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Our Herd Keeps Growing — New Puppies!

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Beth Anstandig

It’s been all about puppies here for the past month and ridiculous amounts of cuteness. Mom Georgie and dad Cap welcomed a beautiful litter of six healthy Border Collie pups on June 14. (That brings our total Border Collie pack to 9!) Georgie has done a wonderful job adjusting to motherhood. What a joy to watch her care for her new babies and learn a new part of herself.

Actually, what is quite interesting is that Cap, and our old dog, Glen, have been heavily involved in caring for the pups, especially through the weaning process. We decided to let Georgie lead the weaning and she has needed the other dogs to step in so that she can disappear and hide from the puppies. They have teeth and nursing hurts! Just this week, they are less focused on nursing so she is interacting with them more. It’s amazing to see what emerges with the animals if humans stay out of the way of managing natural processes and learn, instead of imposing our own distorted perspectives and agendas. They have a lot to teach us!

We haven’t forgotten about HORSES! With the Natural Leadership model, we learn from all animals and all natural systems. Our mammal cultures are made up of the same ingredients regardless of where we exist on the food chain. Studying a litter of puppies is a great way to deepen understanding of herd life and all mammal groups.

Born blind and deaf for the first two weeks of their little lives, these puppies navigated the world through touch, smell, and instinct. Those first few weeks of hardwiring as they searched for food and connection will serve them for life. What an incredible experience to observe each day as their senses came to life.

Even at a week old, competition for resources ignited an internal drive to survive in each pup. While we can see competition within a pack or group as a negative force, it’s important to understand that it can act as a motivator. Each pup has to learn to survive as an individual and to function in the group. The drive to take care of ourselves — to self-preserve — is foundational and competition is a force that propels it.

The bottom line is that mammals live in groups in order to survive, perpetuate the species, pass down social and life skills, and share resources like space, safety, awareness, nurturance, and connection.

The more humans can understand and relearn some of these basics, the better job we do taking care of ourselves and existing in low drama, cohesive groups. Those basics are the foundation of my new book The Human Herd: Awakening Our Natural Leadership. Consider it a guidebook to your human animal.

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