THE following account is about Gabby, a six-month-old female Africanis, and Sugar, a 10-week-old female boxer. It all began when Sugar ran over to Gabby and jumped on her without warning. Still sitting and waiting for the start of the first round, Gabby was surprised with a flurry of left and right-paw jabs. Even though having a substantial weight advantage, the older pup could only roll on to her back, counter-pawing in an attempt to defend against this relentless onslaught. While sitting on Gabby’s tummy, Sugar continued to pummel her hapless victim. Now to those in the know, an Africanis is not called that by accident. Gabby was a survivor, and drawing on her street-fighting skills, she feinted with a roll to the left. Sugar tried to match this move, but was surprised by a lightning shift to the right, thereby allowing Gabby to stand up. Sugar, however, was not just a boxer, but had also learnt some judo during her litter days. Although the older pup was twice her size, she jumped up and tried to grab Gabby in a head-lock. The Africanis saw it coming, and by ducking and weaving, she got out of trouble. Using a combination of lefts and rights, the fiery little challenger attempted to manoeuvre her opponent into a corner for the knockout paw-nch. Again, drawing on her experience, Gabby managed to remain standing until the bell sounded, signalling the end of the round. Etiquette, tact and diplomacy were not big on the Africanis’s list of priorities. To her, Queensbury rules were meant for corgis, and rather believing in tit for tat, Gabby waited for the right moment. While the boxer was catching her breath, the older pup pounced, catching Sugar off guard. Not called “She Devil” for nothing though, the younger pup whipped around with a left hook and right uppercut. Unfortunately, due to Gabby’s speed and height advantage, these offensive tactics were rendered ineffectual and a flurry of blows, accompanied by loud growls, sent Sugar to the canvas again. However, instead of pressing home her advantage, Gabby grew overconfident, thus allowing Sugar to jump up and escape. A chase ensued around the ring until Gabby managed to grab Sugar’s back left leg. Even though use of teeth is frowned upon by the Kennel Union, it was allowed, as long as gum guards remained in place. Sugar lost her balance, ending up with paws in the air. The ref started counting and, believing the bout was over, Gabby waited with anticipation in her corner for the prize, a large, mouth-drooling piece of juicy raw rump. This was a big mis-teak. Seeing her opponent’s momentary distraction, Sugar jumped to her feet and put the Africanis in a vicious headlock with both front paws. She then tried to knee her in the stomach. Caught unawares a second time, the older fighter struggled to fend off her wily attacker. Seeing the Africanis’s exposed throat, Sugar went for the jugular and placed her jaws firmly around this very vulnerable part of Gabby’s anatomy. Just when it seemed that the tables had been turned, the older pup gave a loud growl accompanied with a snap of teeth and forced her antagonist to beat a hasty retreat. Believing that discretion was the better part of valour, a weary Sugar threw in the towel, and thereby acknowledged Gabby as pack champion. • Steve van Staden is a canine behaviour specialist and can be contacted via his website, www.dogtor steve.co.za Advice is only dispensed in face-to-face meetings with owners and their pets.