Having four dogs is a constant reminder that, though they are all dogs, they are as individual as you or I. Dogs being dogs suits them as a group sometimes, but their interpersonal (dogsonal?) relationships have to be dealt with when considering the group behavior as a whole. Anyone who’s tried to get a group of dogs to play a cooperative game of fetch will know what I mean.
You will always have at least one competitive pair in the group, one trying to get in more fetches than the other. One will almost always prefer to be chased once the ball is retrieved and if no chase is given, will parade around the yard swooping by the nose of every dog and human involved (plus any spectators as well) to show them, “WHO has the ball now!”
Of course there will be one as well who doesn’t quite understand the game. Tearing after the ball and kicking up dust like a Lion chasing a Wildebeest the ball is pounced on and eviscerated in place with the other dogs looking on with obvious disdain, displaying what I like to call the “How gauche!” look.
And then of course there is the obstructionist. With inbred mathematical skills second to none, the obstructionist scans the area of play to calculate its exact center, providing hurdles for all participants to enjoy. The obstructionist knows that revenge is best served while laying down.
Now you would think that all these dogs, playing their individual games within the game are not focused on the group dynamic. But you’d be wrong! Like the Borg, they work as a collective in a game within the game called exacerbate the human. Here’s how that goes.
The competitive pair will look to the obstructionist for directions on dropping the ball just outside the humans area of reach, especially handy when the human is sitting or laying down. They cooperatively watch the human for head and eye twitches, a sure sign the game is about to cease, and return to normal game play before the twitching reaches the critical level of the Richter Scale.
Lying in the weeds, the eviscerator will wait until the human has reclaimed some level of decorum before dashing in and running off with the ball. Viciously shaking to break the neck of its prey, the eviscerator finally comes to rest under a tree to enjoy the fresh kill. The other dogs turn their backs and pretend not to notice. Sniggering like a bunch of… well, like a bunch of dogs who’ve had a good time at the expense their humans vanity, sanity, and patience!
Enjoy your dogs! They will most assuredly enjoy you!