In my last post I wrote about the work I do in the garden: guardening. But that is not the only thing I do out there. You see: we have a very nice garden. It is not a huge estate, but it is big enough to do several fab things. I like to sunbathe on the terrace. And investigate the plants:
Sometimes I bring Chuck out in the garden. Chuck is my prey. He stays indoors most of the time, the poor bastard. I know he is a little afraid to go out, begin a chicken and all that, but I think it is important for him to be in the Great Outdoors now and then. The garden is just what he can handle, so that is fine. I am sure he is grateful to me, for bringing him out into the fresh air.
There is something else I do in the garden, but that is a secret. No one knows, not even M, so please do not tell her. I would like to show it to you, though, because adventures tend to get even more exciting when shared. This is it, my Secret Project:
I am digging a tunnel! To… well, I do not exactly know where to. I guess I’ll find out when I get there.
You see: our garden is a great place to be!
Chuck, my favorite prey, is no more. That is at least what M tells me. He is broken, she says. I do not see the point. I can still drag him around with me, I don’t care whether he consist of one or two parts. They easily fit into my mouth. But M will throw him away, she tells me. This is what Chuck looks like now. He changed into an extended version of himself:
M thinks I will be sad about it, so she bought me a new prey. She just gave it to me and tells me this is Chuck, too.
Ha! I can’t be fooled: this is not Chuck. He does not smell nor taste like Chuck.
This ain’t Chuck, this is Chick!
I don’t mind, though. I like to play with Chick. Maybe even more than I did with Chuck, because Chick makes squeaky sounds when I bite her. Nice.
Some things in life are obvious. Like the fact that dogs need a walk every day. Not just a ten-minute-stroll-around-the-block, but a real walk. To an exiting place, like the beach or the park. My humans know this and we walk a lot. Which is nice.
But one can overdo this a-long-walk-every-day stuff. Humans tend to do that sometimes, don’t they? They don’t just exercise, which is good, but they exercise too much. My humans don’t do this, normally, they are reasonable and intelligent. They know when it is healthy to exercise and when it is time to stop and rest. However, yesterday something went wrong. We walked and walked and walked. And when we stopped to have lunch, I thought we would take a train or a car or something to go back home, but we didn’t. We walked all the way back!
We walked more than 30 kilometers. And that, I can tell you, is exhausting. Even for a well trained dog like me, with my long legs and strong muscles. When I got home, I wolfed down my food and went to sleep immediately (with Chuck, who had stayed home all day, the lazy bastard).
Jeez. I do hope my humans won’t do this again.
Yesterday I met a dog on the beach who asked me who is on top of the hierarchy in my pack. He had read my blog about knowing one’s place, where I state that Chuck is at the bottom of this hierarchy. The dog was curious where I stand. I thought it a very stupid question. I am on top, of course!
The dog who asked me this is not the brightest one and therefore it is not good if he uses his tiny brain for subjects that are too demanding for him. He’d better focus on necessary tasks (like finding food). That is why I gave him this answer. The correct answer to his question is not that simple. You see: a hierarchy in a group of dogs or humans or a mixed group is not static, but dynamic. Who is ‘on top’ depends on the task that needs to be done.
As I wrote before about the misconception of dominance, dogs and humans work together in a way that is best for a certain situation. Every group consists of leaders and followers, but they are not always the same humans or dogs. The human or dog who is most able to perform the task required is in the lead. So it depends on the task who is ‘boss’. I read in these management magazines (P reads them too) that it works exactly the same way in modern human organizations. There is no boss who tells everybody what to do, but there are specialists, working together.
That is exactly how it works in packs of dogs and humans, too. Humans know the way in the complex human world, so they guide us there. It is their speciality. Dogs know the way in the natural and spiritual world, so we guide our humans there. We teach them to be patient (when we do not come when called, for instance), to be clear in their intentions (you cannot lie to us, we see right through you) and we give comfort in hard times. Our hierarchy is fluid, it changes according to the circumstances.
