Backtrack to Friday evening.
Fridays I take a jumping lesson. I came home, did chores, changed into my English riding gear, and went to the door. Both Reba and Tessa were excited. They thought that they too would be able to go outside and play. And then it all went wrong. Quickly. Without any staring contests, all it took was a glance and Reba was on Tessa. It was an epic battle with neither dog willing to concede to the other. Throwing stuff at them, hollering, I finally reaching in (remember my dogs don't wear collars unless working), I grabbed the only thing available. My brother who has a hunting dog once told me that grabbing and twisting the ear is an easy and painful correction for a dog. (Really, think about how that would feel for you.) So I reaching in and got hold of Reba's ear, with my other hand I grabbed hold of Tessa's ear. Twisting and pulling in opposite directions I managed to get them separated. By this point in time, Reba had Tessa on her back and was strangulating her. Tessa's tongue was sticking out but she was still growling.
Shoving my body between the two of them I forced them into lie down. Using my leg I shoved Tessa further away, and finally brought the baby gate in to keep them apart. This was a horrifically scary thing to witness. Both of these dogs understand I'm top dog, both of these dogs understand I won't tolerate this type of aggression. Yet it happened. Incredibly quickly with very little provocation. Thursday, they were happy as can be walking and playing together. Is it because Tessa's been "off" the last few days? Weaker than normal? I had thought I had stamped out any negative aggressive type behavior from Reba. And until this last heat cycle she hadn't given me any reason to doubt it. Why the resurgence? They've been getting lots of play and exercise.
Jump forward to today.
I had someone from the agility world come out to work her dog on my sheep. After her work, we let the puppies out and played with them. Luke, of course, was the superstar. He certainly likes to play. And once she left, all four dogs and I went for a walk (cut short by the wicked wind). Once the adult dogs were in the house, the pups and I went into their shed, where we shared a cuddle. Diva, hind legs scrambling, climbed into my lap and began making groaning sounds as she settled in for a nap. Luke, leaning against my leg in quiet contentment.
And my heart cracked right in two.
My dearest friend always says there's plan A, and then there's what really happens. Well, plan A had been to keep a - as in one - female pup. Plan B became let the female pup go and keep the male. And Plan C?
Well, plan C, seems to be leaning towards offering Reba to Nick (the home who lost a pup) or finding him a different pup, if he wants a baby. And then, come spring, find Reba a new home. The hard thing here, is I love her. I really do. There are countless times throughout the day when I look over at her and just smile. She fills my heart. But the constant fight against the fight - is flat out exhausting. And Tessa, she's my girl, and I can't have her golden years be filled with anxiety and stress. My biggest worry right now is as she become less mentally proficient, that Reba will become more aggressive towards her. After all, isn't that what happens in the wild?
And Luke, bless his little heart, if I found just the perfect home, I think I'd let him go, to give Diva the home she needs. Otherwise, I'll structure things to make Diva more successful. The pups have Reba's positive qualities, without the negative. Making them a pretty strong lure for me to resist.
This weekend has been exhausting. Keeping all the balls in the air, and the two big girls separate, while giving everyone enough attention and exercise. This is not how I wish to live my life. And clearly, is not a good way for the dogs to live either.
Like the wind, I flit and flip, this way and that, until I eventually settle upon the ground. Decision in hand.