It’s a Friday and I’m feeling a little frustrated. Let down even. Not by my Dog (s), humans, never my dogs. Well that’s not entirely true. What is true is that the disappointment or frustration that you may occasionally experience when you come home and find your jimmy choo’s in a million pieces will not rock you to your very core the way that people sometimes can. I am very much a shoe person, so all you JC aficionados relax, shoes will upset you but it will pass.
Dealing with the shortcomings of humans will get you down in a way that dogs just don’t. Everyone who works in a service industry understands me. Think the retail mall, think the chap behind the cash register, think the front line souls behind all those reception and customer service desks out there. One day of taking care of business amongst the human world is enough to have me ranting, “does no one tell the whole story anymore?”, “where’s the customer service”, “how can you blatantly lie like that”………..do you get the feeling I had a bad day. Making the mistake of stopping in a fast food restaurant that was incredibly busy – it was precisely 12:30. A most objectionable woman was in there with her poor doomed child. She was yelling and ranting about service staff who really were doing the best they could. I was struck by the fact that she should of stayed home. Don’t bother trying to interact with the world if you are so obviously in a bad mood. Of course the second she left, everyone in the building commiserated over the shared awful experience of her. Everyone waited because she was for all intents and purposes a barking dog. Everyone knows to not force the issue with a barking dog.
The joy of my regular world is I get to deal with the “Happy” side of pet care. My guests arrive happy and leave very happy. The humans I encounter day in and day out at the Pet Hotel are dog people just like me, and whatever woe has befallen them earlier that day, we both know that moments after arriving they will get the best therapy there is; a cold wet nose pressed affectionately into their face, a furry tail whipping back and forth and a whole heap of unconditional love. If their dog was having a bad day then they say so right from the start. And I don’t mean the parents say, I mean the dogs tell us. They don’t try to pretend, they give very clear signals that today I don’t want to have my bottom sniffed, or this is not the day to wrestle. If we ignore those messages, then and only then, will they revert to “loosing” it as this women did.
I’ve really learned to appreciate both the simplicity and also the depth of dog bahaviour and language. Their needs and desires are simple but their communication is complex and varied. Believe me when I say that we have never had a viscous dog bite at our 5 star Dog hotel. In fact, with over 4800 individual and separate dogs, we have only had 3 incidents. And all three could have been avoided if the human had just listened. They didn’t listen to all the warnings that the dog gave and the dogs in question had no choice but to resort to their final defense of teeth.
As a canine behaviourist I find German Shepherds to be one of the most rewarding breeds to handle. They are a truly simple breed. Do not confuse simple with a lack of intelligence, they are by no means unintelligent, exactly the opposite. I mean simple because there is no coyness about what they are feeling. Every Alsatian I have met is very clear when speaking. They can by nature be a very fearful breed, and it is that fear that has led many to think they are viscous or biters. They inevitably bite out of fear…..But never without warning. In fact they usually shout out the warnings when needed.
So you see we have come full circle, thats how you get from bad day with humans to nasty woman at fast food restaurant to appreciation of dogs and language and ultimately back again. Two lessons to take from the dog world.
- If you’re in a bad mood just clearly indicate this and stay away from everyone, why share it.
- When you come across a barking dog, back away and don’t try to cajole them out of it – leave that to the experts!