Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Ratter Pack, Chicago, IL

Rosemary, my miniature schnauzer grand dog, doesn’t sidle up to most folks outside her “pack”. And her pack, until my arrival this past week to dog sit, consisted of the two alpha “parent” roles and her. As it turns out, a little research on wild wolf packs reveals that this is pretty common, with the possible addition of some other family members. In fact, wolf packs are generally more like family units than roaming gangs or a group of celebrities like the Frank Sinatra Rat Pack. Schnauzers were bred for their guarding tendencies and the miniatures were initially used for “ratting”.

After spending almost five days of uninterrupted companionship with Rosemary, I may have finally received my unspoken membership into the pack. I first met Rosemary when she was still a pup two years ago and we got along just fine. But my last visit was initially met with her adult guarding instincts in reaction to someone outside the three-member pack that had shaped her life up to that point. There is an intense loyalty within the tight knit pack and outsiders simply shouldn’t be offended if they're met with defensive behavior. Of course, that’s hard to explain to some guy walking his dog that turns a blind corner at the same time as Rosemary and me! In fact, we don’t even think twice about sticking around for an explanation!

Rosemary now welcomes my appearance at morning’s first light and whenever I step back into a room. In fact, she now likes to be at my side and enjoys the companionship. She’s comfortable sleeping in my presence, especially following the elusive warm sunlight in the room where I'm writing. She even initiates playtime and thoroughly enjoys our walks together, even though she’s still intently focused on the ratting task at hand.

Dogs are crepuscular in nature, which means that their natural period of activity is at twilight (dawn and dusk) when the rays of sunshine are at their longest. They generally rest during the day and night. So it’s not uncommon for Rosemary to experience a bit of pack separation anxiety when she’s aware of the coming and going times of the day. But now that she’s accepted me into the pack, we can romp around and distract her until the rest of the pack returns. Then I’ll probably experience pack separation anxiety myself as I fly back to the Carolina's!

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