A pack is a very delicate organism. One small change in the family can change the entire balance.
When I began my social networking life the pack of 12, Chappy and Whiskey was the strongest unit l I knew. Then 12 went to the Bridge, followed by Chappy, and now the pack is Whiskey, Blue, and Jasper. That organism is not thriving as it once was.
My pack has not suffered from these issues. I went to the Bridge and passed pack leader to Pocket. River Song came to live with us. Pocket said, “I am the pack leader.” River said, “The hell you are!” and Pocket was back to being number two. But she was all right with being second. She has been her whole life.
The problems with Whiskey’s pack began when Blue’s herding instinct took effect, and he insisted on corralling Jasper and Whiskey, who had no desire to cooperate. Whiskey became frustrated and stopped eating unless he was alone in a room with his mom. Blue continued to try to herd the pack which started fights. Jasper began marking in the house.
Things came to a head when Whiskey started biting, Blue, which led to stitches. Blue was separated from the pack when their parents weren’t home. Their mom was crying about their broken family. But she and her husband are the real pack leaders in their family, and they took steps to bring balance back to their family.
They hired a dog behaviorist who told their parents that pack problems were common in multi-dog households. She believed that working together the pack could be a working organism again. Rule number one was to keep Blue and Whiskey apart for two months. All three dogs would get individual training sessions multiple times a day. There were personal problems to overcome: Whiskey’s barking, Blue’s herding, and Jasper’s selective listening.
Each dog learned at their own pace. Whiskey and Jasper took to the training easily but Blue, a herding dog, was used to being the boss and has been resistant to change.
It has been a long process, and it is ongoing, but the behaviorist is very impressed with the pack’s progression. She told the pack’s parents that she didn’t think that Blue and Whiskey could be alone together, but would be an excellent pair while supervised. Blue and Whiskey, on their own, have become oil and water.
The pack is moving in the right direction. They may not always be peaceful, but they will be a family again. Their parents will make sure of that through their dedication to training.
While this blog recognizes Whiskey, Blue, and Jasper as pups of the week, it should recognize their parents for their ceaseless devotion to keeping their pack together.