No longer is there a necessity to get outside right after eating. In fact, I think they dislike that idea tremendously. So I let them relax again after eating. Same for dinner. They're fed around a specific time only because of River's Incurin. But there is no trampling me to get to the door and outside to potty. I do not want to get into the habit of just letting them go potty on walks because on days where we can't have our walks, I don't want to run into issues with going potty (like the issue River has atm) So I still prefer them to associate the first time after a meal that they go out the door is potty time. After that, walkie time!

 

Just not sure what to do here. It's been many many years since I didn't have to rush out the door for potty breaks that maybe I am the one that is lost without my Keeper of the Clocks, not Lynni & River.

Edited by Gryffenne
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I think they were lost, at first, without their leader. And grieving. They are gradually adjusting, and you can let them set their own schedule, as long as it works for you. With just two, you may not have a noticeable alpha, two isn't really a "pack". I am sure you will get a lot more detailed info from much more experienced people, but that's my .02

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I'm not one to have a pack, but certainly I feel like you should dictate the new schedule, perhaps set one up that works better for you. If it doesn't work, let sleeping dogs lie. They go out when they need to go out.

 

I know Kasey and Ryder go when I say go, unless someone really has to go they will ask. We have our general routine but it is never to the minute. They know they go out now after breakfast and not before (A change made a year ago), they know they get walked when I come home and will get fed within an hour of that time. They know they have last pee before bed, usually when it's dark out.

 

They don't have watches. Sammi musta been something special.

Proudly owned by:
10 year old "Ryder" CR Redman Gotcha May 2010
12.5 year old Angel "Kasey" Goodbye Kasey Gotcha July 2005-Aug 1, 2015

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Well, I have been in your shoes. When we lost our alpha, I still miss her, the boys were lost. No one asked to go outside. No one played. They insisted in being on us. They were sad and lonely. There was no boss anymore.

 

We thought they needed another buddy so we adopted Myrtle who was only 18 months old at the time. She was a holy terror! They loved her but we still didn't and still don't have an alpha even though we have 3 hounds. Myrtle thinks it is our old guy, Ziggy. She pees on his pee every day. :hehe They wanted her to be the alpha and wanted to have a boss, but we don't have one. I have to admit that I wanted there to be an alpha! I wanted someone to be the "walkie boss." We still don't have one.

 

Our schedule also changed. We have to go outside before breakfast. Ziggy can't hold it anymore.(He's 12 going on 13.) There are 4 walks each day and the length is dependent upon the weather. Supper is around 6:30P.M. each day unless something happens and then it is as close to that as possible.

 

Good Luck!

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Well, I have been in your shoes. When we lost our alpha, I still miss her, the boys were lost. No one asked to go outside. No one played. They insisted in being on us. They were sad and lonely. There was no boss anymore.

 

We thought they needed another buddy so we adopted Myrtle who was only 18 months old at the time. She was a holy terror! They loved her but we still didn't and still don't have an alpha even though we have 3 hounds. Myrtle thinks it is our old guy, Ziggy. She pees on his pee every day. :hehe They wanted her to be the alpha and wanted to have a boss, but we don't have one. I have to admit that I wanted there to be an alpha! I wanted someone to be the "walkie boss." We still don't have one.

 

Our schedule also changed. We have to go outside before breakfast. Ziggy can't hold it anymore.(He's 12 going on 13.) There are 4 walks each day and the length is dependent upon the weather. Supper is around 6:30P.M. each day unless something happens and then it is as close to that as possible.

 

Good Luck!

Yes, they're very clingy. Lynni's gone from next to you/in the room with you, to on you. River was a velcro before, now tho...she's a whole new level of cling.

 

I shall call her Dermis Dog

 

der·mis
ˈdərmis/
noun
technical
noun: dermis
  1. the skin.
    • Anatomy
      the thick layer of living tissue below the epidermis that forms the true skin, containing blood capillaries, nerve endings, sweat glands, hair follicles, and other structures.

That is definitely the level she is trying to achieve :rotfl

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I agree that the schedule should be one that suits you, but within that framework, let them do what they want. When I got Conner, I tried to make him go out before bed because he won't use the dog door. His foster mom told me he could hold it forever, so I quit trying to make him go out, and he has never had an accident or asked to go out at night. When I lost my alpha a few years ago, the remaining two dogs took about three months before they seemed to "get over" his loss. It is a hard adjustment for all of you :bighug

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I think it's probably just grief, and picking up on your emotions. Do your best to provide a routine for them, make sure you are all getting plenty of exercise to release happy happy endorphins ;) and do something special with each of them. Take a Nosework class, play food puzzles, go for a ride to a favorite spot, anything to expend mental energy and bond. You'll get through this and they will too. :grouphug

 

ETA: You might also think about something to help them through this adjustment. Calming chews might lessen anxiety (Composure) or something like sam-e that can increase serotonin levels and is used to help treat depression in humans might help. Under the guidance of your vet of course.

Edited by NeylasMom

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Sounds like they are grieving. I've found that slow walks with no particular place to go seems to help. Keeping expectations to a minimum also helps to get past this. Should be an uptick in attitude after about 3 months - you'll notice that they get more active and hopefully less clingy.

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