The Alpha Dog
Every dog pack has its alpha dog, and our five-dog pack is no exception. Jesse, named after the outlaw Jesse James, was a shelter stray, captured without a collar or tag, running through a neighborhood. He had clearly escaped from someone’s yard, and when he was caught and taken indoors, promptly hiked his leg on the nice rescuer-lady’s sofa. The nice rescuer-lady took him to the pound…
I adopted Jesse the day after he was neutered, and thought that perhaps his urge to run would be lessened without his male hormones. But, no, Jesse is just a runner. If he escapes from the yard, which he has only done a few times, he is on the lam until he runs out of steam. At first, we would chase him, and he would stop and look at us and be off again – what a great game! Now that he is older and knows where home is, he comes home on his own. Regular meals and a warm bed are great motivators, it seems.
Jesse takes his responsibilities as alpha dog very seriously. He keeps the other dogs in line with a quick snap if they don’t behave according to pack protocol. He patrols the yard, and when Sadie sounds her “intruder alert” bark, is the first one out the doggie door to check on things. He takes on dogs much larger than he when they come on “his turf”. He is every inch a macho boy-dog, a dog’s dog, even if he is a dachshund.
As a standard dachshund, he is a big boy, with an astonishing amount of prey drive. Many may know that dachshunds were bred to dig into badger holes and drag them out, no easy task I would imagine. There are still “ground dog” trials, where dachshunds are timed at how quickly they can find a rat in a cage at the end of a series of tunnels. Their sense of smell is as remarkable as any hound, and no squirrel or other small prey is safe once Jesse has them in the crosshairs. He and Mike’s dog Maggie make quite the hunting team. They keep asking for climbing spikes for Christmas to be able to chase their prey into the trees…
But, like all bad outlaws, Jesse has a tender side. He gets cold and loves to sleep under his blanket, can only eat special dog food “for sensitive systems”, and screams like a girl when you even get near him with the nail scissors. He has never been lacking in self-esteem, however, never met a black plastic garbage bag that he didn’t mark, and would be fierce to defend any member of his pack from attack. He is never needy and is noticeably more independent than the other dogs. It is quite an honor when he climbs in your lap for love.
I read where dogs can recognize a nickname, in addition to their own name, and somewhere along the line, Jesse got the nickname “Bubba” (which, for those not from the South, is Southern slang for “brother”), which he responds to in addition to “Jesse”. Bubba is getting older and his muzzle is starting to grey, but as long as his little legs can carry him, I expect he will be a runner and “a bad outlaw”.