Running With the Pack

Welcome to sick day in the Dalton household. Not all the children are sick, mind you. The oldest one’s stomach was in full revolt and the two younger ones picked up on the vibe in no time flat. In comes the middle child in full zombie mode, sitting silently behind me hoping I’ll notice that he’s ill or at least faking it well.

“What do you need?” I ask. “Nothing,” he says. “I’m just sitting because there’s nothing else to do.”

Nothing being defined as XBOX360, Playstation 2, my laptop, the television with DirecTV, a book or … horror of horrors … actually getting ready for school.

Out he goes … and then he comes back, this time to inform me that his head and throat hurt and his eyes burn (not from yesterday’s three hours of Playstation, I’m certain.) No sense fighting the tide; I send him to bed.

Out of the office to the family room to find the youngest, who tells me not that she’s not feeling well but that neither she nor the middle child are well. “If I take you to school, you’re going to end up in the nurse’s office, aren’t you?” I ask. “Probably,” she says. And the trifecta of “sick” kids is complete – one ill, one sleepy and one not wanting to feel left out.

It’s a pack thing, a lesson the kids have learned watching the beagles. You see Tobey all the time here on the website – his photo is about as up-to-date as some of those agents still rockin’ the ’80s ‘do on their cards – but there are two others as well.

When Tobey was the lone beagle things were different. He’d bark a bit and run around a bit but without any other dogs he essentially was lost. Then we brought home Morgan and Tobey had someone to wrestle with and take outside to join in the barking. Then came Charlie and now it’s like watching the bell go off at the fire station anytime someone walks by our fence. First one goes outside then the other two go flying through the dog door, limbs and hips slamming into the sides without notice as they rush outside to get their two cents’ worth of rooing in at whatever happens to be outside.

None of the three does much of anything solo anymore, except picking places in the house to sleep. There’s a constant check of where the other dogs are, who is getting petted and where the food may be and then they converge like the hungry raptors stalking Laura Dern in Jurassic Park.

A lot of out-of-town buyers, Canadian and otherwise, seem to be about the same. Well, minus the claws and the sharp teeth and the desire to rip to shreds anything that gets in their path. But they do seem to move and look and buy in packs.

Some of this is the word-of-mouth factor combined with a lack of knowledge about a given area. Not knowing where in the Phoenix area to live, everyone waits until one person moves and is happy and then follows the group to the same neighborhood. Some of it is a desire to be with people they know. I’ve been calling the Brookside Gardens area of Westbrook Village “Little Alamosa” because of the volume of buyers from that little town who all have taken up residence in the casitas.

And a lot of it comes down to the assurance that comes from knowing you’re not the only one who took the plunge in a given area. Like a flock of birds on the wire, a trio of beagles waiting for the first to charge through the dog door and into the moonlight or children waiting to see who’s staying home before deciding whether they are well enough to go to school (God help them if my mother was their parent and not me, by the way), it’s not the easiest thing being the first to jump.

But jump someone does. Then it’s just a matter of everyone else following in their wake. And of Dad hiding in the office tinkering with his blog since, you know, even though I work out of the back office of my house this is still a real job and all. And I’ve got two weeks until the pack’s out of school for the summer and my real freedom disappears.

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at


  • BawldGuy 8 years ago

    “…I’ve got two weeks until the pack’s out of school for the summer and my real freedom disappears.”

    Been there, loved those days, but don’t miss them. 🙂

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