The use of the word “pack” has gone in and out of fashion. It was quite common decades ago, but its use has diminished in recent years. Lots of people like the term, but it makes others wince. For many, it depends on what the term means to the users.
In the 1970s, many dog protectors began referring to their dogs as packs because of research being conducted to compare dogs and wolves. If wolves live in packs and dogs are their close relatives, a group of dogs living in a home should be considered a pack. Comparisons of wolves to dogs are now frowned upon, in large part because they often lead to assumptions about dominance and “alpha” individuals within a group of dogs. The term “pack” meant assigning the social structure of wolves to dogs, and objections to this reflect an understanding of the differences between dogs and wolves.
Decades later, the use of the term “pack” often referred to both humans and dogs living together. It became a common way of expressing a bond with your own dogs by referring to both types as part of the same group. It wasn’t uncommon to say things like, “All of our pack are going to visit my in-laws next week.” This use of the term is affectionate and inclusive. It expressed the growing movement to recognize the importance of dogs in our lives and to strengthen their position as full members of our social circle.
In this way, the term “pack” was a precursor to a term we already had for those we live with and love and who we cannot imagine without being. That term is “family”. Perhaps part of the reason that the term “pack” has become less common is that “family” seems to more accurately describe the relationship with our dogs and what they mean to us. “Pack” was perhaps just a placeholder, while our community accepted that the term “family” is a better way of saying that our dogs are included in our closest social bonds.
How do you feel about using the term “pack” to refer to a group of dogs or to describe a family of people and dogs?