The Newest Member Of The Pack

The strength of the wolf is the pack

— Rudyard Kipling

If you call one wolf, you invite the pack

–Bulgarian Proverb



Girl is like plenty of humans–in that she defines her world as those members that are in the pack–and those that aren’t. It’s called an in-group bias in the psychology books–and it’s been around since the hunter and gatherer days for many a reason that makes sense to me when I’ve delved into the reading.

After years of acute observation–as far as I can tell, anyways–Girl considers herself the alpha female in an in-group that includes three other females, two males and a cat. The cat, ‘Kitty’, is just a couple of months younger than Girl–and because she arrived on the scene while Girl was still feeling her way around her environment–the cat worked her way into the pack through some type of animal osmosis. There’ll be no other cats that reach that privileged state, I’m sure. Every other cat that Girl has encountered (either inside or out) has driven her into predator mode from the first smell/sight. The last one being forced up a tree just this last Monday.

Kitty, however, has free rein of the condo and can do pretty much anything she wants around the dog. That’s called a pack perk. And she has no problem using it every day. They’ve become true pack buddies w/ interactions second to only Girl and the one who gets her outside in the mornings.

Each of the other females have considerably less interaction in the group. But when they come around the den they are greeted w/ an exuberance from the alpha female that is over the top in the energy/noise exerted by Girl in welcoming them back into the fold.

No matter how long between encounters the greeting is the same. Plenty of tail wagging. Plenty of barking. And occasionally a playful nip if Girl isn’t getting the response/attention she thinks appropriate from the underlings.

The males? Well, she’s much more restrained when she greets me. Excited? Seems to be. A little, anyways. Her tail will wag and she definitely acknowledges the reunion–but nothing like the response/enthusiasm she has for the women in the pack.

The other male was put in the pack basically because whenever he entered the den he had some food w/ him.  Um, pizza. Enough of a reason right there for Girl to make him a member.

That’s it. Every other being is considered a part of the out-group.

If it’s a big dog, there’ll be barks. If it’s a small dog, some perfunctionary smells/licks, usually.

Humans might get some attention on a walk if they smell good–I.E., if they might have some type of food on their person. If not, she’s pretty oblivious to their appearance on the journey. Quick to move on and look for something/someone else to catch her attention.

Aloof would probably be the word to describe her behavior. Even when they want to make friends–which so many of them want to do while we’re making our way around town. She’s got that ‘it’ factor that is noticed by folks who comment on her looks. But she gives those handing out the compliments very thin gruel when it comes to an acknowledgement.

Dogs met when she’s off-leash in the woods can get her attention for a bit of a chase–but after a short moment of interaction it’s back to looking for rabbits. Adios, amigo.

The only time members of the out-group get the agitated bark treatment is when they have the audacity to knock on the door/enter the premises of her lair. The disturbance is a call to arms for the pack to her way of thinking. Then there’s plenty of noise/commotion to be had, to be sure. Ask my brother. It’s just the ways of the pack. That’s all.

Anyways, all that was prelude to Monday’s induction ceremony at the lair of one of the females.

Another one of the female/underlings brought the new born down from Grand Forks for his first visit. A visit that morphed into an induction ceremony as far as the alpha female was concerned.

The new mama was understandably nervous to having the dog around a one month baby. I wasn’t. But–then again–I’m the one that’s spent all the many hours studying the animal psychology of the alpha female for the last five plus years. Thousands of hours.

I knew that the loyalty to the pack ran strong in Girl. If one of the members of the in-group was introducing a new member to the others in the pack? Well, Girl would certainly trust the judgment of that member. Mistakes are far and few between amongst members. That meant that this visit was the right time to add another to the group–w/ all the benefits/duties/responsibilities that come w/ such an honor.

Simple as that. Deal done.

No doubt Girl let everyone–including the little one–know who was still in charge of the pack. Barking could be incessant along w/ baby’s cries when trying to install pack discipline in the newest member. But there was a method to this madness, too. Just Girl’s unconventional attempt to bring order to her perceived chaos. Not too difficult to understand, really.

But when baby was sleeping? Yep, Girl would plop herself down next to the slumbering new born taking her turn at sentry duty. After all, that’s the way of the pack. all for one and one for all. No shirkers. And the duty of the leader is to make sure everyone gets through to the other side unscathed. Especially the most vulnerable. After all, that’s the future of the group. That bundle of joy.

Grasp the leader’s point of view now?


That’s my story of this induction story, anyways. How I perceived the interaction of all those members who made the ceremony earlier this week. And I’m’ sticking to it.

Creed, welcome to the pack. Long may we run! Grandpa loves you! Girl, too. I just know it!

Time to bark at that super moon in glee for the newest addition to our exclusive group.


Happy musings.



Leave a Reply