Nika from Fancy & Randy’s 2011 litter boarded with us this past week. Like the other siblings that I’ve posted pictures of, she is a model Mini Aussie and could walk right into the show ring and turn heads.
This litter at 9 months has a range of sizes which is typical of the breed. Remember, these dogs have been bred down from the full-size model so genetics come into play with weight and height, just like it does with humans. I can predict adult size at 8 weeks old, but absolutely no guarantees.Technically, Mini Aussies (Mini American Shepherds) are 13-18″ at the withers. If smaller, they show as a Toy Aussie and if taller, a Standard.
When Nika came in with her family, she was greeted by Rosie and Swagger, the two young ones. As is always the case when dogs greet, there was lots of sniffing and head turning, but because all three were puppies, it didn’t take long for them to determine there was no threat. At that age status doesn’t factor as highly and playtime is the preference.
Nika’s owners asked if Fancy would remember her puppy so I brought her downstairs to visit. It was obvious that even if she remembered, rank was more important to her as an adult dog. Nika, coming from an only dog home, hadn’t mastered the “don’t stare” rule of dog language so Fancy raised her lip at her to let her know that her forwardness wasn’t appropriate. Fancy also mounted her as an indication that she was higher status, at least at this point in their “conversation”. Did she remember? Hard to tell, but definitely if she did, it was not important. Nature’s way.
As the day passed, I introduced her to the other dogs in the pack one at a time. Ike saw no challenge to his leadership from a young female, so after some sniffing and asking Nika in his way to show submission, that was that. Izzy, the dominant female, is typically welcome to other young dogs as was the case again this time. Nika got with the program and rolled on her back and offered her belly to Izzy to indicate that she was no threat to the pack order.
Once everyone had been introduced individually, it was time to let her be with the whole pack. No problems and Nika now better understands how to merge into a group of dogs peacefully.
As the week progressed, the dynamics of the six dogs was interesting to watch and my husband and I observed very clearly the order of ranking. First of all, sexually immature puppies like Swagger, typically don’t figure much into the mix because they are not big enough to eat at the big table. What did happen, however, is that Fancy, my lowest ranking adult, tried to elevate herself by showing dominance over Nika, not with aggression but with her body language of standing over her. When she took that position, Izzy came in from the fringes (always watching) and would stand on her tiptoes and give Fancy the evil eye. That’s all it would take to let Fancy know…too bad, you are just who are and rank hasn’t changed.
The most interesting event that made it very clear who was number 1 and 2 occurred when Fancy was playing with Nika and we heard a little squeak from Nika. Ike dashed over pronto to check on the situation in his quiet benevolent way to show he’s the “man” in this house and he doesn’t tolerate any rowdiness between his underlings. Almost at the same time, Izzy came over and did her stance just in case. You can’t help but smile at how they keep peace. World order would be less destructive if humans would acquiesce as easily.
It was nice to see how one of my puppies has developed and reminded me once again that the ones coming from my lines are turning into very nice dogs, both in looks and personality.