The Pack

On one of the walks last year, I met a small, tan stray, and named him Kangaroo (Kanga for short). I’ve mentioned him before: He was the jittery, springy/playful teeth-chatterer during Blue’s last heat cycle. Her waft drove him into a delirium of behaviour devoid of anything close to proud canine decorum; my guess is that it was his first encounter with the mood-altering drug called ‘lust’. I bumped into him from time to time after that, and he’d bound up the hill to prance and bounce around Blue, too jittery to get anywhere near her. He was fresh-faced, one of the naive newly-dumped. At some point over the Christmas holidays, Kanga teamed up with a black and tan Rottweiler mix, whom I quickly dubbed Shadow. Shadow is the alpha male in the two-some, a dark, brooding, self-possessed type, that jealously guards Kanga’s every move, and shuns human contact. It’s been disturbing to witness, over a matter of days, the character bleed out of a dog at hemorrhage speed, a dog that was inherently vivacious and social (despite its dire circumstances), but that is exactly what has happened to Kanga. When I take human emotion and anthropomorphism out of the picture, I understand that his chances of survival on the muddy slopes at the city’s edge have improved ten-fold since Shadow’s arrival, but the way he gets stalked and attacked by his “keeper” feels like plain bad kismet. I wonder why Kanga doesn’t split, but know, of course, his lack of ‘free will’ prevents it, his hard-wired instincts keep him bowed and loyal. That’s the reality of being a street dog; nothing romantic about notions like freedom in the urban wild. It’s a harsh daily struggle, and brutal pack-company tops being alone.

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