I wrote this a few years ago when Trevor was still alive….. Smoke was still with us also…
Along the back of our property runs the train tracks. You can imagine the chaos that creates with the collies eruipting into a rush for the fence, the salvos of barking as they let the train know it is bothering them and disrupting their day. Actually, despite their protests it is part of their day for when they hear the whistle miles away they begin to get ready positioning themselves to get ready to assault the train as it goes by.
One of the strangest things about the train is the reaction of Trevor. Those who know me know Trevor, our old Alpha Male, had a stroke two years ago. Its been a tough road back and although Trevor has recovered nicely although his stamina isn’t what it used to be and he has grown old since the unfortunate stroke. It took a lot of work, love, patience and walking to regain strength, balance and stamina.
However, I digress. Trevor since his stroke has had for him a different reaction to the train. He used to ignore it acting disgusted by it. But his stroke seems to have triggered him to react to things to show he still has the toughness to be the Alpha Male here.
When the train comes he stands back behind the pack as they gather for the assault. When it shows up he bursts past them and is the first at the fence and he barks at the train like the others, except Trevor bark isn;t the fun loving barks the others have as they jump and bounce and bark gleefully.
Oh no, Trevor is defending his home. His barks are loud, strong, directed as he stands his ground standing tall, strong and defiant. As the train rumbles by Trevor continues to stand there barking as the others run along the fence joyously. Trevor continues to bark as he slowly moves the way of the train as it continues by and he keeps letting it know to keep moving andf to get out of here.
Finally, the end of the train comes and Trevor lets loose with breaks that change in tone like he is telling it “You better keep running and don’t you come back!”
I quickly realized when Trevor began doing this that he was reasserting his role as Alpha Male here. He felt threatened by his weakness, his loss of balance, his unable to move very well after his stroke. All of these things can help others to take over the role of Alpha but here it didn’t happen for I quickly made sure that all challenges, however subtle met with my disapproval keeping the usurpers at bay till Trevor recovered.
The only thing that has changed is that our Smoke has become what I call Trevor’s right hand enforcing Trevor’s actions on the rest of the collie family. He imitates Trevor, shadows him and Trevor hates it letting Smoke know he doesn’t like him crossing the line from time to time and Smoke gladly backs down for I believe he knows he is setting himself up to take over as Alpha Male when Trevor finally finds eternal peace.
My reaction to this fighting the train is to cheer him on. Get that Train Trevor! You tell him Trevor! I then clap and cheer when the train rolls away telling Trevor what a good boy he is and his reaction is one of giving a gleeful grin and strutting over to me with pure joy! He feels like he still has the Alpha Male power and it reinforces his role in our collie family.
One day as we did this my son reacted with “How pathetic!” I turned to him and replied: “He’s old and crippled son, all he has left is his Alpha Male role and our love. Doesn’t he deserve to have those till he is gone? Someday you’ll be old and feeble and think about how that will feel. He deserves to feel young and strong again for these fleeting moments….. and you will too.”
Trevor was one of the toughest male collies I ever have known. Since his stroke I have spent countless hours helping him to physically get stronger. One of my greatest pleasures has been to help him to reassert his role as Alpha here. Through the years he has given his all to me and now as he slowly descends to the end it is my turn to give him all I can. He has been a true friend and I am forever grateful he adopted me as his human for he helped me through the loss of my Niamh. I only hope I can return to him all he has given me…….