The Opportunity for Alpha

In the whole of Dexter’s life he has always had an Alpha to look up to.  From what we pieced together from his very early puppyhood he did not have a good home life.  The neighbor who found him, whimpering and laying in the road next to the curb in front of her house, suspected he came from a house a couple doors down from her and across the street.  The people who lived there had dogs that always barked.  Their yard was fenced but through the holes you could see it was dirt and littered with trash and broken appliances.  The cops made frequent visits to this sad house for domestic dispute issues.  There was no way she was taking this puppy back there and since Husband and I have always been suckers for stray animals she did not have to.

Dexter was not a roly poly, fat bellied, bundle of wiggly fur.  He looked sickly, his fur was dull, his belly button was grossly herniated, and he was tick infected.  He was lethargic and had difficulty breathing.  He was under nourished, weighing nineteen pounds at an estimated age of three months.  His chest x-rays showed signs of an infection and he had a chronic cough.  He was tested for a variety of diseases but in particular I remember the vet submitting a Distemper PCR test to the U of A.  I was working in the DNA sequencing laboratory at ASU at the time and wished I could have run the test myself to save time.

All his test results came back negative, his herniated bellybutton was fixed and he started packing on the pounds.  His fur shined and he blossomed into a happy, loveable dog.  He remained nervous of loud noises and cereal boxes.  And he very much disliked men in hats (not to be confused with the Canadian 80’s band, Men Without Hats, popular for their song The Safety Dance) especially if they were carrying balloons.  During his first puppy training classes he would cower from the other dogs and bark at them and their owners.  We were told he may have the tendency to become a fear biter.

Dexter has never bit anyone out of fear or otherwise.  He always relied on Rosy to protect him; he was the bark and she was the bite.  Now that Rosy is no longer with us this is his chance to grab that coveted Alpha role.  After seeing what I saw earlier today I don’t think that is going to happen.

The boys and I came home after Cody’s physical therapy this morning and Husband, who was working out of the house, let Dexter out the front door to greet us.  Delilah, the-cat- who-is-not-our-cat-but-who-has-become-our-cat-and-has-a-litter-box-and-cat-furniture-in-our-house, was already outside (I really need to write a post about “our half cat” someday.)  There was a stand-off.  Fur was raised, growls were emitted, and direct eye contact was maintained.  Dexter held his ground.  Delilah did not – she advanced.  Dexter walked sideways.  Delilah followed.  They circled, the circle getting smaller and smaller until I felt compelled to step in.  Delilah, momentarily distracted by my shouting, looked my way.  Dexter seeing his opportunity, took it – and ran the other way.

I picked up Delilah and plopped her in the house.  Dexter and I hung out in the sun with the boys for a couple minutes before he expressed interest in going back in the house.  I opened up the door for him and as he walked in the door he was sprung upon.  Delilah was waiting for him in the little windowsill of the tall stained glass window by our door.  It did not end well for Dexter.

I think we have a new Alpha “dog” in our house.  Better luck next time Dexter.

About Shoes

I am an elementary school teacher, a former microbiologist, a mom to a herd of two boys, and a grilled cheese sandwich and beer connoisseur.
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14 Responses to The Opportunity for Alpha

  1. Poor Dexter! He would love Grace, our new adopted stray. What is a home full of boys without a dog?! 😀

    • shoes says:

      Strays are the best! Dexter is such a love and so sweet although no one would say he is the brightest bulb in the box. We love our D-Dog and for now he will be the only dog of the house (even though Delilah Cat is walking all over him.)

  2. Pam Cameron says:

    Thank you for giving Dexter a home! His future could have turned out so differently if he was left with the trashy neighbors. Your story is funny! Some of us just don’t have it in us to be an alpha dog 🙂

    • shoes says:

      Dexter is such a sweet and loving boy. I sometimes wonder about his siblings.
      Your comment about how some of us just don’t have it in us to be an alpha dog made me laugh! There is no way Dexter could be (or even want to be) an alpha dog. I just hope he doesn’t mind being bossed around by a cat! 🙂
      Thanks for your comment.

  3. mimijk says:

    Dexter is a wonderful boy – he is an alpha at being a beta!! And I’m so glad he has your loving family to embrace his beta-ness and wonderfulness…what a great post!

  4. Jodi Stone says:

    Just as it will take you all time to adjust to life without Rosy, it may take Dexter some time too. I’ve come to find out that anything named Delilah is trouble…:-) I bet that after an adjustment period they come up with something they are comfortable with.

    Dexter’s story is wonderful, even though I know it, most times I can’t believe the way people abuse, neglect and then throw away animals. Thank god for people like you and your husband.

    • shoes says:

      Delilah has really jumped at the chance to be Alpha. She is scratching couches, sleeping in places she usually did not sleep in, and trying to get into kitchen cabinets (lucky for us we still have child locks in place.) These are things she never did when Rosy was alive.

      Dexter is such a sweet boy. I don’t understand people who can harm a living being, it makes me so sad and mad all at once.

  5. awww poor Dexter 🙂 We currently are not only blending our family of kids but cats as well 2 mine 3 his…yeah it’s interesting especially with one female from each who have been the “alpha dog” before now.

    • shoes says:

      Now that is going to be tough! When Husband and I started living together he had one dog and two cats while I had one pissy, particular male cat who was used to being an only pet. There was a long adjustment period. In the end all the animals pretty much ignored one another. 🙂

      • Oh yes and I forgot to mention the neighbor’s cat who is trying to adopt as well and tries to get into the house every chance she gets. She’s Kenna’s BFF’s cat so when her BFF goes to her mom’s for the weekend Pumpkin comes to us!

  6. Hetterbell says:

    I think in time Dexter will find his way. Great song, by the way! 😀

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