It has been a long road but Luke has finally reached the pinnacle and is the king of his domain. Yep, Luke is the Alpha dog in the house. At 12 years old he has lost most of his bad behaviors along the trail and what we are left with is a mellow and loving yet very confident guy. Luke has always been a pusher, he tried to push his way to the top from the get go. But he had quite a few undesirable behaviors so he was left at the bottom of the totem pole for 11 long years. It was a conscious decision on my part and a good one. Luke was far too reactive and head strong in his young days to take the lead role. He tried hard for a long while to establish his dominance with Jessie but I made it very clear that the top dog position was hers.
Being the top dog in this house simply means that he gets to establish toy acquisition and prime real estate, that's about it. He can show Elsa a thing or two when she pushes his buttons with her juvenile behavior but is where it ends. Really the true top alpha position in the house is mine and that is how it should always be. Luke has waited over the years to have someone he can be the boss of. This is his moment to shine and he is doing that. He has aged like a fine wine and is now perfection. Luke has amazing patience and tolerance for Elsa's nonsense as a youngster and allows her to get away with things that he would have never tolerated in his youth.
I sat watching them play last night; no need for television when I have these two; they are entertainment in itself. Elsa has a great deal of respect for Luke; so much that even when her mouth is actually around a toy she is watching his every eye movement for permission. Last night she was grovelling for a toy and he had decided to take a stand with it. They were playing but the play had great meaning. With Luke aging and Elsa becoming bigger and much stronger than Luke he has to use subtle techniques to achieve his dominance. Both dogs were lying on the ground, Luke had possession of the toy and Elsa wanted it. She came in under his head and had her mouth on it but with his eyes and ears he told her that she was not allowed to have it. She slowly backed away and stared at him as he happily chewed the toy.
Elsa is as I have stated many times before a master at reading body language. She is highly intelligent but very wise as well. If she has any doubts she will not just run into a situation blindly. She will test the waters first. I have tested her with my own signals and she has never failed to read them correctly. So when Luke means business she immediately knows. Although he is pretty much a push over she knows how far she can push him. Even though he has never, ever been severely mean or grouchy at her. He speaks softly but with big volume in Elsa's eyes. She has given Luke a different kind of respect right from the start and I believe it is because he is a male.
Of course I have to step in every so often. If Elsa gets too excited she could actually injure Luke at this point. He is pretty frail as he is losing muscle mass far too quickly. Because of his loss of strength he is learning to be more serious in his posturing. He never speaks too loud and Elsa picks up on every message.
Their relationship is an amazing one and as pushy and confident as Elsa is; she has a depth of respect for Luke that is surprising at her young age. I love to watch the two of them interact. Luke is typically beyond tolerant of her nonsense and very rarely will scold her. If he does it is simply done by body posture and a huge inward air growl, scary, loud and full of meaning. His play is much rougher than his feedback. This is how it should be, this is canine pack behavior at its best. They are at the moment, curled up very closely on the bed sleeping.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone.