Rescue Journal

so i am just going to throw a few things out there...

Carol  ·  May 12, 2014

and those who are better educated or more informed on the newest stuff than me about animal things can chuckle or sneer or shake their heads in disbelief and simply think i am crazy.

but i do have my own thoughts on some things.

firstly..the de-bunking of "the pack" "alpha," and "dominence" theories.

i live with up to 40 dogs at any given moment, day in day out for more than 10 consecutive years now..i eat with them, i sleep with them, i play with them and i keep on top of them so they are not allowed to go totally bezerke. and it is not the same 40 dogs this past is actually hundreds of ones coming in, old ones passing on, forever changing populations. i don't think theories..i live my personal theories with many, many different dogs.
and here is what i have learned...all of the broad sweeping theories are wrong because they miss one very vital fact..each individual dog is unique..physically, socially, environmentally, spiritually, genetically...they are all one unto their own.

3/4's of my dogs here have no pack hierarchy, they do not give a rats ass about where they or anyone else stands in the pecking order. they live their life their way. they care about themselves and they care about me. 1/4 of my dogs are firmly entrenched in pack behavior and pack hierarchy..they care about themselves, they care about me and they care about the standings of the other dogs around them too. these dogs do have alpha leaders and they do have pack members scraping the bottom of the totum pole. there are dogs so inherently dominent that they can walk in here brand new off the street and have every other dog give way to them without a second thought. dominence is really just personal power and some dogs have a ton of personal power around other dogs.

the question becomes...which dogs will not participate in pack behaviors and which dogs will?

dogs raised solely and singularly within a safe family environment without a lot of trauma in their lives in my experience display far less pack behaviors. i personally think these dogs are more civilized..but that's just my personal opinion. in any case these dogs are far more interested in the lives of human beings than they are in the lives of other dogs. dogs raised in multiple k9 households, dogs who have suffered from physical or emotional trauma or socially isolated, feel somewhat bewildered or unsure of human expectations and are more likely to form strong bonds with other K9's... and that is when i start seeing more pack type behaviors. the more they are interested in what other dogs are doing, the more they are likely to display pack behaviors. pack behaviors are really just pack rules, they are simple and easy for the dogs to understand..not as confusing as human rules. these dogs can have strong emotional bonds with their chosen humans but they are more likely to revert to pack behaviors when their human is not around for them to focus on.

any species that lives and interacts together communally over an extended period of time will have some kind of latent or more readily apparent pack mentality..and this includes human beings.

we are all on some kind of team at some point in our lives.

so to say pack behavior in dogs is a myth or all dogs participate in pack behavior..both are right AND wrong. some dogs do...some dogs don't.

next...all dogs can be saved, all dogs can be trained, all dogs can be rehabilitated, all dogs problems can be fixed if we do all of this the right way.

no they can't.

and why is this?..because dogs are not machines.

we are talking living, breathing, thinking, feeling creatures with DNA/genetics affecting them, hormones, neurotransmittors, chemical balance or imbalances, past experiences good or bad, learned behaviors, coping mechanisms, physical health good or bad, including mental health issues as well.
if every person could be fixed into kind, respectful, peaceful, compassionate citizens..well maybe then could also our friends the dogs..dogs brains are not less than ours. they are not a tinker toy to be tuned to our frequency just because we think we can.

finally all companion animals need a home but they need the RIGHT home. luna failed in both of her previous homes..not because she was with bad people..she was with good people who really cared. but luna needed more than that..she needed the freedom to unlock and climb out windows, to jump 5 foot fences, to dig holes to china, to chew up the door frames, to run and to run and to run and to drive her family crazy while still feeling like she was deeply loved and forever safe no matter what crazy wildness possessed her. how many homes do you know like that? not many. which is why she is here. you can't train this shit out of luna..this need for the freedom to soar past boundries is inherently part of her. she does well here because she can spread her wings safely here. and she knows where her safety lies because for all of the fences over which she flies...she never flies over the perimeter fences...she stays safe within these because this is where she wants to be.

there is no point coming to saints and asking to adopt chloe because you fell in love with her photo and you absolutely adore pure white cats. you adore cats that you will never touch? that have to be chased down and cornered in order to take to the vet, that if she feels frightened and unsafe will hide under the couch for weeks at a time, peeing and pooping under there and you will have to be sliding fresh food and water to her? that if she ever got outside would be lost forever to you? is that the kind of pure white cat that you love?

