Close this search box.



Instead of children I’ve always had dogs, sometimes three at a time. They’re my family. Annie and Lulu were eight weeks old when I adopted them from the animal shelter almost two years ago. From the beginning the “experts” told me someday I’d have to make a choice and give one of my darling girls away, but I didn’t believe them. “Litter Mate Syndrome,” they called it. I’d never heard of litter mate syndrome and never had problems with any of my dogs. What do the experts know anyway? 

In this case… Everything!

Eight weeks old. The day I brought them home. Annie on the left, and Lulu on the right. The animal shelter spays/neuters dogs before they’re released, so that’s why they’re wearing collars. They were helping me clip the bushes.

From the beginning two dog trainers, who are well thought of, told me how difficult it can be for some litter mates—usually two females—to bond with anyone but one another, plus they exponentially feed off of one another’s energy, making them harder to train. It’s also difficult to get them to simmer down, and nonstop play often turns into fighting which gets worse as they get older.

They did everything together. When they stole my plastic watering can, they did it together, with the spout in both of their mouths. So cute!

Wanting to prove the experts wrong, I did everything they suggested, trying to avoid having to break them up… our family up.

When they were a few months old I took each of them, separately, to day care—Annie on Monday and Wednesday and Lulu on Tuesday and Thursday—so they wouldn’t be so codependent on one another and they’d learn to socialize with other dogs. In 2017, when I was in Italy, the girls went to finishing school for three weeks for training. Since then I’ve walked them and reinforced their training, plus they’ve had a nanny who walked them twice a week.

They were the most loved little girls in the world. I gave them boundaries and tried to give the same amount of attention to each girl, but Lulu, the runt of the litter, had jealousy issues from the minute she was born. Because they started out as seven pups, living on the streets with their mother, I’m guessing Lulu had to fight to get what food they found or a turn at her mother’s teat just to survive, and she never got enough attention. After I adopted them, mealtimes became dangerous, with Lulu attacking Annie for her food, so I separated them when they ate. I tried as hard as I could, but the experts tell me the odds were against me from the start. I feel like I failed them in some way, and my guilt ran deep for awhile.

Preparing to take the girls for a walk.

Before Thanksgiving they got into a fight, and I thought they would kill one another. I was powerless to stop it. They were like two, crazed WWE opponents except they had claws and sharp fangs and were slinging blood all over my kitchen. Annie’s ear was shredded and Lulu received a two-inch cut across the top of her eye and a torn muscle. Both had stitches plus Lulu had a drain and wore an Elizabethan collar for a month while she healed and I kept them apart. 

But when the collars came off… The fighting started, again. 

One night I leaned down to pet Annie, and then to pet Lulu. I knew Lulu was jealous, so I tried to give both girls the same amount of attention, but this time, Lulu raised up and attacked me, hitting me hard in the face with her strong front legs. My glasses flew across the room; I got a nasty cut across the bridge of my nose, and for a minute, I was dazed and staggered backwards. I was bleeding and thought Lulu had broken my nose.

Immediately I took them to their finishing school trainer who kept them and worked with them for a week. At the same time I counseled with my vet and the nanny, who both know their history. In the end, they all concurred. I must find a new home for one of them, but how would I choose? I loved them both. My vet even made me promise not to bring them both back into my home. It was that serious.

It was an anguishing, difficult decision, but I chose to keep Annie and to find another home for Lulu. But my biggest fear was if it wasn’t the right home, Lulu would wind up on the streets or be euthanized at a shelter.

I’ve cried until I’ve run out of tears. Annie’s been depressed, and her stools are soft from the stress of missing her sister. The only saving grace is I found Lulu a great home with people who are experts on dogs. People who know and love her, and she has four other dogs to play with, and she’s not fighting with any of them.

Her new family sends me photos and videos. At first it was painful, but now I’m relieved and happy for Lulu.

And just as everyone predicted, the litter mate syndrome was broken and both girls are “blossoming on their own.”

I’m so grateful, and if I’m to be honest, I’m relieved. There’s no more tension in the house, and Annie and I are moving on. Thank you, God!

