Pack Leadership – Back Up to Go Forward

Posted on June 22, 2010


Kai, flat-coat/chow mix, and Rustle, miniature poodle

One weekend, I took my dogs to Grandview Park. It’s been wet here in Seattle (1″ more rain than last year, and 4F cooler), so they haven’t been getting much exercise. I wanted to take advantage of some slightly better weather, and they were a bit out of control. Because of their infrequent walks, they weren’t disciplined. In fact, they were a little wild. I had to chase Kai (the black dog in the photo), but fortunately he’s 13 and pretty easy to catch. They weren’t aggressive, they just weren’t responsive to commands.

The next weekend, my wife’s car was acting up so I drove her to work on Saturday morning. On the way home I stopped at the grocery store, and the fuel light came on in my car – meaning I was running low. After I put away the groceries, I loaded the dogs into the car and we drove to a gas station. On the way home, we stopped at Clark Lake Park. It’s not an off-leash park. I obeyed the law, and because of the threatening rain (it waited until we got home to actually rain) we had the park to ourselves.

On Sunday, we all drove my wife to work and then went to Grandview on the way back home. The boys were much better behaved than the previous weekend. I realized that I had done the canine equivalent of going back to basic athletic drills. No one likes doing drills, but every now and then a coach decides that his (or her) players need a refresher on the basics. Keeping my dogs on leashes in a habitat they weren’t used to (most years, I wouldn’t be in Clark Lake Park in June because of mosquitoes) forced them to remember their roles in the pack and how to behave in public.

We can’t be afraid to go back to the basics. It’s a good idea to routinely audit your team’s work, for example. We’re doing that to ourselves in my Local Census Office right now, in fact. Going back can help us go forward.