Fox and Goose
By Al Magaw
One winter evening, my family and I watched seven, four-month old puppies play under the yard light in the snowy field in front of our house. The seven puppies followed each other around in a circle making a packed trail about 60 feet in diameter. Then they followed one another, single file, to make several paths that intersected the circle. The pattern made in the snow was indistinguishable from the circle that children make when they play the game, “Fox and Goose”. We were all crowded at the window, the lights in the house turned off so we could see better. We watched, at first in amazed silence, then with peals of laughter, and finally with disbelief of what we were seeing.
One puppy would take his place at the intersection of the crossed trails and the other six puppies evenly spaced themselves around the circumference of the circle. As if at a signal, the puppy in the centre dashed out the spoke of the wheel, turned onto the circle and grabbed a madly fleeing puppy by the tail. After a brief scuffle, the puppy that had been caught went to the centre of the circle. All of the puppies on the circle sat down facing the pup in the middle. They waited until the pup in the centre bolted to the outside circle. Again there was a mad dash around the circumference until another pup was caught. To our amazement, they played this game for about 3/4 hour, sticking rigidly to their self-imposed rules. I had never seen or heard of such behavior at the time we watched the puppies play Fox and Goose, but a few years laterI read in the National Geographic Magazine of a scientist observing the same behavior in a group of wolf pups.
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Al Magaw is a musher from Salmo, BC. Al keeps a medium sized kennel of 20 – 45 alaskan huskies as well as several pet dogs of various breeds. Al has been training and racing for the last 33 years. Before becoming involved with sled dogs, Al, along with his family, kept and competed with horses for many years. Al can be reached through his website at http://www.spiritofthenorthkennels.com Al is a guest blogger for Denver Dog Works and can be reached through our website at http://www.denverdogworks.com