There are always a few posts in my Draft file that are hanging fire, waiting for completion, contemplation, and publication. This one started when I began to find articles and whole books on the subject of, “Are Canines really Pack Animals?” The foremost writer is one Jean Donaldson, a best-selling author and “behaviorist”. http://www.jeandonaldson.com/jeans-blog-mainmenu-51/64-are-dogs-pack-animals
There are several others that are now espousing the theory that dogs are not Pack animals at all, and that current behavior theories are flawed in the extreme. All of these writers seem quite determined to beat it into us that “Dogs are not wolves!” A statement that has basis in fact. Our dogs truly are not wolves. But the discussion then takes a more “Targeted” tangent…aimed directly at those who train with Pack mentality firmly involved. Once again, when a certain methodology rises to prominence,( and financial success) there will always be those that seek their own rise by being contrarian, and controversial. Or making fun of those they see as a getting attention that they desire. So be it…Those without the ability to produce original thoughts need to make a living too…
The writer/poet Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem entitled, “The Law of the Jungle”, and it was a foundation stone for the epic story we know as “The Jungle Book.” It is the story of a young boy raised in the jungle by a wolfpack, and his eventual return to the family of man. It reads as follows, and is the basis for my contention that, even if dogs are not Pack animals, they are better off being in a Pack.
“Now this is the Law of the Jungle-as
old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may
prosper, but the Wolf
that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree
trunk, the Law runneth
forward and back
For the Strength of the Pack is the
Wolf, and the Strength of
the Wolf is the Pack.
– Rudyard Kipling
I have no formal education in biological or behavioral aspects of canids. In fact, I don’t understand my own behavior at times! I don’t consider myself an expert of dog behavior or training. I stand zero possibility of making a living from my opinion of what makes dogs tick. I understand even less of what makes humans the way that they are…But I do spend the majority of my time with my dogs, and several other dogs that I work with, and they teach me something everyday. Goodly portions of my time are also spent with people that don’t attempt to fit in with polite society, and end up in our nations penal system as inmates. This qualifies me to at least make an observation on both.
Jean Donaldson, the author cited and linked above, makes many of her suppositions based on dogs found in 3rd world, and otherwise developing nations in turmoil. Her observations state that dogs do quite well living alone, without structure or discipline or assistance of any kind. They are therefore, certainly not Pack animals. She also postulates that Wolves in the wild actively seek out, or form structures Packs, and are therefore true Pack animals. Both of these conclusions have basis in fact. But both conclusions are also filled with holes.
Regarding wolves, many individuals eschew pack life and strike out on their own for whatever reason. The National Geographic Society produced special, “Rise of the Black Wolf” is a compilative story of one such wolf. Black Wolf prefers life on the periphery of several packs, wooing females, and successfully passing on his genetics surreptitiously. He does eventually form a Pack, but abandons it several times for the solitude of oneness. The interesting thing is this: Black Wolf is never quite Normal. His method of living makes him quirky and disheveled. Secretive and unfocused, without direction. He needed the normalcy of a Pack.
The third world dogs that Donaldson observed, while certainly “Getting Along just Fine without a Pack”, were also described as ‘skittish, afraid and stand-offish’. This is not normal behavior. Dogs that live with a Pack, (Even if that pack is predominantly human) have a tendency to be far more stable and mentally well-adjusted.
Having opportunity to observe humans that have this “Lone Wolf” mentality, it has been noticed that they too appear different. I offer as evidence Mr. Ted Kaczynski. His story is one of separating from all contact that would demand the discipline and connection of the whole. Don’t misunderstand me…I’m not espousing a “Group-Think” mentality where we all walk in lock-step. I’m inclined to a Mountain-Shack surrounded by canned goods and firearms myself.