Old Dogs Rock

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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Life is just full of surprises! Some are happy surprises and some maybe not so happy. We had a good surprise a few days ago that is worth sharing with readers because it reminded me of how truly inspirational old dogs can be. Carol had gone into town for our thanksgiving groceries and ended up coming home with a 15 month old German Shepherd female. We usually plan to do as much as possible on our trips to town because town is 45 miles one way. One of her stops was to pick up Rx for our senior German Shepherd male, Bozwell. 

Surprise:

Her trip to our veterinarian takes her right by the local animal shelter. She glanced over and saw a German Shepherd dog sitting in the corner of her outdoor enclosure. While we love all dogs the German Shepherd is our dog of choice. She pulled up to the enclosure and one of the attendants asked if she was looking for a dog. Carol said she wasn’t but wanted to take a picture and send it to me. As it turns out Lucy is 15 months old and was going to be transferred to another shelter in a distant city the following day.  

First Stop – Our Veterinarian: 

Welcome home, Lucy; you are now part of our family and entitled to all the love and spoiling we can muster for you. Carol took Lucy immediately to our veterinarian for an exam and her rabies shot. We know our dogs intimately and knew that integrating another dog cold turkey like this would not be a problem. We have brought many dogs into our pack family over the years and because we fully understand our dogs, introducing a new dog has never been much of a problem for us. 

Canine Communication: 

Many dog parents know that their canine family is always watching and studying them. Ours are no different and in return we carefully observe them and study their behavior because we want to know and meet their needs as fully as possible. Most people know that dogs have a communication system that we are mostly unfamiliar with or don’t fully understand.  In introducing Lucy to Bozwell and Ruby we got to observe that communication first hand again. 

Senior Dogs Do The Best Introduction: 

Lucy was terrified when Carol brought her home but just watching Bozwell and Ruby bring her to a level of calmness was heartwarming. Lucy had the wide eyes, ears laid back, head down and tail so tight against her belly it appeared she didn’t have a tail. Ruby stayed a distance from Lucy and let Lucy, as her courage grew, eventually come to her for sniffs. Bozwell was equally aloof and must have realized due to his much larger size she was frightened of him. When they were later in the backyard after all had gone potty he gave her a playful bark and they commenced to play with her being much faster than his 12 ½ year old body could muster. Ruby then engaged in play and then Lucy was welcomed into the family. We have found first introductions are best initiated on neutral ground one dog at a time. 

Being An Alpha Leader: 

We will do the basic command training but our two older dogs took care of the welcoming and social interaction and behavioral parameters. For us it was a joy to watch and realize how truly awesome our senior dogs really are. I’m constantly reminded how wonderful they are because I see it daily in various forms. That brings me to our family leadership techniques regarding our canine family and what is required to be the alpha leader. 

The Lucas Technique: 

Many years ago we sponsored a male wolf named Lucas at the local wolf sanctuary. Lucas was a very unique alpha wolf in that he did not lead his pack by dominance. Instead Lucas was the unanimous leader because of his immense love for each member of his pack. Until his death in old age not one male pack member ever challenged him for leadership. Lucas maintained order in the pack in a gentle and respectful way. Never in fierce dominance but gentle and loving and his pack responded by keeping him the alpha leader. Lucas was a unique wolf that broke the mold when it came to wolf behavior. He led his pack out of  pure love. Other males in the pack were far more fierce but they lacked Lucas’ capacity for love. 

Lead Gently And With Love: 

Therefore I fully subscribe to the Lucas method of being an alpha male. Over the years I have watched our dogs closely to better understand their needs. The more we can understand the needs of our dogs, the better we can provide for those needs using the “Lucas technique”.

We do not raise our voices to our dogs or speak harshly to them. That is difficult at times as one is deaf, one is becoming hard of hearing while Lucy’s hearing is normal so we must be extra cautious.  It is our desire to love each one according to their individual needs as much as Lucas loved each of his pack, therefore keeping order and discipline. 

Only When We Understand Their Behavior Can We Meet Their Needs: 

Our dogs have always seemed to thrive on the Lucas technique and are a well adjusted loving pack. Lead in love and they respond in love. It takes a sincere desire to first understand them and then meet their needs. Over the years I have learned so much from our dogs and how they interact with each other and it has made me a far better pack leader to them.


Bruce and Carol live in the mountains in S. Colorado with their canine family and take measures to protect them from the wild predators that are around. They lead a somewhat different lifestyle and for more on them and their canine family visit their blog site at:brucecarolcabin@blogspot.com. You can read all of Bruce’s Mother Earth news posts here.

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