its a dogs life

pancho stairtop vigil

Our dog, Pancho, has been staying with friends for 3 weeks, while all of us have been off galavanting in other countries. Last night I picked him up and brought him home. He was clearly very happy with our friends, and today seems a little disconsolate. He is home alone with me. The children dont get home for another 2 days.

So what is going on in his doggy brain? His recent hosts probably lavished far more care and attention on him than he is used to with us. My teenage darlings are very affectionate when he has their attention,, but that is tough to maintain. Like most of their peers, they have a great deal of things on their minds to digest and resolve, and the unconditional love of a dog is only one of them. As for me, well I’m just a grumpy old git.

I dont suppose he is thinking along these lines. Apparently¬†man’s best friend, as a species, is closest to the wolf. So he comes endowed with a pack mentality. My guess is the balance of power in his holiday home was a little different than it is here. As happy as he seemed when I went to pick him up, it was also clear he had easily re-established his alpha male position, and was fully in charge.

Pancho having had a troubled childhood, we tried a number of different techniques to help him adjust to our notions of an acceptable lifestyle. One of these, The Dog Listener, explains domestic dogs’ wolf heritage, and encourages a routine of consistent, calm behaviour, designed to have the dog relinquish its dominant alpha role, relax, and let the stupid humans make the decisions. What then remains is the full time job of goofing off and being a fun loving dog!

We have had limited success with this. Calm and consistent doesnt come naturally to us. Inconsistent and volatile describes us better. However we did go some way to at least questioning Pancho’s authority. Its difficult to say who is in charge in our house. It seems the hat gets passed around, in a random way, and all of us have our moments, including Pancho. Is that democracy?

I am not in any way blaming our kind friends. On the contrary, I am very grateful for their warm hearted and affectionate care of our¬†four-legged pal. He will adjust and move forward, I’m sure.

In the two weeks I was away, the small gaggle of weeds I neglected to uproot in our back yard are now three feet high. From Pancho’s perspective, this transforms our desolate little yard into an adventure playground. Our friends garden, from where he just returned, is similarly overgrown. So although I need to pull them all out, in preparation for scattering grass seed, I am going to wait a few days.

Who’s the boss? Woof, woof….

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