Learning from the Dogs

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I’ve had dogs for most of my adult life. I’ve tried to train them all, but I think I’m the one who’s learned the most.

I’ve learned that different breeds do different things well. Bassets are great if you need to walk and track something. They’re happy to show you the way. They’re wonderful at that, but they can’t swim. In fact, they sink like a rock.

Bassets don’t fetch. Throw a ball and urge a Basset to chase it and the dog will give you a look that says, “Why did you do that? Now you’re just going to have to go get it.”

If you need some fetching done, get a Brittany. They will fetch until they drop over from exhaustion.

Doggie Lesson 1: Not every dog does the same things well. The same is true for people.

Doggie Lesson 2: You can probably train a Basset to fetch but it will be very hard and take a long time. Using a Brittany to fetch makes more sense. You barely have to train them at all. Same with people. They’re good at some things and not so good at other things.

Even though the dog is “your” dog, you’re the one who takes care of the dog. The dog does not feed you. You feed the dog. It’s a bit like being a leader. They may be “your” people, but it’s your job to help them succeed.

Doggie Lesson 3: When the dog needs to go out, the dog needs to go out. It doesn’t matter what you want. Your job is to serve. Otherwise, there may be consequences.

And then there’s barking. Dogs bark for a lot of sensible reasons. But not always.

Doggie Lesson 4: Sometimes the dog barks because another dog barks.

People are like that, too. Sometimes they act thoughtfully. Sometimes they just go along with everyone else.

Doggie Lesson 5: Dogs make sense of the world differently than humans. Sometimes they do things we don’t understand, but they have a good reason. The same is true for people.

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