29 Apr | Posted by Cheryl Wilson | no comments |
This morning as I write this and drink my coffee, I am sitting in the second smallest room in the house. The bathroom is the only place smaller than this room in my house. There are 4 dogs in this 8 x 14-foot room with me. When I get up to refill my coffee, I will stumble over two dogs, one under the desk and the other next to the office chair. All 4 will get up to walk the 6 feet to the coffee pot with me. When I go to fold a load of laundry, one will grumble at me for pulling my feet out from underneath her and all 4 will go with me for 20 feet to the dryer. When I go to use the bathroom, all four would go with me. When I shut the door, they will wait in the hallway outside the door. They will scratch itching spots on various places on their bodies, do dog stretching yoga poses, wag their tails, burp, eat ants, or whatever a dog does while waiting for a human. In my house, this mass movement of hair and legs is lovingly referred to as “the dog parade”.
My brain has no recollection of a day that didn’t involve moving from one place to another without some form of a dog parade. The parades have varied in size and the dogs have changed, but for as long as I can remember, there has always been a dog parade that goes with me everywhere where I go. I am speculating that this has to be an example of the “dogs are pack animals” definition that is a popular term with folks these days. Moving from kitchen to living room, or from garage to mailbox, throughout the day, includes an additional 16 padded paws by my side. For me, it is clear sign that dogs have a desire to live with, and among, a group. It appears that I am the main member of the pack that has the greatest influence on moving the group from one place to another, and that would make me the leader of this group. It provides them peace to have a parent, or a manager, so that they can relax and find comfort in running the daily activities.
Dogs seem to prefer someone that provides stability, so that they may relax in their doggyness. So, in order for humans and dogs to coexist happily, humans must understand that dogs find comfort in having a group, along with a position in the same group. A group that is organized by a good manager can make the dogs feel as good as possible in the organization. When dogs live with humans is often labeled by others as dogs living with their pack and that humans actually become their pack. The term I personally prefer is “family”. We are asking dogs to become a part of our family and to be a part of our human group. There should be a new word for the cohabitation of dogs and humans. Maybe, “fampack” or “packfam”. Anyway, it does seem to me that dogs look up at the human in the family for guidance or leadership. Dogs will joyfully participate in our fampack if we kindly teach them how participation should look like in it. They will happily follow commands and accept the fact that when the human is around: walks happen, rides happen and food appears. Dogs are very happy to be a part of a group, especially when cool stuff happens. Be the fampack manager your dogs believe you should be.
Here is one of my favorite Why We Wag items that explains the entire fampack term in one phrase: Chalkboard Mason Jar