New Rules

Tomi and Skudra

Tomi and Skudra are good friends. Both come from Estonia, although Tomi is half Finnish. Skudra grew up alongside Tomi, teasing him in all sorts of ways; she still tugs at his ears when there's a more lively and faster run nearby. Tomi is the most affectionate and tolerant dog I know; he allows Skudra to climb on him and only slightly avoids her when things get too intrusive. Now Skudra is two and a half, while Tomi is almost five years old. This morning, they had a little fight, something I couldn't wrap my head around and still wonder about. In retrospect, it all makes sense. Since autumn, we have had two newcomers at our camp, who are now six months old puppies. Tomi has taken on a leadership role and is teaching the youngsters how to live, especially the little boy. Trond is very aware; he doesn't engage in conflicts but tests boundaries, just like anyone getting to know the world. These events change Tomi's role, and it seems like he wants to establish stronger foundations of order for Skudra as well, so that there are no loose ends in the pack hierarchy. "If Skudra can challenge Tomi in the eyes of Trond, Tomi's authority can be at risk." Rules apply to everyone, so Skudra also needs to be accountable for her actions—that's how I interpret Tomi's leadership policy. Dogs learn best from each other rather than from human attempts to influence their behaviour. Their canine language is better understood between them, even though they pick up all sorts of tricks that I'd rather not see. They also adopt work ethic and behaviour from each other in the sled, so it would be good to start the team with dogs that inhibit good manners. Nevertheless, I'm not sad that I have a very fun core team. As they grow and new dogs will join, I envision a team that will be both fun and strong—qualities that I value very much.

Subscribe to Family Pack

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.