This afternoon we fought rush hour traffic north out of Charlotte for two hours (how do people do that?) to pick up the newest addition to our pack – a black-tri Australian Shepherd from a farm near Statesville. Because he’s from a farm, he’s from solid working stock. Because he’s an Australian Shepherd, he’ll fit right in with our pack. 

We like dogs. Not cats. Not rodents. Dogs. And since our first rescue 13 years ago (an Aussie), it's become obvious that I'm something like a dog whisperer. To me, it’s almost as natural as rearing children. With less back talk, even. 

Our 13-year-old dog is the kind of animal that anyone who only vaguely likes animals would gladly share their life with. After a couple of years with him, we fell in love with the breed and so to keep him company, we purchased one from a breeder after we moved to Charlotte. She's a healthy, studly animal that acts half her age and is an alpha bitch in every sense of the term. These two dogs have basically helped raise our daughters and are true shepherds of our family. 

Not to be forgotten, last summer we rescued Sammy Davis – the one-eyed wonder pug, or chihuahua, or alien depending your angle when you look at him. He’s pretty small so he hardly counts in terms of dog mass. Our best guess is that he was about 3-years-old when we snatched him out of death row. He's part of the pack, but his personality is more like a cat than a dog. Which is to say, he can take you or leave you – unlike the Aussies, who become physically depressed when we're not around. Plus, where Aussies pretty much read your mind, Sammy's mind kind of wanders. In fact, it used to wander under the fence, before he was snipped. 

And so today we brought this new Aussie into our lives. He’s from a breeder too. That wasn't an easy decision for us, but we wanted our daughters to have the opportunity to help raise an Aussie pup. 

Another reason we decided on the puppy is because they don’t let you keep ponies in the city (only the best for my kids by God.) Goats, sure, but we’ve got a really nice yard. Additionally, with nearly a half an acre (fenced) in an urban area, we’ve got ample room to keep these animals happy and healthy.  

But mostly, we got this pup because of our first dog. As the alpha male, he’s had a tremendous influence on the other two. On Monday, I thought I was going to have to put him down. Last year at this time the vet gave him three months – so he’s due. I keep waiting for a sign. This puppy is like his swan song in a way. Even without being very mobile, it’s clear that he’s the alpha. It’s said that the influence of an older dog on a puppy is tenfold that of a human. I couldn't hand-pick a better influence, so we're taking advantage of it while we can. 

For anyone who might think it’s gross living with so many animals, maybe it is. But our dogs have never had flea one, and I’m pretty sure our space is probably cleaner and better organized than most people you know. I even have the rolls royce of scoopers. Call it a writer thing. I do. 

So here we are back in puppyhood again. It will be as fun as it is challenging. But thanks to genetics, we feel like we know what we're getting into.

Welcome to the pack, Strider. 


Jim Mitchem/@jmitchem


Posted via email from Jim's posterous

Because One Day I'll Forget
Pack Mentality

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.