Reluctant Leader

Four and a half years ago when Kloe joined the pack Kali was seven and took an almost immediate role as surrogate mother to Kloe. To this day I am grateful that Kali’s maternal instincts activated almost immediately upon meeting Kloe as a nine-week old puppy. Within about an hour Kali went from the the “no way that puppy is coming in my house” stage to the “Ok little whippersnapper, I’ll show ya’ the ropes” stage. Within an hour Kloe was laying on a willing mommy Kali’s tummy and the bond grew stronger each day.

As The months passed Kloe grew in size. By the time she was six months old Kloe was already as big as Kali – 60 pounds – and much taller. By the time Kloe was 9 months old she was 80 pounds. During play Kloe would sometimes use her size advantage over Kali. But it was never aggressive and it was never in any effort to establish herself as the dominant or alpha female. It was more of a “if you’ve got it flaunt it” demeanor and only occasionally did I have to come to Kali’s aid as she got older and a little more fragile.

Kloe 9 months, Kali 8 years

Enter Koda two years ago. She joined the pack at four months and was full of energy piss and vinegar; she still is. Koda at four months old was 17 pounds. Kloe now two and a half was still around 80. Koda’s moxie was remarkable. She played hard often bouncing off of Kloe during rough play but getting right back up again and never backing down. I occasionally had to come to Kloe’s aid and protect her against her tough little sister! I recall thinking that by the time Koda was six months old she would establish herself as the alpha female.

Koda and Kloe

Kali, now nine, was slowing down and she never really had any interest in being in charge; unless it was in charge of food. Looking back Kloe was too young to be a surrogate mother to Koda like Kali was to her. I thought Kloe would be that surrogate but at just two and a half she was still very much a pup herself. So I began thinking that Koda was going to be the leader of this pack. From day one, and to this day, Koda always pushes herself to the front of the line (first out the door and first back in), steals toys from her older and bigger sisters, and makes her voice heard above all others. She vocalizes like no other dog I’ve ever been around. I’ve said it before, if she could actually talk her vocabulary would make Jon Gruden blush.

So yeah, Koda as the alpha. Made sense then and it still kind of does. But she’s not the Alpha. She wants Kloe to be the alpha dog but Kloe is a reluctant leader.

Kloe is a gentle soul (except when she see’s a cat). She really has no interest in being in charge. She has aways been a rule follower. Most dogs want to please their human mom and dad. Kloe takes this very seriously and if she could intellectualize it she would tell you that her sole purpose in life is to make Holly and I happy. Koda tends to get excited out of control at times. During those times we have to very direct with Koda and put her in a sit or down position to help her calm down. Kloe can be in a different room but if she hears one of us sternly tell Koda “SIT!” Kloe sits. If we say “Koda settle. DOWN!” Kloe immediately puts herself in a down position. So yeah, beyond all else she wants to please us.

Koda wants Kloe to be Alpha. In spite of Koda’s pushiness she looks to Kloe for her cues. If there is a deer or some other critter outside she runs to the door and looks back at Kloe as if to say, “should we go out and get that critter”? If I suggest that the girls go outside by opening the door Koda, of course, is first out. But if Kloe doesn’t follow Koda turns around and comes back in the house. And when Kloe sees or smells trouble in or around the property and runs off barking Koda follows her even though she – most of the time – has no idea what’s going on. But if her big sister is going she’s going to provide back up.

Koda wants Kloe to be Alpha. And while over times I have seen glimpses of it in Kloe it is with reluctance that she takes a leadership role in the pack. She is the logical choice. At almost five years Kloe is in her prime. She is all muscle. Her legs are fully repaired (thank God) from her Bi-lateral TPLO in August of 2019, and she once again runs like a gazelle. She is a sight to behold when “she is on the move”.

Fortunately (for us and them) our girls are spoiled to the max and there really is no need for an alpha dog. In the wild, Kali at 11 years with very bad hips and legs, would need a protector. Koda would need an alpha dog to dampen her “enthusiasm” when predators much bigger than her came calling. Kloe would be that logical choice. Would her gentle soul allow her to be that Alpha dog if it was necessary?

I’d like to think that Kloe would step up to the role and protect her sisters even if reluctantly. I also know that if she did, and when all was once again well with the pack, she would come looking for Holly and I to please us with her gentle demeanor and by doing whatever we asked of her.

Sweet Gentle Kloe

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5 Comments

Oh, Michael, your Golden Girls are beautiful!

Your story about Kali and Kloe reminds me so much of my own Golden Girls, Callie and Shadow (waiting for us, together, at the Rainbow Bridge). Callie was the first born of her litter, and almost from day one a “mother’s helper” and peacemaker. Even though she was only 8 months old when 7-week-old Shadow joined the family, Callie took on the surrogate mother role from day one. She protected Shadow, mothered her, and taught her all she needed to know. And when this little, black, demon dog named Ducky joined the family, Callie once again took on the peacemaker role. We lost her to lymphoma 5 years ago and Shadow attached herself to me for the remainder of her own life. I loved watching the two of them grow up together; and I’m so thankful to have so many pix of them over those years.

Happy New Year to you, Holly, and the Golden Girls. Give the GGs belly rubs for me, and kisses on their sweet noses.

It must be the name Callie/Kali no matter how you spell it. 🙂 Thanks for sharing about your Callie. Happy New Year to you and yours as well. My girls are always open to belly rubs; especially Koda who has no shame rolling onto her back and offering you her tender underside at any given time. I will make that special delivery of rubs and nose kisses on your behalf!

Those quiet, reflective leaders so often make the best kind. We humans would do well to imitate our pets more. Happy New Year to you, Holly and the Golden Girls with extra ear rubs for them to start the year out on a ‘pawsitive’ note.

HNY to you and the ranch hands. Thanks for your point about quiet leaders. I agree and that helps me to see Kloe in an even brighter light than before. Ear rubs will be delivered in large amounts to on your behalf.

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