Friday, August 3, 2012

True Leadership can be learned from ageing Matriarchs...

MAXMOM here...

A chilly morning.  I sneak back into bed, to write a note, before the day gets into full swing.  In the corner, Tammy and Toby stare despondently at me.  Their day always starts earlier than mine, but they have to wait, patiently, for sleep to dissipate and for me to feed them.  I reach for my diary.

These two Goldens have such a beautiful, considerate relationship.  Tammy is bordering on twelve years old now and is an old, gracious lady.  Most of the time she's slow and arthritic, except for when she hears the words "BISCUITS!" or "WALKIES" which will prompt her to beat any young whippersnapper to the finish line.  It's at those times that she's earned the nickname,

"Miss no arthritis".

 I marvel at the bond between these two dogs -  TOBY (two years old) and the matronly TAMMY.  He's so much stronger and bigger than her, yet she guides him like an orchestra's conductor.  A small glance will morphe him from explosive energy into a calm (albeit huge) puppy which is lying on its back for motherly inspection.  Toby's energy is always brimming over, so she regularly pacifies him by playing with him.  She commands this game too - from a rooted, standing position - biting his paws and mouthing his neck.  Happy snarls tell of a deep bond between the two.

Depending on how Tammy feels, the game may last up to five minutes before the old matriarch calls it a day. It will happen in one of two ways: either she'll give a visible full body "shake" or you'll simply notice that she's lifted her head and looked in the other direction - all but ignoring him.  He may continue prompting her, but will eventually settle to lowering his head and his gaze  ... then slide onto his side to lie quietly. He has total respect for her.

What a nurturer she's been over the past two years!  Canine leadership traits are fascinating. Take a moment to watch their display and you'll learn so much. True leaders are not loudly vocal, but quiet and confident.  Their body language tells it all - they know how to live their life and others try to mimic their wisdom.  

Tammy may have been the runt of her litter (all those years ago) but she is a true canine leader.  She's respectful of those she depends on and patient and firm in what she wants.  She'll wait at the door for hours, simply insisting - quietly - that she wants to enter a domain.  She'll pacify the younger pups - understanding that their energy needs direction.  She'll lie in the sun, absorb its energy and pace her ageing.  She'll also exercise discipline - her own (by not pulling on the lead and being the most perfect walking companion), as well as handing it out to others (Toby, don't attempt to approach her food bowl!).  Like all leaders, Tammy has firm boundaries.

So, as I watch their display of bonding in the corner of my bedroom, I know that Tammy has taught Toby well.  Her nurturing has been perfect.  When she, too, eventually leaves us, her job will have been well done.  She's been the perfect guide to our sweet young 'Sweet Hooligan'.


Sending lots of love to all my friends around the world. 
 I know that many of us are thoroughly enjoying the Olympics and the amazing British hospitality.  It's one of my prime excuses for my regular cyber-absence.
For now, the telly calls...

Oh yes, before I forget, I'd like to wish my beautiful daughter, Miss 'J'....

A very, very happy birthday!


Bouncing Bertie said...

Happy birthday from us too, Miss 'J'.

This blog post has made me want to rush out and acquire a second dog. (Don't worry, I won't, I'm not an impulsive person!) But it must be so fascinating to watch how two dogs interact. And those photos, especially the first, are simply wonderful.

And then "True leaders are not loudly vocal, but quiet and confident." Fitting for humans too, I think.

Finally, it's great to read that so many people around the world are enjoying 'our' Olympics. It even makes me feel a wee bit proud to be British for once.


How Sam Sees It said...

Happy Birthday, Miss J!

You know, when we got Monty we thought Sam would be the dominant one and help us bring Monty around. Instead, the two barely look at each other and hardly interact. We've never figured it out. We wish they would!


Amber DaWeenie said...

Happy Birthday from Florida too, Jenny.

Tammy is a wonderful teacher!

Millie and Walter said...

Happy Birthday to Miss J. Tammy is such a sweet old girl and a wonderful teacher for Toby.


Two French Bulldogs said...

Oh my goodness so darn cute. Happy Burthday lady
Benny & Lily

Gail Wilson said...

It has been interesting to watch the interaction betweet MIstaya and the new addition of puppy Maggie. Right away it appeared that Mistaya shared what we call the rules of the house with Maggie. And Maggie has never had an accident in our house. Mistaya seemed to teach her everything that she knows and they continue to live extremely well together. But Mistaya does have a way of just looking at Maggie that can send the young one the other directions. We call it Mistaya's "Stink Eye" really works on little Maggie.

Hugs, Gail

Tweedles -- that's me said...

Happy, happy happy birthday Miss J from my corner of the world to yours!

I think Tammy learned a lot from Max Dog too. She is so patient, and just seems to know what she needs to do to teach. Perhaps Maxdog is guiding her along her journey. Perhaps she is listening, and sharing with Toby.
Of course Toby listens very carefully.
Tammy is full of wisdom, patience and love.


sprinkles said...

Happy Birthday to your daughter!

It seems like Toby has made Tammy seem younger. When I brought Shiver home as a puppy, I honestly think he aged my fox terrier.

Dexter said...

I think puppies often learn to respect the senior dog because the dog was so big and scary at first. Of course I have no doubt that Tammy is in charge.

Mango Momma

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

I hope your daughter had an enjoyable birthday!!

I really enjoyed reading about Tammy, because you have also described our matriarch Wendy perfectly--Our girls are true gems, aren't they?

Scout and Freyja said...

Tammy is wise and wonderful. A great surrogate mother. It's kinda sad that just when our dogs (and some humans) develop into great teachers and friends the Circle of Life approaches. Wishing Miss Tammy many more years of happiness and sunshine.

Mrs. JP said...

Tammy is such a love. You are absolutely right about pack leaders not needing to be vocal they simply are the leaders.
Have a great day, sending love and blessings to you from the holler.

kks said...

love this post! We can learn so much from our dogs!