quote pertinent to RW (or why Mal isn't killed almost immediately for threatening the pack's alpha male):
Furthermore, the breeding male defers posturally when he approaches the breeding female tending young pups. On 26 June 1990, I observed the breeding male walk toward the female in the den "excitedly wagging his tail and body." Similarly, on 18 May 1990 in Denali Park, Alaska, I observed radio-collared breeding male 251 in the Headquarters Pack (Mech et al. 1998) approach breeding female 307 when she was in a den with pups and begin to "wiggle walk," waving his back end and tail like a subordinate approaching a dominant. The female emerged from the den and the male then regurgitated to her. These were the only times I have ever seen a breeding male act submissively toward any other wolf, and it seems to indicate that the breeding female is temporarily dominant to even the breeding male before the pups emerge from the den.
--from the Minnesotans for Sustainability site, on the page titled "Alpha Status, Dominance, and Division of Labor in Wolf Packs," L. David Mech
further cited as
Mech, L. David. 1999. Alpha status, dominance, and division of labor in wolf packs. Canadian Journal of Zoology 77:1196-1203. Northern Prairie Publication 1078. Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, Jamestown, ND.
See at < http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/2000/alstat/alstat.htm >. May 16, 2000. Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, 8711 37th Street SE, Jamestown, ND 58401-7317
Which for my purposes means to me that the female alpha's protection extends over new pack members - for a very short while.