Once again, time has a way of slipping by and I haven’t realized how long it has been since I did an entry. Lots of thoughts running around my brain but I just haven’t had a chance to get them down on paper. With the change to standard time, I find myself in darkness after work way too soon. As I stated before, standard time is not for running dogs if you’re a working person. I wish the powers that be would keep Daylight Savings Time year-round.
When the females were going through their seasons, I spent a good bit of time thinking about pack dynamics, not only in the field but also in the kennel. Back when I was in college, I took a summer class in biology. Dr. Baker, my Biology professor, spent almost the entire semester discussing wolf pack behavior. Dr. Baker was an outdoorsman, had a small gentleman’s farm, and loved to hunt and fish. We got along great! Another advantage of summer classes was their class size. We had maybe 12 students in the class which enabled a lot of one-on-one time. Since that summer, I have thought a great deal about pack dynamics and pack behavior of our domesticated wolves, our beagles.
It is amazing to me how fast the hounds will figure out their packmates. They know hound body language as well as voice of the other members of the pack. I have said in the past, the longer the dogs are down, the more they will tell you. Some hounds work better together with certain hounds and some can be down with anything at all and they can take control of that pack. I always find it interesting to see where the young hounds fall in once they get some running time in with the pack. No matter what, I enjoy studying the hounds in the field and how they fall into their place. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a squabble in the field.
Squabbles in the kennel are much more frequent. It is sometimes tough to watch an Alpha hound (I am the real Alpha of the pack) be contested and replaced or that dominant hound in the kennel be challenged by an up and coming young hound. Maybe it’s just my hounds, but I have many more issues with females. Occasionally I will see a tail up & quivering and I just know all hell is about to break out. Posturing, ear set, tail and voice all give away a lot of what is about to happen. I tell people I don’t usually have issues at feeding time but that doesn’t mean I don’t have issues. Sometimes just a sniff the wrong way can set a hound off. I think placement in their sleeping quarters plays a role in the donnybrooks that break out on occasion. Hormones also play a key role and I often go back to the wolf pack behavior that I studied some 30 years ago. Beagles have a fearless streak in them, a stubborn streak, and a competitive spirit that I definitely don’t want to be without but there are times when I would really like to contain some of that high-spiritedness! As I was telling my friend Bob, some hounds are full of jet fuel (Izzy & Tiana) and are always on the brink of combustion. Then there are others that are never in any friction whatsoever. But on occasion I am surprised by the hounds that appear meek, will be the first to be on top of the pile. Sometimes a stern voice will stop and squelch the tension. Sometimes it takes a bit more. Sometimes a hound needs to be put in “solitary confinement” for a bit to cool her engines.
I’m not going to say that I have a kennel full of fighters because I don’t, but it is an evolving, constantly changing dynamic that leads to pack harmony.