As I was thinking about our hike on New Year’s Day, I was struck as I noticed what a cohesive group our dogs have become with us. It’s not a surprise that Küster and Mr. Taleteller are a tight unit, nor that Bunny and I are. We work and train together quite a bit. You do start learning how to read each other after a bit of time spent that way.
Flattery, of course, is the swing vote. We both spend time training her, often to our own frustration. When it’s a Greyhound only outing, she usually goes with Mr. Taleteller while Bunny goes with me because, quite frankly, Bunny won’t have it any other way. When Küster is with us, though, Flattery goes with Bunny and me. She will spend her time walking in the middle to make herself included in both groups, and if the need arises, she can go with the boys and be just fine for a little while.
The group dynamics really struck me on the hike, though, possibly because we haven’t been on an outing like that in a while because of my foot. It had been awhile since I’d seen them in action, but honestly, I’m not sure they were ever such a tight knit group before. Küster is a typical Shepherd in that he does have to do a head count every so often. While Mr. Taleteller would walk off into the far blue yonder without a thought about where we were behind him, Küster looks back and checks on us about every ten paces. At twenty to thirty paces ahead, he will actually double back to get us closer together.
Flattery does her part, too. While the guys are walking ahead of us, she’s out in front as far as she can go, doing her best to keep up with them. She doesn’t pull on the leash, but she doesn’t usually leave any slack, either. It’s clear that she prefers not to be left behind and she reminds me of a nosy kid who is always afraid they’re going to miss some part of someone else’s business.
Then there’s Bunny, happy to bring up the rear, and always keeping her eye on me. She makes sure we take time to sniff the daisies, see the sights and enjoy our time together out in nature. She is not concerned about being left behind on the trail. Oh no! She is the pacesetter, which it turns out is good for me and my asthma. Bunny pretends to be engrossed in her surroundings, but the truth is that she is always keeping an eye on me. Her concern isn’t global, it’s centered on what matters to her. It’s also interesting to note that even though she takes the back spot in the line, she is quick to step up and be a leader to show the other dogs how to do something. When Flattery hesitated on the log crossing over the creek, Bunny hopped up and walked right over like a tiny ballerina. And darned if Flattery didn’t follow right along after seeing Bunny do it.
Through it all, we’re in it together, but everybody seems to have their own niche in the group. I have no idea how they appoint themselves these jobs, but somehow, they have all taken on their perfect roles and operate like a well oiled machine. It made me think that if we people organized ourselves into our jobs as easily that things might be a lot easier at times. I have to admit that I love it when our dogs take a moment to make us better humans.