I didn’t try to exert my influence as an alpha dog on River. I never insisted on going in and out of rooms first or to being fed before River eats. She can do what she wanted. I follow the adage to let stubborn dogs lie.
There have been times when River tried to overstep her boundaries and tells me what to do. This has lead to some scraps between us. She is bigger than me, but thanks to green beans, not as large as she was at the end of last year. She has traded heft for speed. Regardless, I do not back down from her for the ten seconds between her attacking and one of our parents breaking us up. It took years, but River understands she can no longer bully her way into being a leader.
Last week I was sleeping with my back against Daddy’s leg in his chair. River was on mommy’s lap. We heard a squirrel running across the roof. We both jumped down and began barking at the interloper. It ran across the skylight and shoved a small paper through a slight opening. The document fell face up on to the floor. “You’ve been served!” the squirrel squeaked from the roof.
. I saw it had both our name’s on it. I asked River what it was. “It is from my lawyer,” she said. “I am having you impeached,” I asked her from what. “Alpha dog!” she yipped.
“Why?” I asked.
“You are not using the office,” River said.
“An alpha dog should provide leadership, make big decisions, help the pack to prosper, but you aren’t up for the task.”
I considered this. “I just thought we could all live together as equals. There isn’t a lot of decision to make. Mommy runs things. We get our food on time. We get walks. What more do you want?”
River shrugged, as much as a dog can. “I hear that we should be stronger as a pack. We need to have some contingency plans. We have to be saving kibble. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?”
“Alexis,” I answered. “Just ask her.
“We are going to need a strong leader. What will we do if something happens?
"What's gonna happen? Nothing ever happens here. If it does, then Mommy will take care of it. Honestly, this pack leader thing is purely honorary. It’s like being eighth-grade student body President. The people over you don’t listen at all, and the people under you don't care.”
"But what if something happens to Mommy?" River asked.
"Then you go back to Florida, and I join the Yorkshire Terrier Flying Circus, but until that day comes, it is like saying Macbeth in the theater or Pelosi in the White House. Nothing good can come from it.”
River shook her head. “Who put these ideas in your head?” I asked.
River looked down. I thought it was on the floor, but then I realized she was looking towards the porch. “Have you been talking to Ugly Joan?” I asked. She is the cat who lives under our steps. I know River gets up in the middle of the night, and they chat.
“She tells me how she is the leader of her pack and has warned me that you aren’t strong enough to keep us together, which is why I have to put you in a peach.”
That darn cat! I put a paw on her shoulder. “You can’t be listening to her,” I said. “How good a leader can Joan be? She lives outside. She never has human contact, doesn’t have a warm lap to sit on, and eats mice. Is that the life you want?” I looked into her eyes. “The kitty is a foreigner, and we can’t let foreigners interfere with who leads our pack.”
River looked at me kindly. “You are so right, Pocket. I was foolish. I shouldn’t be listening to the kitty, squirrels, turkeys, geese, or anyone else out of the house. I was wrong.”
It was a big thing for River to admit. I thanked her. She picked up the impeach paperwork. I told her I would rip it up.
“That’s okay I’ll get rid of it later.”
I didn’t believe her. She would soon get dissatisfied with something I did and try again.
It’s pack leader harassment, that’s what it is.