Share this Story

Hi Girlfriends,

I’m proud to say that 1010ParkPlace™ has been voted one of the Top Ten Blogs for women over 50: the best-educated, wealthiest, most powerful demographic in history.

Here you will get a glimpse into the lives of other women, learn how they handled things life put in their path like divorce, the death of a spouse, serious health issues, low self-esteem, addiction and how to reinvent yourself after a major life change. You will find like-minded women and relevant conversations about finances, fashion, sex, books, music, films and food. We feature interviews with inspiring women along with straight-talk and bold conversations to reawaken your passions and make life count.

Brenda’s Blog has between a 58.4% and a 68.7% click thru rate, which is unheard of. My readers tell me it’s because I’m sassy and transparent, they trust me and no topic is off limits.

Tell your girlfriends, sisters and coworkers about 1010ParkPlace. We have lots of exciting interviews planned and stay tuned for updates about my memoir! 

#WhereStyleIsAgeless   #MakeLifeCount   #WhatAreYouWaitingFor

45 thoughts on “NOW IT’S JUST ME AND ANNIE”

  1. Wow, how agonizing! You’re not alone- my sister had littermate Springers that had many of the same problems, but not that severe. You sure tried everything, and it’s good to know they’re both blossoming. I enjoy your posts immensely- thank you!

    • Hi Mary Katherine, While I’m sorry to hear your sister had the same problem, but not as severe, on the other hand it helps knowing I’m not the only one. I’m happy you like my posts because I enjoy writing them and hearing from great women like you! I’m grateful to you for reading and sharing with me, Brenda

  2. Brenda,

    I had never heard of the litter mate syndrome.
    I know how hard it was to make the decision to separate them but it was the right thing to do.
    I was wondering why I only saw Annie watching the Amazon Super Bowl commercial.


  3. I have never heard of this before but I can certainly understand why you had no choice for all concerned. Rest easy as it sounds like everybody won, they both have good homes and will have wonderful lives. Can’t tell you how many times I have learned something from your posts, thanks for sharing.

    • Deborah, Thanks for letting me know I sometimes offer good info. I appreciate that. I made the only decision I could, and I’m thankful I had support and someone who loved Lulu enough to adopt her. Sometimes I wonder if she misses Annie or me. One guy told me “No. Lulu only sees you as a resource.” I don’t believe that. Look at the strong bond between dogs that have been lost and then reunited or people who’ve been away in the Army and how overjoyed the dogs are that they or their person is home. xox, Brenda

  4. My, what you’ve been through!! I’m sorry it came to this, but it seems like everyone’s angels were On Duty and you’ll all live happily ever after. So glad for you all!
    XO Donna

  5. I know how you feel, I had litter mates and had to give one away after he attacked me. Almost identical story…my heart goes out to you, but you did the right thing. ❤️❤️❤️

    • Oh, Donna! I’m sorry you experienced this as well. Even though I knew Lulu was jealous ABOUT EVERYTHING, when she attacked me… and that’s the correct word… I couldn’t bring myself to use that in my blog post… my heart was hurt that she would do that to me. For her it was a primal, survival act, but for me, my baby Lulu did this terrible thing to me. If I hadn’t been wearing my glasses, she could have put my eye out. It was three seconds of viciousness like I’ve never experienced. Thank you for reconfirming I did the right thing. xoxox, Brenda

  6. That is SO sad! I’d never heard of this either but having read this I’ll never dismiss it if anyone talks about it.

    I’m so glad you were able to find a good home for Lulu. 🙁

    • Thank you, Bonnie. The thought of not knowing who would adopt Lulu… if she would be adopted… how she would be treated when she left my home was the scariest part. I checked with several “lab rescue” places who told me they didn’t take “black” labs. Most wind up being euthanized because people want golden labs… No one wants black labs. That struck fear in my heart. Brenda

  7. Wow. I’ve frequently had multiple dogs but never litter mates until 5 years ago. I took in two border collies from a litter despite all warnings. They are very different personalities (one is an agility dog, the other prefers obedience while my older dog is all about barn hunt and herding) but have always gotten along very well. I had been warned about not being able to handle the training and attention demands, but never heard of this syndrome. Your dogs were both adorable and if I had read this 5 years ago, I would have been terrified. I cannot imagine the pain this must have caused you! Thank goodness you were able to find a good home.

