The Importance of being ALPHA
We see it all the time, and they are easily pegged in a room full of people. The ALPHA!
It was most unexpected yesterday when I got to view this up front, personal and far from comfortable.
A friend and their family were traveling for Christmas and asked my daughter to go over to feed their dogs for the week until they arrived back from the holiday. We both tend to spoil our dogs; they are members of the family. They eat when we eat, go where we go and get lots of love and attention each day. Leaving these “attention hounds” at home for a week didn’t seem like a very good idea to me. Silly me, suggested rather than my daughter visiting them each day, it would be better to bring them here for the week.
The dogs walk with our two daughters together all the time, so they were not strangers and they all played well together. So what could possibly be the harm in having four large, male dogs at our home for the week?
The Alpha’s—that’s what.
Cadman-a purebred black lab, a follower and mine. He gave up within his first week of joining our family of ever holding the Alpha position and has gladly gone on to simply live each day chasing birds and being a sniffer.
Moose a mutt rescued from the pound. 145 pounds of Pyrenees mix. In our home is 100% Alpha between the two. He is an anger management dog. Moose gladly joined the family and promptly took over the Alpha role.
Buddy one of our visitors, an Australian Shepard/Blue Healer mix. He is pure Alpha in his house, even though he is deaf. No one is allowed to eat until he has selected the bowl he wants. No one is allowed to go through a door until he has passed through. No one is allowed to drink from his water dish ever, PERIOD! Did I mention this Alpha is deaf?
Prince one of our visitors, a purebred Australian Shepard. His role in life is to tend to Buddy and his special needs due to deafness.
Sadly, I discovered there is a difference between being on lead and free-run of the home (which I knew would exist to some extent). The two Alphas spend the day arguing out the top position. It was most funny. If one would lie downthe other Alpha would wait for them to get good and comfortable and then challenge them for the position.
They each drink from the others water dishlooking at each other as if smiling from ear to ear at how they could “take over” the others territory.
We have two cats, which prior to this were members of the household, quite ignored by the dogs. Our visitors also have a resident cat, which is also ignored by the dogs. But no, you get two Alphas together and the poor cats turn into “leadership skills”. The cats win every time, but you could never tell that to the two alphas.
The whole day was spent in ALPHA ARGUMENT with those two, while Cadman and Prince had a most enjoyable day chasing each other or catching balls. But the two Alphas spent the day “on the prowl”. Puffing out their chests and proving their position as the ALPHA.
No blood was shed and no wounds were inflicted. But both of them spent their day in having to prove who they were and how they were better than each other. Last night they all slept hard and sound. I guess spending the day proving who you are wore them down.
What about the other two? They slept curled up in a king size booty bag together, happily, peacefully and most content.
We got up this morning and have found the Alphas had not figured it out and in the past four hours have already worked themselves up into a battled frenzy—the other two have eaten their oatmeal and gone about playing with each other in joy.
Hmmm, is there a lesson here? Not that everyone should be a follower because we all need a “leader”—but dang, does everyone have to spend every waking moment of the day trying to prove their ALPHA ROLE?
Find your place in what it is that you do. Perform your position to the best of your ability and let all those “ALPHAS” feel the heat and the burden to be on the top of the chain.
It was in watching these four boys interact yesterday that it became clear. The Alphas are so worried about “losing their power” that they never realized the joy in life around them.