A few years ago I rescued two pitbulls: Diesel & Armani (formerly “Bronson” & “Gritz”) Each came with their own set of issues (besides having horrible names.) Diesel had been raised to fight and was aggressive toward other animals, while Armani had been diagnosed, treated for, and survived heart worm. Diesel lacked self awareness and didn’t play well with others. Armani had been caged for 6 months to allow the heart worm to dissolve before interacting with other dogs, making him the socially awkward only child. Diesel was the athletic knuckle-head who preferred to be the big spoon. Armani was the sensitive introvert who would often sit extremely still and look at himself in the mirror.
I’m not sure I was any better. I had just been divorced a year previous from the woman who I was expecting to spend the rest of my life with. I worked from home and lived in the suburbs with a huge back yard. It was time to have a family.
I knew that I would need to step up and be the pack leader for these two dogs if there was any chance of us leaving the house. They, like people, needed a leader they could look up to and respect. Said respect wasn’t granted right away. I had to earn it. I had to prove to them I was fit to be their pack leader.
Those two dogs taught me more about leadership than any book on the subject. Here are some examples: