the cult of Cybil

I have mentioned my dogs many times, but I have never delved into the intricacies of their relationships within the family. 

As you know, I have the puppy, Indiana Jones.  He is the newest addition to our home and in the course of the month or so that I have had him, he has grown to be a part of the family.  In the beginning, he was the outsider.  An unpredictable force that the other dogs and the cats kept at a distance for fear of the unknown.  He tested the proverbial fence by attempting to set himself as the top dog. 

He was not successful because our house already had an Alpha dog.  And she runs a tight ship.

I have had Cybil for longer than I have had Mike.  She and Lady were a part of the family before any of the other animals were brought in, so she truly does rule the roost with respect to the other pets.  That doesn’t mean she thinks she is the boss.  She knows who the boss is.  And according to her…that’s me.

Cybil is very protective for a Labrador.  It doesn’t help that she is a little skittish with people other than me or the kids.  She just prefers her family.  When I first got her, she would only let me take her out in the morning.  No one else was allowed to take her. She would lie beside my bed until I got up.  It didn’t matter if I slept in until 10…she would wait.  That hasn’t changed. 

The interesting change has occurred as new dogs have been introduced into the family. 

Joey came to us five years ago as a rescue dog.  He was supposed to be Mike’s dog.  He was going to be the “boy” dog that went on walks, and hikes, and would play ball in the yard for hours.  All of these things were true…except for the part about being Mike’s dog. 

In the beginning, Joey would get up in the morning with Mike to go potty and play ball before Mike went to work.  The change was gradual.  As Joey adapted to the family, falling under Cybil’s rule as did Lady before him, he would refuse Mike’s request to go out in the morning.  He would wait, with Cybil, until I got up.   The only exception was if the kids asked him to go.  He would happily get up with the kids, even if Cybil would not. 

We would joke that Cybil had told Joey that he wasn’t supposed to go outside with “the man” because the dogs only went places with “the mommy”.  It seemed possible given the fact that initially Joey would go with Mike, and the minute he was fully integrated into the household, he wouldn’t.  The thing was, we would never really know, would we?  Even if we did speak dog, they weren’t talking. 

Jump ahead five years, and in walks Indy—the big boned, clumsy, sweet natured English Mastiff, who seems to like Mike a great deal.  He runs to greet Mike when he comes home.  He goes to see Mike while he works from home.  Mike feeds him, and takes him out, and gives him treats.  Indy is a “daddy’s boy.”  Or so it would seem. 

Indy is also very attached to Cybil.  He tries to sleep beside her, and he follows her around the yard, and he has completely accepted her alpha-ness. 

Last week we noticed that when Indy would cry at seven thirty in the morning to go out, he would refuse to come out of his crate for Mike.  He would lie there in his comfy bed, staring at the open crate door and Cybil on the other side of it. 

He had been told not to go with Mike! 

This time we are certain that this is what has happened.  It cannot be a coincidence.  Cybil is not just the alpha dog in our house, she is a cult leader.  The other dogs will do whatever she tells them, and I know she is telling them things.  I can see it now…once Indy is big enough to open the refrigerator, and reach the kitchen counters, Cybil will order him to infiltrate the sandwich meat and steal the bread.  And Indy will do what she asks, they all do.  I suppose I should just count myself lucky that Cybil loves me the best.  I guess that way I will always be safe from her mischief.  Now if only I could convince her to help me teach Indy not to pee by the back door when no one is looking.  Oh well…you can’t have everything.

Until the next time…I’ll be getting up with the dogs at seven thirty!

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Posted on August 5, 2010 .