We are aren't we? Our dogs are most definitely family; but our dogs also are a family unto themselves, if you have more than one that is. They are a dog family. Of course depending on the closeness of your pack will factor in on the family issue. My dog family which consists of only two now are very much a family; a very close family. When I watch them interact with each other there is absolutely no denying it. We now have an extended family member who is at this point just that, extended. She will become a closer member as she matures but right now there is much for her to prove to become a full fledged member.
Watching Penny try to wriggle herself into the pack is very interesting. It is wonderful to watch Elsa trying to teach Penny things when she is messing with her family. As I wrote before; Penelope is drawn to Luke. Luke is not drawn to Penny. So when Elsa hears Luke growling she comes charging from wherever she is and tries her hardest to get Penny off of Luke and then distract her. Elsa gets quite frantic in her mission to get the puppy away from Luke; she's not quite sure how to do it but she manages. She tries grabbing Penny's scruff but doesn't want to really grab it so it is more of a muzzle pushing away action, fascinating.
The other day when we were at the park walking with a big pack of dogs; one of the woman told us a story of her canine family of three working together. She'd been to the dog park when one of her dogs became the victim of some aggression. The two other members who were on the other side of the park came running into position. Each took up one side of the aggressor and ran away with it. This was enough to distract the dog and all was well. Amazing.
I watched a pack behavior very much like this; albeit more intense at a shoot one time. We were done our shoot; it had been a great one and we were heading out. As we prepared to go up the ramp to leave, a pit bull came out of no where; launching itself onto one of the dogs I'd been shooting and sunk his teeth in. The attacker hung on as the victim tried to free himself. Then the victims big brother heard the ruckus and flew into action. He was a very big brother; a Saint Bernard or Akita mix breed. He grabbed the attacker who then let go of the smaller dog. The big dog through the pit bull to the ground and stood over him. It was amazing to watch and I will never, ever forget it.
The dog who saved the day had been a street dog; saved from the streets of LA and brought in to be a family member with two Sloughi; (very much like a Greyhound with floppy ears) a female and a male. They had bonded amazingly and at that very moment their bond was intense and unbreakable. The big male did not use anymore force than was needed; he simply saw a problem and fixed it. The pit bull ran off and we headed home. The owner did take her Sloughi to the vet where he had needed several stitches. No the owner of the pit bull did not pay; and he gave the wrong number to the owner of the injured dog. Pretty typical for people who knowingly have aggressive dogs.
Seeing dogs act so instinctively and supporting their canine pack is really spectacular although quite a normal canine behavior. If a pack is a good pack; meaning that they truly get along it can be a force to be reckoned with. But sometimes we throw dogs together that don't mesh and we force the issue which can then cause stress and an unnatural unease within it. More on the wrong pack in another blog.