Monday, September 23, 2019

Puppy perception

I'm not even going to begin to apologize for not posting in forever. Let's move along...

Liam is 6 months old. He is a Border collie, well bred, highly intelligent. Traditional black and white. Handsome guy. These are images of him at 4 weeks to 6 mths. He is the definition of adorable.

I don't know why some people choose certain breeds. I am often perplexed by the choices that people make. I am NOT going to get into that. That is not what this post is about, but oh, man, I could go on FOREVER...

I have decided to stick with Border collies because they (mostly) suit my character, my nature. I am not a driven individual, but I do understand timelines, and that some things need to get done without a certain schedule, within a certain schedule. Border collies also understand this, and they are present to help you meet your deadlines. If you don't have deadlines, Border collies are not for you. They will give you deadlines, invent them, and strongly suggest you stick to them. Even when it's dark out (yes, they can tell time).

Liam (C2C Liam, born in Elizabeth, CO) always knows what time it is. He always knows what should be happening when, and why (I do keep my dogs on a schedule). He is the youngest of our four dogs; Hank, the oldest at 10, is a Border collie/Sheltie cross (the product of an amorous blonde BC who scaled the pen of the prettiest Sheltie and made babies with her--the latter's breeder was NOT happy); Samantha, 8 yrs, from a working goat farm that had actual Great Pyrenees guard dogs, who is one of the most intense and also laid back dogs I've ever met, and who is MINE, as much as I am HERS. And Lucas, from Pittsboro, NC, agility and flyball lines, crazy, driven, sweet beyond words, and amazingly athletic. Those are our dogs at this moment. They also know what time it is, but they are less pressing about it.

A year and a half ago, I began working at Paws at the Corner, in Hillsborough, NC, and this is not about that either. Suffice to say that I have been nothing but happy to work there. After so many years in the work force, and so many years of it unhappy, I finally found the perfect place for me. The learning curve has been challenging and rewarding. I am thankful for all of it, and for the time Lisa Wells, the owner, has invested in me to get me where I am today.


I have shared training stories elsewhere...this is one of them, but not related to any one dog except my own, but also about how people perceive dogs and training...

Liam is a shop dog, as in, he comes to work with me mostly every day that I work, from the time he was 9 weeks old. It's been very good for him. He meets all kinds of people and dogs every day. He has to learn how to behave around all of them. I need to monitor him ALL THE TIME. In case he does something he should not. Like snatching at a child's dress, or growling when someone gets too close for his comfort. He needs to be taught that his reaction is not acceptable, and there are better ones.

Today, to get to the point of the story, Liam was lying on the floor between myself and the cash register, and I was coming back in that direction after doing something, and I mouthed to him, "GOOD BOY!" and he wagged his tail very happily. My coworker, who has only been there a month, observing this, asked, "Can he read lips then?"

After grabbing my puppy and making a fuss over him, I stood back and said, "Here's the thing about dog training: You must always assume dogs are smart enough to figure this stuff out, because most of them are. The problem is the people. I always assume I am working with smart dogs and stupid people. It makes my job easier. Liam has been raised to make eye contact, and to watch my body language. MOST dogs do that as well, but the problem is PEOPLE. The people don't realize what's going on. Can Liam read lips? Probably. But he can also read body language. And he has his eyes on me ALL THE TIME. And everything I did approaching him, even if it had been deafening in here with something else going on, told him he was a good boy and behaving just as he should."

"Huh," she said.

Yes, huh. She sounded like she didn't quite get it, or believe it. Which I expected. And which was very disappointing.

People are VERY stupid in many situations. That is not the same as ignorant. The definition of ignorant is "lacking knowledge." I do not approve of hiring ignorant people in places where their ignorance can be a liability. But it is VERY difficult to find people who are NOT ignorant in many day to day situations, and THAT is a huge problem. And it happens ALL THE TIME in so many job situations, where people are hired who have no clue (ignorance) but are smart (intelligent).

It seems like a very basic thing, working in a pet store and being good with dogs, but it's not. If you had no clue about dog behaviour, working in a pet store where dogs come in all the time is probably not the best place for you. Unless you choose to educate yourself. Which is not as easy as it sounds. The difference between stupid and ignorance. Which is my point.