Nothing has highlighted the recent loss of many of our pack leadership like the introduction of a new member. Since Pedro’s arrival, we are really finding that we miss the particular roles that Sally and Liam played as our “HR Department” for the newbies. While all the dogs lend to the successful blending of new dogs into the pack, it turns out that Sally and Liam both had fairly critical roles that we may have underestimated.
Of course, we knew that Sally was a very dominant pack member, and Keeper of the Rules. Many of the rules were passed along to Sally from previous Rule Keepers, Trout, and Bizzy (who created the rules and taught them to Trout). But Sally also had some of her own rules that she enforced. The Rule Keeper task hasn’t really been filled by anyone yet, although both Braeburn and Anvik have sort of stepped into the role. They are just not as effective (yet?) as Sally was.
Sally was UNQUESTIONED. She was calm and confident, and just took care of the education of new pack members as to what was tolerated and what was not tolerated. She wasn’t mean, but she was authoritative in a way that no one ever wanted to see if she could back up her role. There were no questions: Sally enforced rules consistently and effectively. She would break up disagreements before I was even aware they were happening. She directed the pack and they respected her entirely, even as a very frail old lady.
In comparison, both Braeburn and Anvik ARE questioned. Their rule-enforcement approach is quite different than Sally’s in that they both know the rules, and know when rules are broken, but are not exactly sure what to do about it. Both Anvik and Braeburn look to US to do the enforcing, so it comes off more of a tattle-tale sort of “Hey! You broke the rule and I am telling mom” type of thing. Anvik has a bit more authority over the situation, and will confront the violator and inform everyone a rule has been broken, but Braeburn is much more of a pesty little brother, sticking his nose in other people’s business. And when you are an annoying little guy sticking your nose in other people’s business, it often gets bit, creating more drama than is needed.
Now, the loss of Liam is interesting because we really didn’t understand how important his role was for the new pack members until now that he is gone. Liam was a dog who got along with pretty much everyone. He was a big, bouncy, goofy lover, and he was really great as a mentor ambassador to pack life. He would gleefully show the new dog around, introducing them to the sticks, rocks, digging spots, and cool shady places, but always in a way that mirrored the other dogs’ level of comfort. If the dog was shy, Liam would coax him out of his shell; if the new dog was boisterous, Liam would have a calming effect. He could be kenneled with anyone, and since he was pretty much raised by Sally from 8 weeks old, he knew and never questioned the rules. He was enthusiastic, happy, and a really positive “buddy” dog.
We thought that maybe Liam’s grandmother, Finny, would be a good ambassador substitute. She has a lot of Liam’s happy enthusiasm. But she also tends to come off as a bit of an over-passionate, ultra-gung-ho, camp counselor on WAAAAY too much coffee, singing camp songs with such over-the-top gusto that it gets a bit creepy and off-putting…. In Finny’s defense, she really did give the job a good stab, she just took it to a level 15 when it should have stayed at a level 7 or 8. “Sing with me! Come on!! SING WITH ME!!!!! SING!!!!!”
Then there is Dreamer, who loves everyone, but is such a fervent love sponge, she just sucks up all the space and energy with her assertive attention-seeking. When she can’t demand human attention, she resorts to head humping whatever dog happens to be nearby. Not exactly the best first impression one wants to give a new pack member.
Even given our lacking HR group, Pedro has settled in quite well and is feeling more comfortable with us and the pack. He has become quite sweet with us, asking for ear scratches and enjoying hanging around near us. He enjoys playing with the other dogs, and even made a special friend with one of our frequent “guest campers”, Cayton the Dangermouse (who is not a husky, but don’t tell him that).