    • Vicki, I’m happy all worked out well for you and your dogs. I really believe the adoption shelter and/or the foster family who had custody of Annie and Lulu should have told me about “litter mate syndrome” and discouraged me from adopting them both, but no one said a word. Eight puppies were a lot for that family to handle, and I imagine they were glad to check two more off their list. It also pains me because the thing that drew me to Lulu was here desperate struggle to climb out of a little plastic, kiddie wading pool and get to me before I left. Her strong will to survive. I have that characteristic as well. When I first met the girls, they were only six weeks old but I could see that look in Lulu’s eyes that said, “Hey, Lady!! I’m here, too! Wait! Don’t go!” I’d already said yes to Annie… had only planned to adopt one dog, but when she finally made it out of the pool and ran to me… How could I say no to her? This has been one of the saddest experiences I’ve had… I like kids, but I’m not one of those people who coo and want to cuddle with a baby. Dogs? That’s a different story. I respond to dogs like most women respond to babies. xox, Brenda

  8. This is an interesting article about litter mates. So happy your story has a happy ending and both dogs are happy. Our Chihuahuas are litter mates and are joined at the hip. Occasionally one will growl over food but rarely.

    • Hi Donna, A little growling or fighting isn’t unusual. It’s great your Chihuahuas love each other. I have a couple of different friends who adopted Chihuahua litter mates and life is good for all of them. Thanks for reading and commenting, Brenda

  9. I am one of the supreme dog lovers on the planet, so I understand your very difficult decision. Every dog has a different disposition and I do believe a very difficult beginning made the little one a fighter. I’ve never heard of litter mate syndrome either, and we’ve had brothers (Collies) and sisters (Labs) with no problem. But thinking back now I realize one of them would always be the leader, the other a follower. My Maltese HATES every other dog on sight, but once he understands he’s still THE ONE he is friendly. Great post and IG!!!! ❤️

    • Hi Marsha, I, too, am a SUPREME DOG LOVER!! I never wanted kids, but can’t live without dogs. Don’t you think a leader or an alpha dog always emerges? That’s generally problematic. Just the way it is with pack animals like dogs. Thanks so very much for your comment, and I’m glad you like my blog and IG page. xoxox, Brenda

  10. Well, I’ve learned something today. My husband and I have only had one dog at a time but we discussed getting two the next time, so they can entertain each other. My husband didn’t agree, and now reading this, I won’t push.
    I’m sorry you had to go through the anguish of giving one away. You found Lulu a good home though, so you can rest easy. Enjoy your time with Annie. Two big dogs were a challenge for you. I think life with one will be simpler and calmer.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I think we all learned something today.

    • Hi Joanna, Getting another dog is always a big decision. I’ve always had at least two, sometimes three big dogs. They’ve all found me at different times, and there wasn’t any competition or fighting at all. I’d love to have another dog. They’re pack animals, so I know Annie would love to have a friend. Lulu now has lots of other dogs to play with and other than the “alpha dog,” who doesn’t like any of the dogs–they steer clear of him–they all get along great. Trying to raise two, high energy, big dogs has been more than challenging! The first year I got very little done because they needed constant supervision, and I had all of the dirt, grass, plants removed in my back yard so they wouldn’t find 30 years of things from the previous owners to swallow and we wouldn’t windup in the ER, again. It was exhausting, but I adored them! Brenda

    • Jo, I don’t think “litter mate syndrome” is something any of us hear too much about… and not all litter mates react this way. Two males are more likely to get along than two females. I would have guessed it would have been the other way around. xoxox, Brenda

  11. Wow… my heart aches for you Brenda. Like everyone else I had never heard of this either. Thank you for sharing and caring so much for your babies!!

  12. Awww, Brenda…I’m so sorry it didn’t work out with both of the girls. I would’ve thought that being littermates would have made them get along better. (But what do I know? It didn’t work that way for me and my middle brother!). I think you made the decision you had to, in the end. And it sounds like things are well. Blessings to you!

