am studying to become an alpha dog.
would think that, at my advanced age and with my great experience
as a lifelong dog owner, I would have attained some alpha status
would be wrong.
we decided to get another dog, my husband, who is a very logical
and studious person, and I determined that this time we would
get a dog that fit our needs. We knew we needed a small dog. We
wanted an intelligent dog with high skills as a companion dog
and a watchdog and few genetic defects. Our last dog, a mutt definitely
lacking in social skills and intellectual ability, was an excellent
watchdog. During his tenure, no one knew we had a doorbell. Friend
barked and hid under the steps until we came. This time, we decided,
we would get a dog with confidence, a trainable alpha dog.
so Tex entered our lives.
Tex is intelligent was established the first day. He learned to
sit. Every time he sat, I would bend down, pet him, and tell him
what a good dog he was. By the end of the first day he sat with
head cocked, ears erect, his eyes glued to my face, just like
all the puppy books said he should. I was a success! And he looked
so adorable that I picked him up and cuddled him. After all, hed
learned to sit in less than a day. He had earned high praise.
It took me three days to realize that he had trained me to pick
coming to the realization that Tex and I had different ideas of
what training consisted of, I decided we needed to establish dominance.
All the dog books my husband studied said dominance is the essential
ingredient in living with a well-trained, people friendly, easy-to-live-with
pet. I assumed establishing dominance would be easy. After all,
Tex weighed in at four pounds, and Iwell, I am heavier.
Tex now weighs seven pounds. I still weigh more. We are still
working on dominance.
two months of watching my husband take the dog for his evening
walk and seeing him return in less than ten minutes
with all accomplished while I still had to walk for half an hour
with nothing accomplished, I decided something was wrong. Dominance
had been established, but I was definitely not the dominant one.
Even fifteen-year-old Abigail, my dear friend and Texs dog
sitter and mentor had more dominance than I. She taught him to
sit, roll over, come, and fetch.
real crisis, my Waterloo, my Yorktown, my vote for the war before
I voted against it, came the day my friend Barbara came to visit.
Barbara trains dogs. Big dogs. She teaches German Shepherds the
finer points of protection work. Some of her dogs have weighed
as much as or more than Barbara does, but she controls them, if
not with ease, certainly with authority. To see an eighty-pound
shepherd sitting in front of petite Barbara with ears pricked
forward and eyes glued to hers, with one desireto obey her
every whimis a thing of beauty.
was the day Tex chose to be an unholy terror. Until Barbara walked
in. She sat down on the floor. Tex walked over and sat down in
front of her, ears pricked forward, eyes fastened on hers, readyno,
delightedto obey her every whim. Tex performed all the tricks
Abigail had taught him and sat down in front of Barbara and asked
Barbara left, Tex reverted to nasty form. Until my grandson walked
in. Noah is eight and has at least as much energy as Tex. Noah
sat down and once again Tex performed all Abigails tricks
was not the alpha dog.
I was the runt of the litter.
was a day that lives in infamy.
my five-year-old grandson, is fond of telling me, Grandma,
never give up. Never, never, never give up. But, as I tell
him, sometimes you have to reconceptualize.
reconceptualized. I read some of the books my husband handed me.
I even listened when he read relevant passages to me. I watched
the Dog Whisperer. I asked Barbara questions. And I tried to develop
Attitude, Authority, Assertion. I was going to be the Alpha Dog.
Tex improved. As long as I concentrated on Attitude, Authority
and Assertion, Tex obeyed. If my mind wandered, he practiced Attitude,
Authority and Assertion. I was no longer the runt of the litter,
but I certainly wasnt the Alpha Dog I needed to be.
came the day that Tex growled in MY KITCHEN.
found a blob of baked potato with sour cream and butter and olives
and cheese and oodles of other delights on the kitchen floor.
He did what any alpha dog would do. He pounced on it and started
eating. My husband came in, studied the situation for a moment,
and decided that perhaps blobs of glorified baked potato werent
good dog food. He bent down to clean up the mess.
Texs mother had never taught him the venerable proverb,
Never beard a lion in its den or a grandmother in her kitchen.
than a speeding bullet, more powerful than Kryptonite, I swooped
down on my pup, flipped him over, pinned him to the floor in an
alpha dog roll over, and gave him a lecture on just exactly who
was the Alpha Dog in MY KITCHEN. Tex was stunned. When I finished
the lecture and released him, he reconceptualized. He assumed
a very submissive position and followed me around the kitchen
as I muttered imprecations on all who violated the sacred space
of a grandmothers kitchen.
that day, as Tex and I were walking and I was pulling weeds, I
looked down at Tex. He sat before me, ears pricked forward, eyes
glued to mine, waitingno, delightedto obey my next
am an ALPHA DOG!
the whole world is my kitchen!
Anderson lives on 20 acres at the end of a dead end road in
St. Clair County. She recently obtained her first Confederate
Rose plant and points with pride when it blooms, but as much as
she loves flowers, she is more famous as a "seed undertaker"
than gardener. She is more successful as a grandmother and wife
and mother, and to fill out her life, she works with her husband
in a nonprofit organization.