As it turned out I found myself being merry with my dogs, learning their language as I went along and they learning my language the same way I did. By paying attention to one another and experimenting with messages.
As I entered my second year with Ljúfur I felt a need to learn more. I had met so many persons in the world of dog training, I had browsed quite a number of books, skimmed many articles on the Net. I had met with numerous dogs in groups of people. If I had learnt anything it was this: No matter what people tell you, the only real knowledge comes from the dogs themselves.
At this time I had begun living with my sister. When Ljúfur came into my life I lacked the confidence and knowledge to rebuild and streangthen his psyche and keep another dog at the same time. Today my approach would be slightly different, but given the sircumstances I chose to give Káta to my sister. As we shared the same home and as my sister wished to participate in SAR training, it all felt very natural.
Káta and Ljúfur are both born in 2005. The first day they met they played like mad dogs for an hour or so. My friend Ragnar had been looking after Káta for a while, as I had been going through a messy break-up from an interesting female. Ragnar brought Káta to meet me and Ljúfur in the outdoors and we chatted while the dogs played together. From that day onward, though Ragnar had not payed any special attention to Ljúfur that day, every time he comes around Ljúfur greets him in the friendliest of ways. Somehow that day a lifetime friendship was formed. Another curious day is that since that day, Ljúfur and Káta have never fought over anything. They have always had, and maintained, a warm trusting friendship with mutual respect.
During that summer of 2007 more interesting things were going on. The previous year I had observed one dog-myth to be untrue. The oldest dog in the group is not the one calling the shots. It is the dog with the calmest cahones.
When Káta was two years old – three months before Ljúfur met us – she met a German Shepherd bitch who was three years old at the time. Now consider the size difference. Káta is 14 kg. a normal Sheffer bitch is between 30 and 35 kg. There met two dogs, one of them grown up and twice the size of the younger one who was just coming out of her teens. First after they met they played for a while, during witch Káta was veru unsure of herself as she was very aware of the larger dog being much stronger than she was. Before anyone realized it was Káta who assumed and maintained leadership of the two!
My observations with dogs since that day have reinforced this lesson: It is the dog with the calmer spirit and stronger willpower who assumes leadership in a dog pack. Never have I seen a dog ask another “what is your age?”
Káta is six years old now, and never has she met a German Shepherd her match.
Another lesson I learnt that summer was transference of leadership. I lived in the same flat as my sister. Ljúfur and Káta lived with us and Káta had been my dog since she was a puppy. It took her only one month to realize that I wasn’t her leader anymore but my sister was.
I kept a home with my sister for the next three years and never, not once, did Káta show any hint of doubt as to who was her leader. In fact when my sister moved to Denmark in the summer 2010 it took bot of us, me and Káta, more than three months to re-transfer leadership back to me. It amazed me how keen awareness a dog has, and I have also seen reinforcement of this lesson, a dog can easily transfer leadership between two humans in the same home “if that is the wish of the owners”.
This fact of the dog psyche propagates to other levels of dog training: A dog will always if possible tune in to the will of his leader and it is the primary responsibility of a human dog leader to gently but firmly make his will known.
I found my self a year later faced with a difficult choice. I had come to realize that there wasn’t much to be learnt from other humans in my society, except from a select few very experienced trainers. What I wanted to learn more was as much as possible from dogs natural way of thinking, observing, living and learning. The only move forward would be to establish a dog pack!
As I was immersed in SAR training I concluded that my first entry into a dog pack would be a blending of Border Collie and Labrador Retriever. Both breeds are excellent SAR dogs, easy to train, easy to live with, yet with distinguishable traits. A mix of both traits would be excellent choice to add to my descent from the world of humans to the joyous world of dogs.
Soon I met with Salka.