HE SAID: I hope this new year brings more peace and quiet to our home. Your big, old, lovable dog died just before Thanksgiving. Augie was your pal and our "pup," Ziva is mine. I knew we had to get another dog for you because dog people are just that way. But I didn't know whether it was going to be sooner or later. When you wanted to go "just look" at the dog pound, I knew it was the beginning. Then, at the adoption fair, a very calm, quiet, 1-year-old female seemed to meet all our criteria. However, our criteria was missing a few important details: • Don't have two female dogs in the same house;• Don't get one that looks like the existing pup's sworn neighborhood enemy;• And don't assume things will work out because we provide love and a nice home.We didn't understand how fierce the turf battles would be and that a fight between female dogs doesn't end simply. So, off to the vet for both of them to examine wounds and shell out money for pheromone collars and "calming" drops. Those measures appear sufficient to bring about harmony and bite-free play.SHE SAID: I have to admit I was also putting the "calming drops" recommended for them in my water, too. Waiting for the next battle puts one on edge, especially when you're not quite sure what might trigger the fight. I miss Augie who was so accepting of all other animals, including Ziva, the dog you picked four year ago. He let her boss him around and never once chomped down on her when they were playing. He was twice her size and could have done serious damage. He even learned to lob sticks into the water for Ziva to chase. The new dog, Pepper, is very wary of men. You're going to have to cultivate your "inside voice" to get her to come to you. Ziva and Pepper are getting along now, but I'm afraid your hope for peace and quiet may not come to pass. The two tear around the house and yard chasing and wrestling with each other. Pepper has shown a fondness for carrying off any socks, slippers, and other things she finds interesting on the floor. It is making us pick up better. You realize they are ganging up on us now, especially when they think we are going somewhere. Both of them are shepherd mixes and there is nothing like "the stare" times two when it is aimed at you beseechingly demanding to go along. HE SAID: I wish we could apply some of the tactics we used with the dogs on contentious groups like Congress. They seem as viciously territorial as the two animals. I guess what we are seeing is the regression to a natural state for humans in politics. Wouldn't it be interesting to try putting stress relieving drops in the water at the state and national capital buildings as well as providing pheromone collars for legislators to wear? People are supposed to be more civilized than animals, but often that elevated behavior alludes us. We do have a great ability, though, to create myths to justify our behavior. In politics, myths are created about how no one but the elite are worthy of having or managing money or on the other hand, that the elite are selfish and fiscally irresponsible. Some believe that we just need to pass more restrictive laws to prevent shooting tragedies like those in Aurora and Connecticut while others want to arm everyone in sight. Do you favor gun control, or do you need to buy a gun because there are so many nuts with guns? The more we take extreme stands in religion, political philosophy, or gun control, the more we empower the other side to take extreme positions also. The collars mimic the smell of a mother dog so the dogs think they are part of the same family. What a great reminder that would be for extremists. At least the dogs have the sense to come to some kind of peaceful compromise so they can enjoy their lives together.SHE SAID: You sure wonder what the dogs would advise if they could speak. Want to buy collars to send to our Congressional delegation or send a kindergarten teacher to their chambers to teach them to share and use "inside voices"?The Skinners hope 2013 will be a year of less bites and barks. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.