Beware of Being Pack Leader

I respect Cesar Millan tremendously for his dedication to healing the human-dog bond. I would, however, reconsider adopting the “pack leader” label he promotes. Labels fan the fire of our egos. Life can, and frequently does, douse that fire, destroying any labels along with it.

Trouble happens if you’ve rooted your whole identity within that label. See, with labels we create whole stories and they can be hard to tell fact from fiction.

I made that mistake. So did Mr. Millan. The difference is I refuse to repeat that mistake with my dogs. He continues promoting it.

My mistake came with the label of martial artist, which I grew into after about seven years of study in a few hard-hitting styles. Health issues forced me to quit training the way I thought a serious martial artist should.

I had dabbled in the Yang family tai chi form before, but it was marketed as something grandma did to keep from breaking a hip, not a martial art. So I never stayed for long. Yet that’s exactly where I found myself, a young, strong warrior practicing full-time with people a generation or two older than me.

Reality conflicted with my self-image. It felt like God hadn’t actually written me into the story. I was the blob of ink that accidently dripped onto the page. It took me years to find a sense of direction and rebuild my self-esteem. (And learn real tai chi is vastly different from its reputation.)

Even Mr. Millan, himself, openly talks about trying to end his own life when reality conflicted with his self-image. He based his entire life on being the pack leader not only of dogs, but of his family until his first wife filed for divorce, causing an overwhelming identity crisis.

I admire his brave honesty. Still, I choose not to base my relationship with my dogs on another dangerously fragile label—even one as enticing as “pack leader.”

That label creates too many expectations. Within that are the disappointments or feelings of failure when one of us doesn’t measure up. My dogs are the only relationship I have where I am 100% free from the pressure of expectations.

That’s not to say I don’t ask for certain actions or behaviors from my dogs. I touched on that in my first post. And I’ll get into that more soon. Cesar Millan looms large over any such discussions, so I wanted to touch on this first.

I don’t care about being a pack leader. I care about finding more balance with less barking from my dogs and myself.

Thank you for stopping by!

 

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About Christie Green

A student of martial arts since 1995, a writer since 1999, and an animal-lover for all of time
This entry was posted in A Mindful Life with Dogs, Odds and Ends and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Beware of Being Pack Leader

  1. Pingback: Insights on Bullying from a Pit Bull | Dog and Dojo

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