Sibling rivalry

February 9th, 2023 by Ken

Moxie, my five-pound Yorkie,  sensed danger around the corner.  He tugged hard at his leash.  He planted his four feet squarely on the concrete and stiffened his neck.  The growl started from a rumble deep in his throat then burst force with ferocity.  The bark followed, loud and full of deeply held anger.

One, two, three barks escaped before I tugged on the leash.  He stopped for a few brief seconds, then started up again.  I pulled on his leash stronger and even lifted his five-pound body off the ground a few inches.

The wind blew a large piece of paper along the street, making a scraping noise as it went.  That was what he heard. Moxie didn’t quite know what to think of it, but wanted to smell it anyway.  We made our way to the paper and I let him sniff.  It was fine and wasn’t harmful he decided and turned his head to look at me and see what we were going to do next.

Moxie is a Yorkie, but he’s very small.  He was the runt of the litter at five pounds.  But, he’s full of courage and will bark and growl at anything he thinks is a threat to me, to himself or to the pack.  He even took on a mother raccoon who tore open Moxie’s stomach and sent him to the pet hospital for three nights.

We’ve had  him for about five years, but really hadn’t trained him in all of the ways we thought necessary.  So, when my wife and I retired, a year later we got ourselves another Yorkie we named Minnie.  She’s a full size Yorkshire Terrier.  She is also Moxie’s half sister.  Same mother, different dad.

Having a half-sister in the house with an older male is just another word for sibling rivalry and male dominance.  Moxie is a year older, so Minnie is learning behavior from Moxie.

Minnie is twice as large as Moxie.  In the early days Minnie gave Moxie a great deal of respect and began to learn proper behavior from him.  Unfortunately, Moxie didn’t have a great deal of training.  As the weeks went by, Minnie tried to imitate Moxie, even when he was humping his favorite toy.  (Both dogs have been fixed.)  It was interesting watching Minnie try to mimic Moxie’s moves.  She often stood behind him and moved in unison with the moves he made.  But, she soon saw no reason for doing so and quickly lost interest.

Now Minnie is older and is beginning to challenge Moxie for top dog status.

Minnie is stronger and faster than Moxie and lets him know it whenever she has a chance.  When we let them outside, Minnie out runs Moxie to the back fence.  Moxie can’t out run her, but has decided to take a short cut across the yard and often beats her to the finish.

Moxie tries to keep her under control by his growling and barking.  She used to be afraid and would back off.  But, recently she has discovered that she is stronger than Moxie.  Sometimes when they’re playing, Minnie will get Moxie down and sit on him.  At other times, she will grab him by the collar and drag him around the floor.

That of course enrages Moxie and he will go into his most fierce alpha male role by growling, hissing, barking and nipping at Minnie’s ear.  Occasionally he will nip hard enough and will back off when Minnie yelps.  But it isn’t all one-sided.  Minnie will nip back when she thinks he’s gone too far.

When we take the dogs for a walk, Minnie trots right along on her leash without a care in the world. She enjoys the new smells and the new sounds  Moxie however, has to mark his territory against other dogs which slows down the walk.  He also reacts at every new sound or smell and feels obligated to take on his role as protector of the pack.  Walking Moxie is a lesson in patience.


Posted in The Real News

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