Last weekend The New York Times Magazine had a fascinating article about how we treat our dogs today. I recommend everyone take a look at this and just think about it for a while. Like most things, there is some good stuff there along with a few things that I disagree with.
I take issue with the authors idea that dogs should be "relegated to the basement and the back porch" but I do support her when she says that dogs should be expected to "earn their keep as retrievers and ratters". I’ve always been an advocate of having a JOB for the dogs to do and I think that with that comes a better human-dog understanding.
Take for instance my dog Gwennie. She is a beautiful thing, a lovely Welsh Springer that is four years old. Gwennie is not the brightest dog in the world and she was a real bear to train when she was a puppy but she has two jobs that she does around the house and she does them very well. First, and this is not very taxing, she is the pretty dog of the group. She’s calm, pleasant, and pretty and is just the kind of dog you want to follow you everywhere. I trained her to do that, follow me EVERYWHERE. Second, Gwennie’s real job is to close the front door whenever we come inside. She does this every time we come in and she loves doing it. She’ll whip around after we go inside, check to see that all the other dogs are in, and then push the door closed with a nice satisfying shove. It took her a while to learn this job but now that she knows it she can’t really settle in in the evening until she closed the door after us.
Long digression there, but if you read the article you’ll see that the author doesn’t like how we make our pets "Prima-Donnas". What I have to say there is that even Prima-Donnas have jobs they can do that make them better members of dog society. Heck, if Gwennie can find a job, any dog can.
Austin dog trainer
Fidelio Dog Works