All text material is copyright on the date published by Tom King. Graphics and photos are public domain unless otherwise noted.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Old Dogs and Alpha Males
I love beagles. We had one for 13 years. Sweetest animal ever. Beagles are pack dogs and if they think you are in the pack, they are devoted to you. As far as Suzy was concerned, I was the alpha male in the pack. She was the only creature in my particular pack, however, that saw things quite that way. It's probably why I was so fond of her.
She always met me at the fence with a big old goofy grin on her face. It was nice to always have one living being in the house that was glad to see me. The whole family took it hard when she died, me probably most of all. I held her head in my hands as she died and wept.
The day she died I lost my alpha male status!!!
When I was a kid we had an ugly little mutt named Pudgy that was definitely of the lone wolf persuasion. She pumped out puppies like a factory and loved to start fights among the packs of male dogs that roamed the neighborhood. She had no loyalties to anyone except a temporary one to whoever brought out her food bowl.
With Pudgy, I was always having to work to win her respect. The day she died, I was with her too. I cried then. Not for the alpha male status I lost, but for the alpha male status I never had with her.
Finally, there was Shags, an ugly brown mix between a poodle and a duckbill platypus. This dog had dreadlocks. A neighbor once asked me if I was ever going to pick up that pile of old rags out of the yard - it was Shags in his favorite sleeping place. Shags wasn't the alpha male either. Pudgy wouldn't give him the time of day. When he finally died of old age, I sat with him all day long as he drifted away and cried my eyes out. Neither of us were alpha males, but Shags was the only dog that ever was able to share that with me.
That awful power, the public opinion of a nation, is created in America by a horde of ignorant, self-complacent simpletons who failed at ditching and shoe-making and fetched up in journalism on their way to the poorhouse. -Mark Twain