Sibling Rivalry

Puppies fight. It’s just the nature of puppies. Much like human brothers and sisters.

My late Uncle Sam used to say that no puppies fight worse than Beagle pups. My experience with Sam and Blossum bore out his 97 years of experience.

Muggins and Puggins fight like human sisters might.

Muggins and Puggins fight like human sisters might.

When they were young we lived in Oxford, MS. We rented a house that had a huge yard, but a fault ran through the yard, making the back area about four feet lower than the front.

One night I was watching a bad movie really late. Being a poor college student I couldn’t afford air conditioning, so I had all of the windows open. Over the sound of the television I heard a horrible fight in the back yard. I rushed outdoors, flipping on the floodlights as I went.

I could see no dogs, but the vicious fighting sounds continued.

Down, down, down into the darkness I went toward the battle. I knew I was endangering myself if I reached into the fray, but this pugilistic encounter had to end, even if I had to pay the price.

I reached toward the sound. I found a dog, but couldn’t tell which one I had. No. Wait. This dog weighs too much to be mine. Our yard is fenced, so it can only be both of mine! One was holding on so tight with his or her teeth that the other was hanging. The only way I could think of to separate them was to begin spinning, hoping that centrifugal force would pull them apart. It finally did.

When I took them indoors I expected to find two bloody masses of canine hamburger. Somehow, there wasn’t a scratch on them.

Later that night they curled up in the kitchen together and slept like best friends.

Just as children need to establish dominance, express their egos and build confidence, puppies do the same when there is more than one in a household. It is especially true when the two pups are peers, whether or not they are littermates.

Muggins and Puggins came in today for a visit in their puppy series and their very-attentive owners had questions about just that behavior. Like Sam and Blossum, they fight what seems to be a deadly battle, which is followed by a period of sullen silence, which is followed by a cozy nap.

And it’s all about growing up.

Pearl and Peyton had similar blowups during their younger years.

Eventually siblings and house-mates find a balance and such battles end, or at least diminish. As distressing as the fights are, they are all quite normal.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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