Friday, July 3, 2015

Pack Behavior Concept is a Lost Leader

Hi, somebody in group asked, so here's a share!
I was looking to this conversation more for answers, than to tell you guys all about my observations.
After almost thirty years as a professional trainer, meaning that’s how I earned my living, we decided to retire to Puerto Rico, where my education began started over.  
In 2005, the first Sato, Puerto Rican slang for mixed breed, usually dog of the street, perro de calle, I came to know we called Stormy, a border collie terrier mix. He appeared at the bottom of our driveway; the way many would follow.
The best thing that happened was that I had just had surgery and could barely move. Forced to sit on the porch, I watched him chase cars with the vengeance of a zealot. I couldn’t rush down there to save him. He handled life on his own; something no dog in my domain has ever had the opportunity to do.
Based on your comments in group, I’ll briefly, nah, not so much, hit the highlights of the observed since meeting the wonderful Stormy.
He lived in a specific “spot,” which included my house and two others on the opposite side of a narrow country road. He defended all three houses from anything that didn’t belong: cars, people, other critters of the island: dogs, cats, mongoose, and he was a marvelous ratter.
At night a pair of big feral male dogs that lived off the road in a field with streams would come to inspect Stormy’s spot.  They sniffed and pissed, while Stormy laid with his head to the railing, so they passed his rear, as they nosed around on my porch. They toured his spot like the big bullies they were.
Stormy didn’t budge while they peed on his water dish, my car, and the entrance posts of the porch. You can say I’m anthropomorphizing, but I could feel Stormy seething. He couldn’t confront these dogs and he knew it, hence the I’m going to ignore you posture. This inspection and claiming of superiority/territory repeated.
I began to notice that night barking was different, than back home in Illinois, where it seems to be mostly about intruder alert. It starts with a chorus from all over the valley, gradually, voices drop out; until it would be only Stormy and two or three of the older dogs of the valley.
Listening to these older dogs in the dark, I could hear that there was a pattern in their barks. To give you an example, one dog would bark, woof, woof, ruff. The second dog would bark the same thing back.
It’s funny because Puerto Ricans repeat my Spanish just to make sure they heard what I intended. (My Spanish sucks.) I bring this up because that’s what this repeat barking came to sound like to me.
Stormy had a bark I recognized as, I’ll be right there because when he barked it, he left with what seemed to me like purpose and intent. No bribing him changed his mind, but he did give me a dirty look. Ha-hah!
From the first nose to tail I ever witnessed, I knew it to be some sort of  important dog language communication. A mile and a half or more away Stormy stood on the side of the road parallel to an Airedale mix male who was just settling into the neighborhood. Ears neither forward or back, just draped to the sides, they stood there, facing opposite directions, looking like they were in a trance, but I believe it to be intense focus on each other.
I pulled to the side of the road to watch, and then, of course, I had to call Stormy. His ears momentarily twitched in my direction. The dog freakin’ told me to butt out, so I drove off to watch in my rear view mirror. It was years before this big strong male following a female interloped on Stormy’s spot.
Damn, this is awfully long, sorry. The deal with so called pack behavior concept is that it’s a lost leader, going now where. These aren’t families like the wild dogs in Africa. They are strangers thrust together to compete for limited resources. They form alliances, make enemies, but always they work for themselves.
I saw a blind mother lead around by her son fiercely keep other males away while he bred at bitch for days. Breeding behavior is always interesting, but that I’d never seen before. Mother and son were completely devoted. The bitch he was breeding snapped at momma; he dismounted and just chewed the shit out of her. Not too much later, he bred her again.

I haven’t thought about this stuff in years; thanks for asking. 

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