Debbie and Memphis
Memphis has issues. Shortly after we brought him home from the breeder, he was getting into fights with the other dogs. When he was just three months old he jumped off my lap to attack Boston his older brother. At only 35 pounds and six months of age, Memphis was so aggressive I was afraid I would have to put him down.
Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year Memphis and I were laying down on the floor together watching It’s a Wonderful World. I was tired and drifting in and out of sleep. Suddenly, Memphis jumped over me and began fighting viciously with Boston. They were growling and biting and tearing at
each other. I watched as Memphis pinned his brother to the floor and was biting uncontrollably at his face and neck. Being half asleep and I forgot everything I knew about dog bite prevention and reached my hands it to break it up. Almost immediately, I could feel teeth piercing my flesh and felt two canines coming together inside my hand.
I was awake now, and knew not to pull away and risk having my thumb separated from my hand. At some point he let go and I tried again to grab his collar. I was holding Memphis with two hands when Bob finally arrived to pull Boston to safety. They were now downstairs on the otherside of a closed door. Memphis paced and circled upstairs with me while I sat on the floor assessing the situation. Both of my hands felt hot as blood covered them and I was going into shock. I called Bob to help me. He put Boston in a crate in one room and Memphis in a crate in another. Then we began rinsing my hands. The stinging water washed away the blood to reveal no less than six puncture wounds. The doctor said I did the right thing not to pull my hand out of the dogs mouth because there was no nerve or tendon damage, antibacterial and bandages was all he recommended.
Knowing his behavior, I was careful to never lose Memphis. He always kept close to me even off leash. He was more likely to run into the house or into his crate than to run into the woods around the house. But that day he did. I panicked because he never left the yard by himself he didn’t know his way around the neighborhood. After calling him for a few minutes, I got in my car to find him.
Boston would run off every six months or so and to get him I would drive to the same spot and wait for him to find me. This was the first time Memphis ever ran off, I did not know were to start. After what seemed like an hour of driving up and down the street, I saw our neighbor come out of his driveway. I asked him if he had seen a little red dog, he said that he had. He was in his yard a while ago and barked at him when he reached for him. I knew what Memphis was capable of so I was glad when he said he chased him away. Shortly after that he said he saw him following a blue Honda Element up the street. That was me, Memphis was following me and I didn’t even see him.
Now I really panicked because I had driven quite a ways and Memphis could be anywhere along my route. I immediately went to the street corner, parked my car and called his name.
“Memphis, Memphis come!”
“Hoody who, yo Memphis, Memphis is a good boy, Memphis come, come, come, you’re a good boy, Memphis come!”
To my relief, he came out of the woods and ran right to me. I scooped him up and brought him home.
Clinically, “idiopathic rage” is a seizure disorder of unknown origin. I have not been to a veterinary behaviorist to have Memphis formally diagnosed. Although most of the dog trainers I have talked to believe he is reactive, I am convinced he has rage.
When clients come to me and tell me their dog is aggressive, I usually call it reactive. I explain that their dog overreacts in certain situations. They lose control of themselves and act aggressively. It is the act of losing control that leads to the aggression; so, in most cases. the aggressive behavior can be prevented when we teach the dog self-control. To do this, I give the dog owner advice on how to create an environment where the dog can feel safe and in control.
This is what I do with Memphis. “Idiopathic” means we don’t know what causes it. Why would a dog fight with his brother? I just don't know.