Call of the Wild

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Today I want to talk about the challenges of having multiple dogs. It’s similar to having multiple children. With one… you know who did it. With several… you have to grill them into confessing. That is easier done with kids than dogs.

When you find your new sneakers ripped up, who are you going to blame? You show it to your pack and ask, “Who did this?” and they all look guilty. I guess because they all would have liked to have chewed them up even if they didn’t do it.

The crime will go unsolved unless you catch them red-handed. All things of value must be put up high until they reach the age where they know better than to eat dad’s shoes. Just part of raising multiple dogs.

A new thing happened today. Nikki is recovering from her surgery (Spay) and I don’t want her to rip out her stitches. I’ve kept her confined with me now for 4 days. She did really well, but you can only keep a husky quiet for so long.

This afternoon she was laying in her dog bed with her favorite toy and suddenly raised her little snout and let out this long sad howl. My huskies for the most part don’t howl unless they are unhappy. She missed being with Cooper and Sammie… and more so being able to be herself.

The Call of the Wild, the howl to be free, and the free spirit bred into her for generations. I listened to her because that’s what a good leader does.

Because of the fight a few weeks ago with Sammie over a treat, I’ve had to keep them apart unless one is on a leash. Sammie got a chomped on the ear in the last engagement, but wasn’t about to back down. So now those two must be supervised when they are together, one with a muzzle or all hell might break loose.

This is one of those times when you must be the leader and make decisions for the safety of your dogs. Just like you would make a hard decision about one of your own children.

It is not unusual for dogs to not like each other over something. From what I’ve read this is pretty common since day one for those who run dog sled teams. The trick is to know your dogs and plan accordingly. Once again, they are not humans willing to listen to logic…they are dogs first, and your buddy second.

To compound the problems now that Nikki is feeling better I have to give each of them “Yard Time.” In this case it becomes complicated by Nikki’s surgery. You see her and Cooper play really rough. Lots of zoomies and crazy husky stuff.

To sum it up, I’ve spent all day rotating dogs from the deck to the yard. Also trying to give them some time to be with another husky. You see as much as they love us, they also need husky time with each other. I’ve seen how my huskies immediately gravitate towards a strange husky. They know who they are kin to.

This is all part of being a good leader for your pack…doing what is required no matter how tired you are or if a good show is on TV.

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, is quoted as saying “change is the only constant in life.” This saying has also been translated to “the only constant is change.”

This is so true with huskies!

They change quite a bit as they age. They change depending on the dynamics of the pack, they change just because they are bored. They change all the time as they grow and learn. Do not expect them to remain the same for very long. You must be on your toes as some of these changes are subtle but might lead to what seems like a sudden change that makes you think they have lost their minds.

You missed the signs leading up to it. That is why you need to spend time with them every day and actually observe them. That is how you learn about your own husky(s).

Multiple dogs bring multiple situations you have to figure out and deal with. All I can say is you have to do the best you can…weigh the risk to your dogs vs. the wellbeing of the pack (that includes your family.) Then select the best option you can. Just like kids you cannot protect them completely. And you will never be able to predict how they will act in any given situation until afterword’s.

You do the best you can, and hope for the best. You won’t always be right, but you will know you made the best choice you could, given your own set of circumstances. To not make a decision is worse than making one based on what you know at the time.

When you get more huskies, you have to become more in tune with each one. Just like people they each have their own personalities and react to others by the way they are treated. You not only have to look at each dog, but you have to look at the state of the entire pack.

The pack is made up of individuals. Each one unique in its own personality. But when combined these individuals can form a group mentality. It can be either positive or negative. What makes a good team of anything is when all the pieces fit to the benefit of all. That is called synergy: When the group produces a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects (good or bad.)

This is where you come in as the leader. This is when all you’ve done with each individual dog pays off.  From pulling sleds or living together as one big happy family. The work you put in, or don’t put in will show up.

An example from my friend Jonathan Nathaniel Hayes in his book, “MUSH, Leadership lessons learned from a lead dog.”

In my own words, not his:

Each dog learned that I can control him working one on one. I say stop and can make him stop. He learns the commands and knows I can enforce them. So, when you have 14 dogs hooked to a sled if they decide to run…I cannot physically stop them. But they stop for me.

Why? Because each dog on the team thinks I can.

The point I learned from this example is having a dog or a pack under control is the same. The dogs think you can control them so they obey. If they don’t think you can control them you’ve already lost the battle. It’s not about being mean or abusive, it’s about getting into the mind of the husky.

Learn how you dog(s) think and you will go far with a lot less trouble along the way.

Just food for thought on your journey with the husky.

TJ

 

 

 

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