animals are not the sum of what they look like or what we want them to be. they are the sum of everything inside of them and all of that in infinite combinations make them like us, totally unique. and they have their own personal needs.

they deserve our recognition and consideration of this when choosing new pets to join our families.

ok..blah blah is done.


max cat was at the vets for a check up and xrays..his chest is bad again.

tinsel's blood sugars are good, but we are awaiting the rest of her blood work to see if something else is going on.

gabby was in also, she is FIV and has a slight treatment required at this point yet.

anne came out and finished grooming owen..he is a bit of a bald baby for now.

phoebe is such a hag...she bit poor little sparky on the tongue.

vern came out tonight to talk to me about the possibilities surrounding the new permanent pig pools and to look at the big dog room to give us an estimate so we can apply for a grant to fix it up. it is far too hot in there in the summer and far too cold in the winter so we are looking at a total gut job to bring it up to year round comfortable living for the dogs. his wife deanne came out with him..she is one of my nursing buddies. deanne is always fascinated by our animals so we visited the barns and all around. the animals were happy for the break in the usual night time routine. mystic and crew got to run around the fields for longer and luna spent her time flying over fences over and over to impress their sweet dog abbey with her amazing flying ability.

i am a bit behind on the bedtime stuff so i better get at 'er and get it all done..i think that is all of the new stuff plus another long blah, blah post from me.



that's really neat, Carol... it makes a lot of sense. :-)
dogs follow that, too. i've seen it with my three, and the way they respond to their human family members, too.


sometimes you have to be careful about accepting the reality of scientific was not that long ago that science was bending over backwards to prove that africans had smaller and less intelligent brain capacities when compared to whites.

there were widely accepted studies that proved women were highly emotional creatures and intellectually inferior to men.

30 years ago there were scientific studies that proved animals did not feel physical pain, even with the most torturous things being done to them.

10 years ago it was warming was happening, global warming was not happening..depended on which study you were reading.

there are still a few die hards out there producing scientific proof that animals do not feel emotions.

i wonder what the scientists would say watching luna, mystic, june and boomer packing up on puff, andy or jake when individually they all (except luna) leave them entirely alone.

we only know what we think we know until we think we know something better.

my favorite example of pack behavior here was actually flock behavior (pack, flock, herd, is all the same thing)...every time a new sheep arrived the other sheep would head butt and initially try to drive the new comer out, sometimes it took a long time for them to accept a new one as part of the flock. this happened when granny came..too old, too frail to really be accepted by the other two sheep.except when elizabeth arrived. when elizabeth came..she was used to following around an old sheep from her previous home. as soon as she got here, she assumed granny as the eldest was the leader of the flock. elizabeth immediately started following granny around, the other sheep accepted that elizabeth knew something that they did not know and was following granny for a reason and they started following them both around. from that moment on wards the sheep all followed granny where ever she went. for a brief period of time until grannys death...she in one instant of mistaken identity jumped from being an outcast to being the matriarch of the little flock of four. it made her happy,she was not only accepted, she was now the trusted leader....i am glad about that.


i do believe my dogs from saints have been the dominant dogs, given the fact that they may have had to be that way in order to survive. none have come from good homes where they had nothing to worry about even little nikki will fight for her space and food. jelly was very dominant, she was the queen around here and let everyone know it. i think max whom i have had for 10 years, is the one who lets everyone else rule. maybe because he has seen so many come and go. i really dont know. i do know that max would prefer to be an only dog, but he is very forgiving and steps aside for all the others. maybe he knows they deserve their chance, just like he got his. i just know that i have been very lucky in the fact that whatever dog i have brought home has somehow fit in with the others.dont know how dont know why just happy that it is. i am certainly not an expert on dogs but my dogs are all very much individuals and do not form a pack. it is me whom they love, not each other. im fine with that.


these kind of relationships, though... if only it was so simple to categorize!
you've got me thinking my home hierarchy, now... or if there is one... and how it works. we only ever use it in terms of why one dog defers to another, and why. that is all interconnected to their relationship, and the relations they have with the others, too.
the hierarchy system wouldn't work with a place like SAINTs. so many different relationships, so many different people, so many different animals!
basing it on relationships between each other makes more sense.
you could write a whole essay on this!
imagine if SAINTs was used as a thesis topic on this behaviour!


surely, they all know, or guess, you're the one in charge?
if using those kind of terms, with SAINTs, i always see you as the alpha.