As I sit down to write about canine respect and lead­er­ship I find my thoughts stray­ing to the rhetoric of the con­tem­po­rary polit­i­cal cam­paigns. Humans have a kind of fas­ci­na­tion with pow­er evi­dent in the dom­i­nance of con­tem­po­rary pol­i­tics.  There are the spir­it­ed-type politi­cians with their fiery, impa­tient and direct approach, like Don­ald Trump. There’s  Hilary Clin­ton who per­suades with PAC con­tri­bu­tions and barks like a dog  point­ing to fact checks.  And then there’s a  “HUGE dif­fer­ence” por­trayed by Bernie Sanders who con­nects to issues and peo­ple wear­ing his cheap suit and refusal to accept the con­tri­bu­tions of  PAC mon­ey.

Do you remem­ber,  Sam Eagle, one of the pup­pet char­ac­ters from The Mup­pets.



On Mup­pets Tonight, Sam Eagle peri­od­i­cal­ly host­ed a debate enti­tled From The Eagle’s Nest. His tagline for the show was “Let’s talk POLITICS!” Sam Eagle was known as a kind of cen­sor and his lec­tures often exposed con­ser­v­a­tive ideas. Some­times his talks end­ed abrupt­ly to avoid the risk of sound­ing like a hyp­ocrite.

At the risk of sound­ing “out of char­ac­ter and like a hyp­ocrite,” I find myself ask­ing: What, if any­thing, do polit­i­cal PACs and canine packs have in com­mon?

The acronym, PAC, stands for the Polit­i­cal Action Com­mit­tee, an orga­ni­za­tion that pools cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions and donates those funds to cam­paigns for or against can­di­dates, bal­lot ini­tia­tives or leg­is­la­tion.

Polit­i­cal PAC’s are all about pow­er and mon­ey.

When a polit­i­cal PAC pools resources their pow­er and abil­i­ty to dom­i­nate and con­trol grows expo­nen­tial­ly.


Dogs are altri­cial, mean­ing need to be cared for, and live in  packs with a dom­i­nant leader. Canines live in a cul­ture where lead­er­ship is deter­mined by who has access to resources and the abil­i­ty to con­trol, direct or inhib­it the behav­ior of oth­ers. There are three basic aspects of lead­er­ship in canine cul­ture:

  • Con­trol of or access to resources
  • Proac­tive inter­ven­tion
  • Abil­i­ty to con­trol, direct or inhib­it the behav­ior of oth­ers

The need for lead­er­ship is hard wired into the brains of all canine breeds. Whether the dog’s fam­i­ly con­sists of a “one dog and one per­son pack,” or a more com­plex social group made of many dogs and/or many peo­ple, each dog is seek­ing the same infor­ma­tion:

  • Who’s in charge?
  • What are the Rules?
  • Where do I fit in?

Lead­er­ship is the foun­da­tion for the dog’s under­stand­ing of how his world is orga­nized, pro­vid­ing him with infor­ma­tion about his rel­a­tive sta­tus, direct­ing his actions, and set­ting lim­its on his behav­ior.

It’s impor­tant to note that lead­er­ship and train­ing are not syn­ony­mous. Train­ing has to do with the spe­cif­ic actions or activ­i­ties the dog knows how to do, such as basic com­mands: come, sit, stay. Adapt­able and adept as the dog is, he still must act in accor­dance with his canine core. It is pos­si­ble to have a high­ly trained dog who obeys a mul­ti­tude of com­mands but has no respect for a human.












It is also pos­si­ble to have a politi­cian gar­ner elec­toral votes and deny their con­stituents the full­ness of life, (health care, women’s rights, immigrant’s rights, etc). With a diver­si­ty of chal­lenges comes the need to remain open and atten­tive to the dynam­ics of the envi­ron­ment.

Per­haps, in a kind of Pavlov­ian way,  humans can be trained to fol­low politi­cians with media sound­bites or the promise of treats. But from a dog’s per­spec­tive only some­one they respect has the right to con­trol. While dogs need  lead­er­ship, humans are not auto­mat­i­cal­ly giv­en the role.

Regard­less of one’s finan­cial sta­tus, dogs  grant  pre­cise­ly the respect you have earned.

Bot­tom line, whether you’re a Don­ald Trump growl­ing at immi­grants or Hilary Clin­ton bark­ing like a dog,  none of these 2016 polit­i­cal can­di­dates will be vot­ed leader in the world of dogs.