Almost a week ago we adopted a dog from the Bahamas Humane Society. Snickers, is a loving very affectionate Potcake (see www.potcake.org) and we believe will continue to make a welcome addition to our home for years to come. In preparation for our new addition I read and fell in love with Cesar's Milan's book about handling dogs entitled Cesar's Way. Cesar speaks of the importance for dogs to be in an established pack. The pack in nature consists of dogs only but in our North American world the pack for a dog more often now consists of all who live in the family, people, dogs and cats.The pack therefore can consist of endless combinations but whatever it is looks like there is one thing that all packs need to survive, a leader, a calm assertive leader. The pack leader gives directions, monitors other dogs and provides the necessary leadership to ensure the survival of the pack. The other dogs learn to submit to the leadership and live with the limits provided by the balanced leader. I am the pack leader and am trying my best to be that calm assertive leader providing balance to our small MacPhail pack of 2 dogs.
Snickers from the beginning wanted the pack leaders job and tried to establish her dominance. Some of that need came from being a shelter dog where she had higher than normal anxiety, and more physical demands on her skinny little body. I could have felt sorry for her and let her take over but I needed to quell that notion and encourage her to follow my leadership. It did not take long for Snickers to recognize my leadership and falls in line with the rules of the MacPhail house. Now the pack hierarchy has been established and Snickers is no longer scared when other dogs bark at us during our walks. Yes, she walks closer to her leader but with her ears high and tail wagging. Watching Snickers integrate into our pack allowed me to see a transformation from an anxious -tail between the legs- not sure where the next meal is coming from kind of dog. To a confident, calm and loving dog who is able to be who she was meant to be, a dog.
People are not a lot different than Snickers, when we are unsure of who is our pack leader we can be anxious, on guard and unable to trust that life will work out. I often experience doubt, insecurity and anxiety, I can become so absorbed in my own "survival" that it is difficult to bond with others. But I can also tell you that when I remember the amazing presence of my pack leader (God) I experience peace and a calm no matter what is "barking" at me. I am a control freak and often when I do take control I make life harder and not as satisfying. It takes a lot for me to submit and allow God to work as He needs to in my life. I need a reminder of the fact that rarely do I have it all together and if I feel like I do that is the time when I fall the hardest. I need the reminder that it is hard to trust but it is not only good to trust but also worth the effort it takes to push aside my pride and calmly say I am yours Lord.
My pack leader is God, and is evidenced by my relationship with Him and His spirit within me. He created a place for me to just be me, nothing more nothing less.
Shine On my friends and remember we are not in a pack when we create our own leader.