Rob's Blog Archive

September 20, 2015

On Being God










Two new dogs have just joined the Silly Lake Pack.  Actually, they’re not in the pack.  They’re just visiting while a friend is hospitalized.  Beyond the temporary nature of their stay, they aren’t Siberians.  Both are mixed breeds of some sort.  Both also have an intense drive to be near me and please me.  That’s very different from any dog I’ve ever owned.  And with this, I’ve attained a new status: I am their god---at least a demigod.  

From Sapura to Lamia, that’s never happened.  I may be the alpha male in the pack---most have agreed with that---but that’s a much more limited role.  My Siberians like keeping track of where I am, but that can be at a pretty good distance.  Dawn and Tenaya would often be at the other end of the house.  Moreover, if my dogs ever wanted to be scratched, it was because something itched.  They may have enjoyed physical affection but it didn’t affect their self-esteem.

Whitey and Bo are different.  At least while they’re in the house and not distracted by either other dogs or wildlife outside, they stay within ten feet of me.    And, particularly when I head down to the kitchen, they hope I’m a benevolent god and deem to give them some food.  Each of my Sibes has recognized that I’m their primary food source---neither the new dogs nor the Sibes are averse to stealing food, so I’m not anybody’s sole food source----but they never looked at food as being a sign of my approval.  Beyond the practical fallout from my being the alpha and controlling the food, my Sibes simply didn’t care about my approval. 

Along with hanging very close to me, Bo and Whitey require regular scratching.  They even get possessive about it.  Dogs I’ve had have sometimes gloated about getting scratched, but nobody took that that seriously.  It was like a teenager whose “new” car was an old Toyota.  Bo and Whitey haven’t fought over my attention, but Bo has made it clear that he’d be willing to---he is the dominant one of the pair.  I do try and make sure they realize that I don’t favor any one of my flock, much to Bo’s chagrin.

Of course, there are pleasant aspects of this.  Even past the age of 12, I couldn’t leave Tenaya in the house when I trained the sled dogs.  I tried a couple of times and usually came home to find something ripped up.  The thought of staging a protest hasn’t crossed either of these two dogs’ minds.

Finally, they don’t run off.  After watching for half an hour, I left the two boys alone only to find one left in the yard when I returned.  It ends up the younger of the two, Whitey, has no problem getting over a 6’ chain link fence. I just called his name and he came trotting back.  Tenaya’s walkabouts lasted multiple hours and clearly covered miles. 

I have a photo from the confirmation part of the Siberian Husky specialty show the Bay Area Siberian Husky Club, BASH, put on each year.  In it there are half a dozen Sibes.  Two are looking at each other, two more are looking off in the distance, and two more are checking out the ground they’re standing on.  Not one is paying a bit of attention to his owner. 

The other show BASH used to put on was a general dog show including confirmation and obedience competitions.  Watching the obedience competition, I noticed how intently every dog looked up at his master or mistress and I thought to myself, “These aren’t Sibes.”  And neither are Bo and Whitey.

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