This past week we have added a new member to our family of seven. And before anyone starts to think I am pregnant or just delivered Baby #6, the newest member of our clan is a Yellow Labrador puppy. It’s our first family pet, aside from the fish or occasional snake we find. Our family is truly coming together in new and fun ways in order to play with, clean up after, train and teach this little pup. It’s been such a treat to watch her interact and learn new things.
I admit, I was a little more than nervous bringing a dog into the family. When I was a young girl a big black, neighborhood dog pounced on me and my bike, knocked me over and took a good hard bite. Ever since, dogs that were any bigger than a poodle really did send me into panic mode. Deep down I am hoping if we start with a puppy, and she and I become fast friends, I will ease out of my fear into real confidence when it comes to dogs.
In my effort to become fast friends, I have read the book, “Short Guide to a Happy Dog” by the ultimate author on dogs, yes, ‘The Dog Whisperer’, Cesar Millan, aka, ‘The Pack Leader’. Interestingly enough, he states that dogs are pack animals and crave leadership, they crave a Pack Leader. It gives them a sense of security and ease to know someone else is in charge. What a concept! When haven’t I seen the benefits in giving children security by the parents being the Pack Leader!
However there are some differences…and Cesar puts it so well in the book I just read. He talks about the differences between humans and animals. Humans have reason, have spirituality and animals have instinct. Sure we can train an animal, yet we are training their instinct to respond to a certain call, not because they have thought through the reasons to obey or not to obey. They are instinctual creatures that we can, by being the ‘Pack Leader’, keep them calm, submissive and feeling secure at all times….thus creating the harmony we seek between human and dog.
As I began to exert my confidence and attitude of leadership of the pack, for our puppy’s sake, something dawned on me. Humans also crave leadership. It is human reason and passion that makes things complicated. We have a choice to follow or not, regardless of our instinct, you know, free will and all. On the flip side, at times, to be the leader, we must overcome our own fears. My fear is yes, getting bit yet again, but how many times have we seen the ‘biting’ that competition brings, socially or corporate. Perhaps we fear we will fail, better yet, we fear success.
Being a ‘Pack Leader’, of the family or otherwise, isn’t about me anymore, it’s about others. It’s about helping the family or the pet or co-workers grow in their learning, until ultimately they have a self confidence of their very own. As the leader we set the stage, we portray confidence, positive energy about life in general: optimism. Fear has no place here.
Our energy impacts others. Our emotional state impacts those around us. Nervousness, anxiety, being stressed out or tempers will not only put others in an insecure state, it de-values our status as leader, and encourages others to choose otherwise. Leaders not only control themselves and their emotional state, they portray a confidence to others, lead others to security and safety.
In our society, I know I am not over-reaching when I state we have leaders and followers. For some, comfort comes with knowing someone else is in charge. For Pack Leaders, comfort comes knowing they are leading others. As Catholics, or Christians, we don’t have the luxury of being followers in our day and age. We must constantly assure others and perhaps ourselves that security and hope comes from real place, a place of Faith. We crave leadership, at times assume it ourselves, look for it in others, but in the end, true harmony that we seek, is knowing, loving and serving a real and loving God…the ultimate Leader of the Human Pack.