  13. Brenda, my heart goes out to you for what you endured. I don’t know of many people who would have gone to the lengths you did to make the situation work. You showed true compassion and So much patience and still had to make a hard choice – yet it was the right one! Couldn’t have worked out better! There were Angels at work here……God Bless You!

    • I’m smiling, big, here, Carol. Yes, I think there were Angels at work and a lot of love. I know the girls loved one another… and me, but it’s been heartbreaking. xoxo, Brenda

  14. Brenda, how heart=wrenching this all has been for you. I’m so sorry you had to go through such anguish. But it is wonderful to know that Lulu is doing well and not fighting with her new family of dogs. She is a beautiful dog . Do you think you might get another non-litter sibling for Annie? Or do you think the two of you are all she needs? I wonder how she does when you have to leave her alone. But maybe with her playgroup she isn’t alone that much.

    This has been a very informative post, Brenda, and I thank you for sharing your experience with us. I am a dogless dog person right now and I don’t know if I will be able to have a dog again. I had no idea that this sibling issue could be as serious as what you’ve experienced and I’m glad for the education.

    I wish you and Annie a future of love and fun and health as you remain a family together.

    • What a lovely comment, Naomi! And so perceptive about “do I get another dog for Annie?” That question is never far from my mind. Right now we’re still adjusting, so we’re good. I walk Annie three or four times a week and her nanny comes twice a week to walk her as well, sometimes with other dogs in tow. She isn’t going to a playgroup anymore, so I would think she’d like a friend. I got her a pink, stuffed elephant, her first real toy because Lulu would take them and eat them, so I couldn’t give them toys… dangerous for Lulu… but I think it’s interesting now that they’re separated, both girls have stuffed toys and love them. Lulu no long has that urge to eat them. Poor Lulu! It must have been anguishing for her to fight to have all the food, all the attention and all the toys. xoxo, Brenda

  15. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through this, and deal with the heartache. I’m sure it has been very difficult. I’m grateful the Lord led you in a way that will be a blessing for all of you! And I’m thankful you and both girls are safe.

    • Thank you, sweet Beckye! I’m grateful as well, and I realize just how hard it was on both girls, especially Lulu…. Everything was never enough, but it is now that she’s not around Annie, and Annie’s having fun in different ways she never could before. xoxox, Brenda

  16. I have never heard of this before! I’ve had dogs for 40 years, but never more than one at a time. You certainly did everything you could so please don’t beat yourself up. I can however feel your heartache through your words
    Take care

    • Thanks, Jeannette! I’ve had dogs for 40 years as well. All strays who found me. Never more than three at a time, and they all got along, even with my sweet cat, Blanche Dubois. I appreciate your reassurance. It does help, because I felt like I failed Lulu, but now I know I couldn’t have done anything differently. xoxox, Brenda

  17. Hi Dear Brenda
    My girlfriend and her husband chose fur babies instead of human ones too. They had Jack Russell sisters. One day my friend came home to find one of them bleeding badly from a neck wound. The rivalry got worse as they got older. In the end they had to tether them up to opposite sides of the living room couches or put one outside if they were going out. It caused a lot of pain and distress as my friend had no idea why her darling babies were doing this to each other. They had to stop them sleeping on the bed, and all the freedoms they used to enjoy. The dog trainer reminded my friend that these are actually animals, not humans, no matter how domesticated and intelligent they have become. I have a single little Maltese x Shitzu, a rescue baby, and she just can’t tolerate other dogs. We think she was bullied by the other dogs in the home that she came from. As much as we would love to adopt another fur baby (as our humans are all grown up), we will honour our wee Malshi and let her be the dog she is by herself. We just came home from holidays yesterday, and apparently she fretted so badly while we were away, my daughter-in-law had to hand feed her to get her to eat. I don’t think I want to go away again and cause so much grief. I missed her badly every day, as apparently she did me.

    I agree with everyone on here who has said that you have done the right thing and that you and Annie will have a loving peaceful and quiet home, with less stress for both of you now.

