Reggie was a big dog–part German Shepherd and, judging by the black spots on his tongue, part Chow–but he was a gentle beast. He was calm, hardly barked, didn’t jump. He did what he was told and was an all-around good dog sitting client.
Reggie’s great joy in life was going on walks. Most of the day he lounged around the house on one of his beds or in the sunshine in the side yard, but when it was time for our morning or evening walk, he got super excited. He’d do a sort of prancing dance with his front paws while looking at me with a glimmer of excitement in his otherwise placid brown eyes.
On our first walk together, I discovered the yards of the neighborhood were populated with barking, snarling, growling dogs who foamed at the mouth and leaped onto the fences keeping them in their yards and out of the streets. Reggie did nothing to engage these neighbor dogs. He didn’t bark or growl at them or try to move into their territory. If he pulled on the leash, it was to go to the opposite side of the street and away from the neighbor dogs. If he made any noises, they were more whimpers than barks. The other dogs seemed to distress him more than antagonize him.
One day I asked The Man if he and his dog Jerico wanted to go on a morning walk with me and Reggie. They did, so we took off together through the neighborhood.
Jerico is a good dog, but he’s not calm, and he’s not quiet. Part beagle, Jerico is a talker, a barker, a howler. He’s got a lot to say. He also pulls against his leash and zigzags back and forth in front of the person walking him.
Reggie was super excited to be out on a walk with his friend. There was a lot of prance dancing on Reggie’s part, and a lot of tangled leashes caused by the two dogs running around and cutting in front of and behind each other.
Jerico is not timid. Apparently, he’s not afraid to take on any dog who wants to fight. When we came upon the first group of barking, snarling, growling neighbor dogs, Jerico didn’t back down in the least. He certainly didn’t slink off to the opposite of the street and whimper. No way! Jerico joined the barking chorus, and he would have been right up on the fence engaging with the captives had The Man not held him back. I’ve known Jerico for a while, so his behavior didn’t surprise me.
It was Reggie who surprised me. Gone was the whimpering, timid dog I’d been walking for the last week. In his place was a brave, bold dog. Reggie didn’t try to run to the far side of the street. Instead, he stayed next to Jerico and even barked a little while looking over at the neighbor dogs.
I don’t know if Reggie was showing off for Jerico, showing Jerico that he too could be bold. Maybe he felt as if Jerico had his back, thus making it safe for him to be brave. I wish I understood what dogs think. In any case, Reggie was a whole new dog while his friend Jerico was by his side.
That was the Pack Mentality in action. Dogs are natural pack animals, and that’s how they hunt. While many dogs are aggressive alone, many others aren’t so bold when they’re alone.
You’ve seen videos of this in humans (esp young male humans), where a pack of ten or so will attack a single person. Most of them wouldn’t have the guts to do it by themselves. It’s called ‘swarming’ with humans.
Reggie sounds like a nice dog. I hope Jericho doesn’t ‘contaminate’ him — his owners won’t appreciate it.