Monday, September 13, 2010

Jasper Over Jax

Change is weird. Not in any bad sense of being weird... it's just weird. Sometime around late 2002/early 2003 I acquired the first of my three current dogs. He was a stray, apparently abandoned, and a lovable lonely little thing. My roommate and I named him Chody (in honor of a character from a Trey Parker/Matt Stone film... shame on you if you know what it means) and adopted him after attempting to find his owner. After my roommate deployed to Iraq, my then-girlfriend decided to guilt-trip me into changing his name to Jax. And, from then on, Jax became my alpha male (albeit in a pack of one).

Fast forward to January of 2004... After being activated myself and realizing how lonely Jax could get, I went ahead and adopted another dog, Jasper. Though both dogs are named after the same soap opera character (don't ask), they are complete opposites of each other in almost every way. Jax is a mutt... part pointer and terrier (either English bull or Boston... hard to tell); Jasper is a pure German Shepherd. Jax is not neutered, the result of misguided sentimentality. Jasper had to be cut because of an undescended testicle (I used the pick of the litter honor on the runt). Jax is aggressive, a fighter, and unflinchingly dominant. Jasper is passive, a soldier, and unflinchingly submissive. Strange, then, to recall that when Jasper was a puppy, Jax would always let Jasper eat first.

One day, that all changed. Long-story short, the little 35-pound dog had the larger 75-pound dog by the balls.

Sometime late in 2009, Jax seriously injured one of his shoulders. Instead of taking it easy and letting it heal properly, however, Jax overcompensated and instead became much more aggressive towards Jasper (a third dog, Starbuck - acquired late 2004/early 2005 - never really acknowledged the canine chain-of-command, kept to himself, and largely avoided any attempts of submission by Jax).

In March of 2010, our little pack returned to the deserts of the West, which placed the dogs in the ridiculous summer heat of Nevada. Largely due to inactivity during the day and being in a garage at night, Jax was given the opportunity to recover from his injury with much-needed rest (anti-inflammatories hadn't even seemed to help much). Staying with my sister, her children were introduced the wonders of having dogs around and - in a moment a bit out of character for her - she adopted her own dog, Wally. A dog that Jasper took the opportunity to establish dominance over.

The result? Having his own underling, Jasper began to challenge Jax. By July 2, with Jax still recovering, Jasper even started challenging Jax at the food bowl. I must admit, the first time I saw it, I thought Jasper might have confused Jax for Wally... but he kept doing it. Finally, I thought, Jasper would no longer be relegated as a chew toy (literally... he bears several scars from Jax's teeth).

But it was not to be.

I left to sign for a rental property in California on July 31, leaving my dogs with my sister. By August 1, according to her, Jax decided to reclaim his undisputed throne as the alpha male, working overtime trying (and succeeding, apparently) to subdue Jasper all over again. And, upon my return to Nevada, Jasper's persistent whines as Jax subtly exerts his influence serve as proof that Jax is still, undeniably, the king of the pack.

Ah, well. It was interesting while it lasted. Jax can sure be a jerk sometimes. I wonder who he gets it from?


  1. haha. i wonder too. My dog doesn't understand any of that chain of command stuff at all. He thinks he's people.

  2. cat is the ruler of the world...

  3. TWO of your dogs are named after GH's Jasper Jax??? That is just pure gold. Wish I had known that earlier, I would have been annoying you for years.

    For about 8 years, we had one dog, a Border Collie/Australian sheepdog mix. He didn't have to deal with pack mentality, he just existed.

    Then we adopted a dachshund/viszla mix puppy from a shelter. There has been no doubt who is boss, the tiny puppy with all the energy just held the reins.

    They get along, for the most part, but it is not a buddy-buddy relationship, by any means. Ah well, my fault for waiting too long, I suppose.

    By the way, didja know Brenda was back? OMG! Tell the dogs!!! hahahahahahahahaha

  4. you know, that was really confusing!

  5. Shame on me, haha! Sorry but Jax just seems like a name that would dominate. When you say Jasper, I think of the long eared, non-harmless hound dog from Fox and the Hound, even though his name was copper. Hmmm maybe names are not just names...

  6. I think it is always interesting to watch events unfold when a new animal if introduced after the current has had time to become accustomed to being the only. We brought in a second kitten, Cosette, 1-1/2 years after Pandora. Outraged, Pandora hissed and growled at all of us, kitten and humans alike. After a couple of weeks, she apparently decided that the kitten was not so bad after all, and accepted her. She continued to hiss and growl at us for another month, though. I'm sure she thought we should have known better.

  7. That was incredibly informative. My children have wanted dogs for years. At one point, my daughter would pick out houses for sale that her dad/my husband could move into so she could get a dog. She also collected sticks for this dog as well. Alas, we're not getting a dog anytime in the near future but now, I kinda wish we were.

  8. Ummm, hmmm. I have no clue what-so-ever where this would come from... Kidding ;).