    Blessings Xxxxx

    • TJ, Thank you for sharing this story. Once, again, all of you have comforted me, and made me feel better about my decision, and I thank you. It’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the fact they’re dogs. I had a Shepherd Collie mix who was scary smart and understood English. He wowed EVERYONE he met. When James first met Phydaux, James looked him in the eye and said, “I don’t know what you are, but you’re not a dog.” I can’t believe I’m going to admit to this, but when Phydaux would scratch excessively or lick himself… It was such a “dog thing” to do, I was forced to acknowledge… He was a dog which made me feel stupid, embarrassed and sad, all at the same time. It’s a brave thing to adopt a dog, even if you get them when they’re puppies. We think if we adopt an 8 week old puppy, they won’t be “screwed up” and we can help them become great dogs, but as in Lulu’s case, her first six weeks were so difficult and traumatic for her that it shaped who she was around her litter mates. Thank you, again, sweet friend. xoxox, Brenda

  18. Oh my heart breaks, what a hard choice indeed. I never heard of it but I never adopted 2 litter mates either. You were so thorough and did everything possible. So glad to hear a happy ending for everyone!

  19. Oh Brenda, my dear friend….what a horrendous situation to be in as much as you love those two girls. I, like so many of the other commenters, have never heard of that syndrome but as painful as it’s been for you to go through, it is such a wealth of information for the rest of us. I am so very, very sorry it eventually came to this and how frightened you must have been when you were attacked but please know in your heart of hearts you did what was best for not only Lulu but for you and Annie was well. It could not have continued and now they both have loving homes and a peaceful living environment. My heart aches for the grief you are dealing with but you will accept the decision knowing it has made the best of a very bad situation. My love and hugs……

    • Laureen, Thank you, dear friend. Since the day I brought them home, this has been a rollercoaster ride. The first year I got nothing done except watching them, making sure they didn’t find anything harmful to chew on and swallow–TWO 8 week old puppies!!!–collecting nine garbage bags full of wire, nuts and screws, tin snips from the yard of the home I bought and finally… removing four inches of my entire yard and living with mud when it rained or I water the bushes. It’s been overwhelming at times, but now, for the first time, things are on an even keel. Lulu’s new family adores her; Annie’s no longer afraid of Lulu and is relaxing and having fun, and I haven’t felt depressed. I now know it was the Annie and Lulu situation that was getting me. All is well now. xoxox, Brenda

  20. I have NEVER HEARD that before………….GOOD TO KNOW!
    I’m so SORRY for YOU………..I have to say from your previous dog posts I always thought they were TOO MUCH for YOU!I was fearful for your well being meaning if they knocked you down it might be a DISASTER!!HAPPY NO BROKEN HIP or BROKEN legged occurred…….
    YOU did YOUR BEST and I would have DONE THE SAME!!!

  21. Elizabeth, They were always too much for me, but then I don’t quit. O so wanted it to work, but the forces between them was more powerful than I was. xoxox, Brenda

  22. Dear Brenda,
    Your story broke my heart…but I am glad it worked out and the new family sends pics. I also have never heard of that. When I was little my parents bred our poodle twice. I just remember it as the time Gigi had puppies and pairs of litter mates went off to a couple of families. Then my father passed away and Gigi ran out in the street one day a few years later and was hit by a car. All dogs after that were rescues and solo dogs in our home growing up.

    I always wanted to have more than one dog and even recently my son rescued a dog for me 6 months after we had to say goodbye to our almost 16 year old lab/chow/shep mix. Losing her was devastating because she was the dog my late husband and I got together for our family and she was just ad much a part of our family and one of my kids as my other 3 (humans) are. My hope is to rescue another dog to keep our new babe company because now that 2 of my 3 children have left the nest I feel our little (55 lb.) bear is a lonely girl at times and so I’m trying to figure out what personality type dog we will need to rescue so that there wouldn’t be those jealousy issues that come with the (albeit litter mate) syndrome. I worry that there could be similar type issues with non-related rescues. I will have to do more research and hope it all works out. Thank you for sharing your story.

Comments are closed.


Sign up to our list and we’ll send you our sought-after guide “50 Ways To Change Your Life”
I'm happy you've joined us! If you like what you read, I'd love for you to stay and subscribe to our updates by email. We have a great community of like-minded women, and your presence can only make it stronger.