Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Easy Dog

Puppy - 6.5 weeks
Dog Blog Post #123: Zachary is an Easy Dog. I'd love to take credit for how wonderfully he has turned out, but I can't. Not really. He just came that way.

It's nice working with an Easy Dog.

Scratch that.

It's stupendous (joyous, invigorating, and just plain fun) working with an Easy Dog.

What makes Zachary an Easy Dog? Well, for starters, he thinks I walk on water, that the world revolves around me, and he lives to try to please me.

Really, need I say more?

They say you don't get the dog you want, you get the dog you need.

If that's the case, then the cosmic forces must have thought I needed a Whole Lot O' Dog when they handed me Beau.

Beau was not an Easy Dog - at least not at first. He definitely did not think I walked on water. He knew the world did not revolve around me, and my needs (let alone my wants) were carefully weighed against his before he made any decisions.

He was not a dominate dog, despite what some of the (worst) trainers thought. He never tried to impose his will on others or make them do anything at all. He just considered everyone to be pretty much equal, and equals should politely and respectfully discuss the merits of any action before a course is decided.

Equals can also choose to ignore other equals, especially if they are blabbering nonsensically (as I was prone to doing, at least for the first year or two.)

I learned a lot about dogs (and life) from Beau.

Beau could not be dominated (he'd blow you off) or intimidated (he'd laugh at you.) Unlike most dogs, he also couldn't be bribed by food or toys or anything else that anyone could think of.

Nope, working with Beau required forming a relationship - a true partnership - and most trainers just couldn't seem to wrap their minds around that idea. They were too stuck on the idea of "us vs. them".

Beau didn't do "us vs. them".

He would happily wag his tail, beg a belly rub, then bolt off to go smell the dirt, leaving those sort of trainers holding, well, nothing at all.

( It was next to impossible to be more interesting than dirt if you hadn't already worked out that whole partnership thing. )

Being Beau's partner wasn't actually hard, it just required understanding his needs and wants, communicating your needs and wants, and then working out between you the order that things were going to be done in.

So long as Beau felt you were working with him, he would move mountains for you.

At Rally shows he did pretty much everything I asked in exchange for a chance to sniff to his hearts content when it was all over. There were times when he had to wait several hours before my end of the bargain was fulfilled, but he never complained.

We had a deal, he know it, and he trusted me to hold up my end.

I never let him down.

While an Easy Dog may be fun and joyous, working with Beau was hugely rewarding. And while he handed out his friendship to any and all (that whole Obsessive Compulsive Friendliness Disorder thing) he gave out his respect very judiciously, and I was honored to have earned it.

All he really wanted was to be understood. Was that so much to ask?

Handler Dan understood Beau. He taught the conformation handling class, and held the high honor of being the only person who ever held Beau's leash who didn't have it yanked from his hand (yours truly included.)

Handler Dan never raised his voice, never offered any food, never did anything with the tiny little show leash except loosely hold the end of it, and yet Beau did anything that man asked.

To this day I don't really know why, except to think that somehow, in the blink of an eye, Handler Dan and Beau somehow formed a partnership of equals, and Beau shone like a star for him.

( sigh )

I'm hoping One-of-Ten is an Easy Dog.

I'm hoping that the cosmic forces are satisfied I learned what needed learning from Beau and they will smile on me again, but only time will tell.

Either way, I will work hard to apply what I have learned. After all, when you're being taught by the best, you'd be a fool to not pay attention.

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