The Call of the Piper

I was raised with wolves. Okay, maybe not wolves. More like Shelties and German Shepherds. We had more than a dozen roaming our property in the woods of rural Missouri.  My baby pictures mostly feature me in a puddle of puppies. I know pack behavior, and I’ve always known that I was an Alpha. Until Piper joined our family. She often challenges my Alpha status. She’s also drawn to four-legged friends. Piper has never met a dog she didn’t love. In one of my favorite baby pictures of Piper she is curled up under the belly of our friend’s dog, Cocoa. Piper had climbed under their kitchen table to cuddle. Cocoa was trying to get some space from her, so Piper held on like a baby kangaroo trying to climb into its mama’s pouch. Cocoa just swept the floor with Piper attached.

Last weekend we went to visit our friend’s farm house in rural Maryland. They brought along their dog, Leo, and Piper spent most of the day trying to be his best friend.

She got to feed Leo his dinner, which she hasn’t stopped talking about since. Leo took a run through the cow pasture and smeared himself good with manure. Piper thought it made him more attractive. When I suggested that she give Leo a little space, Piper growled at me for the first time “Back Off, Mom!”  I was stunned. Piper has a strong will, but she’s never asserted herself so vehemently against mine. A part of me wanted to cheer her on. Another part of me wanted to hump her back into submission. Leo raised his liquid brown eyes to watch. I opened my mouth to bark back…then stopped. She was right. Leo and she were fine. I didn’t need to intrude. An Alpha doesn’t have to fight every battle. Just the right ones. Piper and Leo let the porch door snap shut behind them as they went off to explore.