The she-wolf's difficulties in running are caused by the competition among the male wolves for her attention. There is a large gray wolf, one of the pack's leaders, who always runs too close to her left side, and she is also crowded by a "gaunt old wolf, grizzled and marked with the scars of many battles," including the loss of his right eye. He runs on her right side, continually veering toward her until his muzzle is touching her, and preventing her from running straight.
The she-wolf deters both these suitors by snapping at them and even, on occasion, biting them. However, when they both run too close to her at the same time, she is "roughly jostled" and cannot see her feet in front of her. This difficulty is exacerbated when the male wolves get close enough to start snapping at each other from either side of her.
The attentions of these two male wolves chiefly annoy the she-wolf, but they also cause more widespread problems for the pack, particularly as they are running at the front and slow the others down. Whenever the she-wolf is forced to attack the one-eyed wolf for crowding her, he promptly bumps into a wolf on his blind side. London says that, had there been food, the pack might have stopped to settle these scores, but they continue running because they are desperate.