When you have an overeager Puppy, and an middle-aged former shut-in dog, sometimes the signals get crossed.
Rack’s Pack was out that night, wandering around on our route. We’re forced into a few specific routes because Rack doesn’t handle the noises as well as he will in the future. When I take him out on The Drive where his nemesis the evil 50 Bus lives, he’ll begin to tow me down the sidewalk as fast as he can to get us out of there.
That’s not the best, so we’re varying the route to stay off The Drive as much as we can.
Back in my neighborhood, only a block or three away, we’re heading back to the house.
Rack is out front, as usual. I’m trying to convince him that his place is next to me and not stretching his legs and my arms at the same time, but since he needs as much confidence as we can get him, this training will be a bit less intense and I will have to let him get away with murder.
We three notice that he’s perked. Ears are up, and he is acting like a friend is approaching. I don’t see anything until they come out from under the big Gumbo Limbo on the dark corner. It’s Kaya and Cricket and Cricket’s friend. They’re coming home from a night at the bars. We must have a dog friendly bar somewhere in town, it doesn’t surprise me. This is Florida and I’ve heard enough stories of Hemingway Cats in Key West until I’m coughing up furballs.
They are about 50 feet away and Rack is already leaping in air. There are Parkour acts that aren’t as springy as my dog is. He will bounce until I reel him in.
The ladies and the husky approach and I notice that Ellie, Bill’s Mixed Breed, has just stepped aside. It’s probably too intense for her and her middle-aged suburban dog sensibilities. Rack is running around doing The Play Stance on his front paws. Kaya is the Momma Dog of the neighborhood. She doesn’t have puppies, but she’s a good trainer for one. Kaya has been known to give out Puppy Slaps with her one paw to calm down my errant furry spring when he gets out of control.
Ellie is still watching from the side.
There was a piece of pine bark mulch that caught Kaya’s attention, and she was trying to chew on it like a toy. Pine Bark Mulch is not the best thing to chew on, so Cricket would get it from her and move it out of range. With the dynamics of three dogs, and all the movement, the piece of bark kept going back into the reach of Kaya’s mouth.
Things being what they were, Kaya began to guard it while telling Rack to back off by making perfectly clear grumbling noises. To a Husky it made sense. To a McNab who was pretending to be a bobble-head and a spring, it was something to be ignored.
Ellie tried to join in on the sniff fest and the general fun, but wasn’t really sure.
You see, Ellie really didn’t speak Husky.
Each time Kaya would grumble, Ellie would growl. Never mind that Ellie was about 1/2 the size of Kaya, she didn’t like what this big white Husky Girl was saying. This was a perfectly clear conversation in the language of Dog.
I was watching this whole conversation and noticed the interplay between the three. Keeping Rack’s leash tight, I mentioned to Bill that he should watch what Ellie was saying – she was unsure of what was up.
It was at this point where the two females did what females do everywhere – they got loud. Rack backed up immediately, Ellie and Kaya were barking outright at each other, and the party needed to be broken up.
Nobody got nipped, it was very clear what was going on.
Ellie was protecting her pack as best as a Beta Dog could. She considers Rack “more Alpha” than she is, even if Rack is a paper tiger. Rack was acting like a black and white goofball who was just bouncing around being a 14 month old puppy. He precipitated matters by annoying Kaya who just wanted to chew on the mulch.
I explained all of this to our pack and to the ladies and called it a good learning experience for all.
The training will continue. Kaya is fine. She’s doing what a well mannered pack animal would do.
Our little pack is still gelling together. Ellie is protective of we three, plus Rack. Rack is mellowing. He’s down to 11 on the volume control, which is down from about a 15. Puppy energy being what it is at his age, he won’t be this nutty forever.
We will guide them all to be perfect citizens. Three miles a day exposure to all sorts of urban realities certainly has helped us all. The dogs are getting better mannered and even my weight is down a couple pounds – who couldn’t use that?