Anyway, that is too difficult a story to tell the dog with the tiny brain, so I just told him I am the boss in our little hierarchy. He is a terrible newsmonger, I am sure he will tell all the beach dogs that I am the boss. Good! That’s great for my image.
We dogs are easy to understand, if you know what to look for. We live by a few simple rules. Hierarchy is one of them. To us hierarchy is very important. That makes sense, because we live in groups. In groups of dogs or humans, that doesn’t matter to us. In a group you need a hierarchy to function. Wild dogs need this structure to hunt and get their food. Can you imagine what would happen if every member of the pack would do as he pleases, one chasing a squirrel, the other chasing a rabbit and the rest of them snoozing in the sun because they ‘don’t feel like doing anything today’? Right: they won’t get anything to eat and they will die.
A lot of modern dogs do not need to hunt anymore. We are city dogs and farm dogs: we get fed by humans. But still we need hierarchy. It gives clear rules, a structure for us to function in. Like humans, we like to know the boundaries, so we can feel safe and free inside them. No structure means uncertainty and we do not like that. When there is no structure, we will make one ourselves. It comes natural to us, as you can see when dogs meet for the first time. They will sort out the rules and the hierarchy pretty quick. I noticed that humans do the same: as soon as they meet, they start exploring each others position in order to sort out the hierarchy. Funny, hey? Humans and dogs do not differ that much, surprisingly.
Like I said: we dogs live in groups and it does not matter to us whether it is a group of dogs or humans. We call it our pack, either way. My pack consists of M and P and Chuck. Sometimes it gets enlarged with other temporary members, friends from M and P or me. But this is my core pack. We have a strict hierarchy. Chuck is way down this hierarchy. That is why I let him sleep on my bed, but he has to stay on the ground. And I sleep in the chair. Which is more cosy and soft and also higher. We dogs take things very literal: higher in the hierarchy also means higher in height. A dog that sleeps on the sofa, the bed, in a chair is higher than the ones that stay on the floor. Like Chuck. I can even remove him from the cushion on the floor if I feel like it and he won’t complain, ever. Chuck knows his place, our hierarchy is very clear.
Look what happened:
Chuck left the sofa. M took him and put him on my bed, telling me that he does not belong on the sofa and should lie on the doggy bed, just like me.
Both Chuck and I are very disappointed. We are thinking about Plan C, but our creativity runs low at this point. Maybe you have any suggestions? We definitely want to lie on the sofa!
I am content with my life with M and P, most of the time. Although there are a couple of things that need improvement. Being allowed on the sofa is one thing. On Facebook I see pictures of happy dogs on sofas and sometimes I meet a dog who is boasting about the couch cuddles he receives from his human, happily sitting on the sofa together, watching tv. Then I mumble something like ‘yeah I know what you are barking about, our sofa is gloriously soft too and I sleep on it for hours and hours’.
But alas, that is not so. I was allowed on the sofa when living with my foster family. As soon as I entered M and P’s house and jumped on their sofa to test it, they put me back on the ground. Again and again. Friendly, but persistent. So I know what it is like, lying on a soft sofa, but I am denied that luxury now.
That is why I made up a plan. You can call it Plan B, since Plan A – jumping on their sofa the moment I entered the house – did not work. Plan B involves Chuck, my new prey. When M and P weren’t looking, I positioned him on their sofa. Like this:
When I came in the living room this morning, he was still there. This can only mean one thing: M and P don’t mind to share their sofa. With Chuck, yes. But that is a start. Once they get used to the idea of sharing the sofa, they won’t mind if I use it too. I will modestly lie in a corner of the couch at first and then I will gradually increase the space I am using until I can lie gloriously in the middle of the sofa, between M and P. It is big enough for that, you know.
I strongly believe in my plan. I mean: when they let Chuck lie on the sofa, why wouldn’t they let me? It would be totally unfair if I still had to lie on the floor. And M and P are fair humans, I am certain about that.
So I hope that the next selfie I will publish will be a selfie of me on the sofa. A sofaselfie! I’ll keep you informed.