White Dog didn't say a word when we returned from brunch in Santa Fe. Everything seemed peaceful and loving. We sat down and spent time greeting each of the White Dog Army. We filled them in on the conversation with Nancy and Dawn; told them about the waiter who saw our P2P pin and asked so many questions that he ended up giving us his email address to add him to our mailing list; and we amazed them with the fact that to get home we had to pass through gusty winds and a heavy rainstorm (it was 65 degrees in Santa Fe compared to our rainless 99).
As we talked we petting and hugged as we usually do. I had Taiko in my arms stroking his ear when I thought I felt a foxtail seed. It is that time of year here, and the weed's spiked feathery seeds are demonically able to get into the ears and nostrils and bury themselves deeply into the furs of dogs. I moved my fingers to work it free and Taiko jerked back, baring his teeth.
"Does it hurt," I asked and moved him closer so I could better see as I worked. It was not a foxtail, but a length of fur crusted with dried blood. I looked more closely and discovered that the inside of Tai's lower left ear was bloodied. "What happened?" I looked to White Dog and gestured for Steve's help.
The signs told a story of big boy disagreement that had gone too far. I held Taiko in a firm head immobilizing embrace while Steve parted fur and attempted to wash the area. Tai was NOT cooperative, snapping and gnashing his teeth. I donned the oven mitt for protection and continued to hold him as I spoke gently. Steve squeezed antibiotic ointment over the bloodiest part and tried to pat it into place. The Tender Heart was wild and nearly out of control. When I released him, he tore from the house.
Next we checked over YoYoMa; he was without damage.
As best we can guess the story: Taiko, who has been out of sorts and having some difficulties with all of the changes n our pack, must have been startled by Yo or felt somehow violated. Since long ago when he first arrived and bit Quinn, YoYoMa has been an amazing example of learning to just walk away from confrontation. He is patient and nearly impossible to provoke. But he will not surrender or be submissive. We think Taiko challenged and kept pushing YoYoMa until our biggest boy felt he needed to establish a boundary. Yo has 11 lbs on Taiko and is bigger and broader in frame; on Yet Another White Dog one can clearly see his common ancestry with Sibes. It probably only took YoYoMa's single response to end the battle.
Tonight we will keep Taiko on close watch and give him special reassurance while restricting his ability to freely mingle. Until I am sure he is calmer it seems the safest bet for all of the WDA. We have given him a Tramadol because the injury clearly hurts and we know it will help him sleep.
In the morning we will call Dr. Julia and take Taiko in to shave the ear and fully assess the damage, and we will have her check to make sure there is not some illness or pain issue that is causing Taiko's unsocialbility. For tonight, everyone is rattled and needy. Deep breaths, soft words, and lavender mists will hopefully help.