It seems like nobody gets along these days.
While we've all been watching events in the Persian Gulf, I've also been dealing with conflict on a decidedly smaller scale, trying to keep younger dog Andy from fighting with our most recent house guest, a 70-pound Doberman named Cooper.
You'd think a 30-pound dog would have more sense than to jump a Doberman, but when it comes to fighting, common sense doesn't seem to matter much, no matter what the species.
Cooper's my recent project, an SPCA dog bailed out to be a companion for a friend's older male golden retriever. Trouble is, Cooper, although neutered, won't tolerate another male dog, although he's truly keen on female dogs and a veritable marshmallow around people of both sexes and all ages.
He's also smart, quiet, eager to please and thoroughly non-destructive, which is why I undertook to place him for my friend, instead of sending him back to the SPCA.
I'm helping him, in short, because he's a fabulous dog, although certainly not in Andy's eyes.
They had their first -- and last -- fight a few days ago, while Cooper was still trying to get the hang of his new surroundings.
It caught me by surprise. Andy has seen so many dogs in his lifetime that I never worry about him getting along, and Toni makes her feelings clear to any new dog by showing off a full set of teeth at every opportunity.
After a couple days of careful observation, I let Cooper in to mingle with my dogs, and things seemed to be going along just the way I figured they would: Andy ignored him, Toni threatened him, and Cooper just kept to himself.
And then the Dobie showed an interest in what Andy loves best, his green latex squeaky frog.
Retaliation was swift and violent.
Before I could react, I saw a gray streak hurl itself toward the Doberman, and after a moment's hesitation, the Dobie fought back.
By the time I got them apart, Andy was definitely going down to defeat, in danger of grave, if not mortal, injury. But my timing was such that he'd lost nothing more than what seemed like a roomful of hair. As I banished Cooper to the yard, Andy recovered enough to throw himself at the door, snarling and carrying on as I divided the combatants forever.
Andy's post-fight posturing was normal, but no less amusing. He strutted around the house for the rest of the evening, every muscle tense, every nerve alive. He demanded, time and time again, to be let into the yard to finish off his enemy as the Dobie, as people-oriented a dog as I've ever met, shivered in cold, lonely misery on the other side.
Cooper hadn't started it, but he would have finished it, no matter what young Andy believed.
The days since have been inconvenient, to say the least. The Dobie's going to a carefully screened new home this morning, and this afternoon I'll swear for the umpteenth time I won't get involved in another such project.
But I'll do it again -- I know that in my heart. That's because that heart is where the memory of earlier dogs, all in good homes now, lives forever. Thinking of them, of Magic and Kippy, of Markie and all the others, and now Cooper, makes the inconvenience and expense worthwhile.
I just hope Andy gets along better with the next one. I've had just about all the fighting I can stand.
Ms. Spadafori is a newspaper reporter and an animal obedience trainer in Sacramento, Calif. Questions about pets may be sent to her c/o Pets Saturday, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.