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Hierarchies Part 1

The dogs have an extraordinary sense of social hierarchies, not only the larger framework but the individual complications. For instance, when I come back from tutoring today, the in-laws and Cathreen are away, and as the dogs see it's me, they immediately shut up. If anyone else is home, or if anyone else comes home with me, they will bark for an expectant ten minutes. They know three things to be true: first, I am above them in social rank and will not defer to their wishes; second, they are above, or at least equal to, the in-laws; but third, the in-laws are above, or at least cancel out, me.

Cathreen fits into all this uniquely. They can't figure her out, I think. She has more power than I do, but only seems above them at certain times. They believe she will feed them from the table, give them human food, but they also know she won't tolerate their noise. They know she won't let them put their paws on the table, or bother the other humans, whether above or below them (to their minds). She seems to rule the house but will capitulate to Bosul, the shitsu, or occasionally the in-laws or me if she is in a particularly good mood.

Boise and the baby are clearly at the top. President and vice-president of zero words.

But allow me to take this further from the dogs' perspective. I would put our complicated hierarchies like this:

Just the dogs and me: I win. Just the dogs and Cathreen: Cathreen beats two out of three. Just the dogs and the in-laws: the dogs win unless the in-laws have various weaponry, bamboo or rolled-up newspaper. The dogs and Cathreen and me: the dogs lose. The dogs and the in-laws and me: the dogs win. The dogs and the in-laws and Cathreen: the dogs can persist and perhaps reach victory. The dogs and everyone all together: this is where they must get confused.


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