My story, faithful friend, happy companion – a dog.

Zac’s Pack

This is what I call my family. It has changed through the years and I guess it will continue to change. Of course now my pack is also linked to Beloved and she seems to have a real difficulty in holding on to her family. She’s very careless that way.

I started life in a small pack. There was Whimpers and my other brother (The Princess’s father) and for a short time my mother.

I didn’t see much of my father, he was what the people like to call an absent father. He was distant. In fact we have a rather shameful secret in our family which may account for his disinterest, my father was also my uncle. Yes, that’s right, he was my mother’s son. Beloved believes that is why I have some health problems, but that’s a discussion for another morning.

This morning I have been out, met my pals on the reserve and thought a little bit about families and how ours has changed, grown in some ways, shrunk in others.

When I first joined Beloved and her pack there was Beloved, her beloved and number 2 son. Number one son was nearby and called in a lot. We also had regular visits from Beloved’s parents and their pack. I like to call Beloved’s father Team Leader. He just has that indefinable charisma for us dogs. He gets us. He used to take me out with his pack, Bella and Bijou and we would go and have sausages. Beloved wasn’t always happy about that because I have always had a delicate constitution, but Team Leader understood how important these outings were and he understood how much I loved sausages. I can never see him now without my mouth watering and my nose remembering that delicious smell, but we don’t go for sausages anymore, not since Bella went away.

Bella and Bijou were the luckiest. They lived with Team Leader all the time. They were an unlikely pair. Bella was a huge Standard Poodle, tall, blonde and with the longest legs, I loved her from the first time I saw her, she was a real stunner. She just bowled me over and I was smitten. I will always love her.

Bijou was small and silver and getting on a bit when I first met her. Strangely enough it was Bijou who called the shots when we dogs got together. What Bijou said went. But sadly Bijou got sick and went away. I miss her, she was gentle and never seemed to mind when I jumped around and wanted to play, she’d just wag her tail and explain that she didn’t run like she used to but that she didn’t mind if I jumped over her, or cuddled up to her for a nap.

After Bijou sent away Devon came. It’s not that I don’t like Devon, it’s just that we haven’t really been able to find common ground. I’ve heard that he has something traumatic in his background and finds it hard to fit into a pack. With Bella there it wasn’t so bad, but when Bella went away too I was heartbroken. So was Devon. We tried to comfort him and be a pack to him but he snarled and barked so we gave up. He comes to visit a lot but he never plays and if I walk near him he snarls. He clearly wasn’t brought up very well because it is MY house, but I know Beloved doesn’t want me to react rudely to him so I swallow the insult and ignore him, at least I have better manners.

When I first joined Beloved I was alone, the only dog that is. I loved Beloved and her family. I loved it when number one and number two sons came by and if they stayed over for a while that was even better. I got all the cuddles, lots of playtime and lots of laps to sit on. Sometimes Beloved’s beloved would go away for a short time and then I really got lots of cuddles and spoiling.

Of course being alone did have some disadvantages. It meant that I could never get away with anything. If I got caught short for some reason, they always knew that puddle was mine but it also meant that I got to play with all the toys the way I wanted to. My favourite toy was big dog, he was a special toy and he was my nighttime comfort too because that was the other problem with being such a small pack and the only dog, I was alone quite a bit. At night I would sleep alone and if Beloved had to go out I was alone. Sometimes that would upset me, I didn’t like being alone.

But it was great to have all the attention. When I was feeling sad, or a little frightened I never had to compete for Beloved’s attention, she was all mine. It never occurred to me that it might change one day.

But then came Zena, The Princess. All of a sudden I wasn’t alone any more. For the first week it was great. I had someone to play with whenever I wanted and because I was bigger and could jump on the chair, when I was tired I could always get away from her. At night it was fun to have someone to curl up with and not be in the big room by myself (Beloved has never let me sleep on the bed).

We had a lot of fun together, and it was good to go out on walks and run side by side. But pretty soon I realised that I didn’t have the same peace and privacy that I’d had before and I missed that. I also missed getting all the attention from Beloved. At that point I would have been happy if Beloved had taken The Princess away, but despite all of my imploring looks, she stayed. My life had changed forever. Suddenly I had to be the responsible one. When The Princess went out she would run ahead and I had to run to keep up and watch out for her, make sure she didn’t get lost or meet another dog who might be rough with her. I have to say it made me a bit stressed.

My human pack was changing too. Sons number one and two would go away and disappear for long periods of time and sometimes it was just the four of us with Team Leader and his pack visiting occasionally. I missed the sons when they are away and Beloved did too.

Then a short time ago Beloved’s number one son got married and added to the pack significantly. We like his wife, she’s always got a gentle word to say and has a nice laugh and she brought M into our life and she is the best.

M is 7 years (just a little bit older than The Princess and just a little bit younger than me). She is fun. She and Princess are made for each other. The Princess gets so excited when she sees her and likes to play with her which means I get some peace so I’m really pleased to see her too!

The Princess is always trying to sleep on her bed which is not allowed but she has sneaked in sometimes in the middle of the night.

As I mentioned Beloved does have a problem hanging onto her pack, because no sooner does number one son get married and visit, number two son goes away and we don’t see him. We miss him, though sometimes when I’m sitting in the room I seem to hear his voice, I just can’t find him or smell him, it’s very strange.

Most mornings we go to the reserve and I have my pals to talk with. The aches and pains in my muscles are a little worse now than they used to be and I don’t run much any more, but I like to sit and talk and we often chat about our packs.

One of them came from a huge pack and the stories she told me made me thankful that I belong to a small pack even if I do have to put up with The Princess. It is already difficult with two of us competing for Beloved’s lap, any more would be a disaster. She seemed to like having lots of pals to run with, play with and sometimes if there were quarrels different members of the pack would take her side, or protect her when she was frightened, but she did admit that sometimes she just wished she could have some one on one attention.

There is nothing I can do about my pack size (that trip to the vet when I was little, so embarrassing) so I make the best of what I have and I guess there are positives and minuses of being in a small or a large family. On the whole I think I am a lucky dog. I have a pack where I can get all the attention I want most of the time and then sometimes it gets bigger and I can enjoy the fun until I get tired. I do wish I could share the responsibility of The Princess with a few others, but that is not to be and as long as Beloved is there to deal with her I can cope.

I am used to a quiet life now and I imagine that the rough and tumble of a large pack wouldn’t suit me, but maybe if I had been used to it I would have thought being in a small pack was as sad as some of my friends do.

So that is my thought for the day and now having had my breakfast and my walk I shall curl up close to Beloved (elbowing The Princess out of the way) and enjoy the peace and quiet of a nap, something that might be hard to do in a large pack.

PS: I am the one sitting on the chair, The Princess is lying on the arm – she thinks she has the best spot, I know she doesn’t.

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