My wife and I live in the mountains of southern Colorado with our four German Shepherd Dogs. We have numerous wild animals visit almost on a daily basis and occasionally a wolf will be seen or the tracks from one. These animals are allusive and not often seen but we happen to love wolves and are delighted when we have an occasional visit.
We have a wolf refuge about an hours drive from us where wolves are kept in natural habitat and they are the purpose of this post. We have visited the wolf refuge many times over the 20 years we have lived here in our mountain hideaway. On one visit we made the decision to sponsor a wolf named Lucas.
This post is about Lucas and what he taught us. How do I start describing Lucas? I’m sure if the curator of the refuge reads this, he could amplify anything I write, but Lucas was a wild-looking black wolf who taught us a valuable lesson. Lucas had a pack within the refuge and he was the undisputed, unanimous alpha male. Some wolf packs will have young challengers who try to depose the alpha male and will fight for the position of alpha, especially when the alpha gets older and may be weaker or more vulnerable than the young upstart.
Lucas was the alpha of his pack until the day he died from old age. Lucas was unique in that he was so respected and esteemed by the pack that no one even considered challenging him. He was their choice, because he had a unique ability to love each member of the pack so deeply that none of the others could love as thoroughly as Lucas.
He was not the alpha because he was the biggest and strongest (although he was both) but due to his unfathomable love for the pack. When we would visit the refuge, we would go see Lucas and it was obvious he held an esteemed place within the pack.
Lucas with his special ability was the leader of the pack due to his deep and complete love for each pack member and none of the potential challengers could love like Lucas, so he was never challenged for leadership over the pack. What I specifically learned from Lucas is what a leader should be like.
You can lead by dominance and force but when the leader gets older/weaker the challenge will certainly be there. When you lead because you deeply love each of your pack members, you hold your leadership position by consensus of the pack. Lucas would defend any member of the pack against outsiders with every ounce of his great strength and would die before he would let any of his pack be attacked. Lucas demonstrated the finest attributes of a true leader.
Our pack of four German Shepherd Dogs know they are loved by both my wife and myself. We show our love for them every day numerous times. In a touch or kind word, we show them repeatedly how much they are loved. We pay close attention to their needs and happiness. There is no real hierarchy within our pack except two alphas — my wife and myself.
When people meet our pack, they inevitably comment how well behaved and friendly they are. That is true, but if someone would make any advance against us, they would likely see a different pack with the alphas leading the charge.
Lucas taught me that to be a true pack leader you need to love each member of the pack as if they were the only one. Our pack looks to us for guidance and direction because of what Lucas taught us many years ago. Lucas was a special wolf that had a powerful lesson to bestow on anyone who would take the time to learn. We can learn from numerous sources in life but if we are to really benefit from these valuable life lessons we need more examples like Lucas. We humans are not so superior that we can’t or shouldn’t learn valuable lessons from other species within the animal kingdom especially when the lesson is universal. Lucas knew what it took to be an outstanding leader and maintain peace and tranquility within the pack.
We have applied Lucas’ principal of leadership in our own pack and it works perfectly. On the rare occasion that we have to raise our voice to one of our pack members, it has instant results. The pack member realizes that their behavior is not acceptable and they make a quick correction. Even when correction is needed, they are never made to feel they are not a part of the pack and our pack maintains its stability with each member feeling important and loved.
Canines are creatures of habit and we make every effort to maintain that habit so they have consistency within the pack. I do not know about other breeds, but with German Shepherds, the margin of error can be very narrow. Because the breed has such high intelligence and excellent memories, it is best to be sincere with your love and never send mixed messages. They will pick up on insincerity or weakness quickly.
Leading by might and power or dominance is possible but when any weakness is displayed the leadership role will be challenged. As for us and our pack we will be forever grateful to Lucas the wolf for his revealing to us true leadership qualities. Being in charge of four large dogs who by nature have an independent character plus living in a small cabin works very successfully by following Lucas’ leadership lesson. Leadership like Lucas demonstrated makes being a pack leader far easier and makes for a more calm and well balanced pack. Perhaps if we humans applied Lucas’ principals we wouldn’t have all the rancor that we seem to be bombarded with on a daily basis.
Lucas the wolf had something to teach us and we can attest that the application of his principal has worked for us. Maybe it will work for others also. Thank you, Lucas, and RIP because your job was well done.
Photo of the Lucas look alike courtesy of Google Images.
For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their lives in the Sangre de Christo mountains of southern Colorado, go to their blog site:www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com. They live in a small cabin with their four German Shepherd Dogs at 9,800 feet elevation. Read all of Bruce's remote-living blog posts for MOTHER EARTH NEWS here.
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