Monday, May 10, 2010

Back to Work

"... when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth" - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Recently, there has been a thread going in Training Levels group about "food motivation". This is a topic I feel strongly about, having spent years struggling to use food to motivate a dog who wasn't interested in being motivated by food (when outside) before finally accepting that it was never going to work.

As usual, I heard that I didn't do it right, that in all their years they had never met such a dog, that if I had done this or that then my dog would be over his "food issue", and even that I might have caused the assumed "food issue".

As usual, I found myself sitting there, wondering why I got sucked up (or caused) the thread to begin with.

I am at peace with my dog. I have nothing to prove. I'm not looking for solutions. I know those sharing their thoughts are well-meaning. And (perhaps most importantly) I know they are wrong about my dog.

So why does it get a rise out of me every time? Why can't I just sit there, shake my head, and pass those threads by?

I think it's because there might be someone, somewhere, with a dog like mine, who has yet to reach the "at peace" stage of accepting the dog they have. Someone sitting there, feeling like a failure, because they are unable to do what "everyone" is telling them is possible to do.

I'm also saddened that there are so many otherwise wonderful clicker-folks out there who can't envision a world where there exists a dog (and perhaps there really is only one) who won't work for food and are willing to be hurtful to another (probably without realizing they are doing so) in order to say so.

Perhaps I'm the same way, just heading in the opposite direction.

Once again, I've probably said too much, too often, too loud and so I'm going to try to just let this thread pass by. Once again, I'm going to hope I stay out of the next thread of a similar nature.

... and yet, what of those poor lost souls, as I once was, who are left to think that if only they tried this, or did that, or... or...

Perhaps the best thing is just to reply by private email - for my opinions to be listened to or not as the recipients see fit. Maybe next time I feel the urge to plunge in I'll think to reread this post and realize that some things just can't be changed and move on.

Oh well, back to training - The Canine Good Citizen test is creeping ever closer and there is still much to be done.

I will now go and love the dogs I have, for the time we have with them is far too short to waste.


katie, Maizey and Magnus said...

its interesting what a hot topic this is. Right after I read your post i stumbled on this blog:

I used to be on the "all dogs work for food" band wagon, but not since I met my moms little dog, She says he "only works for love.":) And I've seen its true.

But I think you really summed it up best with your sage words to "go and love the dogs I have, for the time we have with them is far too short to waste." We agree Kathleen! Thx for your sharing, I know I've learned a lot from following your journey w/ the boys.

BZ Dogs said...

You mom is a very lucky lady! Love is the one thing we always can have with us. :)

5minutesfromcool said...

Screw them. You really can't take comments from the internet seriously - every one is an expert.

I am not surprised to hear of a dog that doesn't work for food, but a Golden? That amazes me. Beautiful dogs.

BZ Dogs said...

:) He'll greedily work for food inside, as shown in his latest video:
(101 Things to do with a Box)

He just doesn't consider it rewarding once we are outside.

Lene said...

I hope you continue to include posts about dogs that are not interested in working for food. Such posts would have helped my husband when he was in training with our wonderful Merlin (standard poodle) who had a high prey drive (he once rounded up a beautiful buck for us - then watched in disbelief as his people let the buck go), but very little interest in food and none in non-live prey. Bill finally gave up training him for agility. We lost him suddenly last February to bloat - just a few months before his 6th birthday. (I used to wonder why people said lost when they meant died - but that is exactly how it feels - we felt lost without him and kept replaying what we could have done differently to bring him back to us. We still have our Ariel and will soon have another puppy - having remembered that even though we can't have Merlin back we can have the joy of another dog. Didn't mean to digress to all this but I have been so thankful for your posts. They are very, very helpful as we think about raising the new puppy. His name will be Leif (Lay-f) for Leif Ericson - because we are expecting a sailing, exploring type dog.