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Canine Employment



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Doggone Etiquette —

Canine Employment

By Bardi McLennan

A Word to the Dog:           

What do you have planned for this summer? Have you already decided what you will be doing, as well as what you definitely will not be doing? Or are you going to be noseying around for something to do on a day-to-day basis? Maybe you have certain jobs you get to do in the summer that you can’t do in the winter – like helping to dig up the garden, or move the sprinkler, or guarding the hamburgers before they go on the grill. You’ll note that some jobs are better than others! The best jobs are the ones that earn you praise from your VIPeople. As they would say, “That’s money in the bank” or as you might put it, “It’s good for another treat.”

A Word to the Dog’s Owner:

It is really nice to see the number of hard working dogs that are in the news these days. It’s sad, of course, that the reason for their work is “search and rescue” due to all our catastrophic weather. However, it does remind us pet owners that when intelligent dogs are taught more than “sit-come-stay,” they can become our heroes in many ways. Dogs have served mankind from the beginning of time, but it’s good to see their heroic deeds acknowledged in news reports of the recent natural disasters.

Your Rufus may not be a qualified searcher, but I’ll bet he can find whatever it is he happens to be looking for, or wreak havoc in the process! (If the latter strikes home, more good training of “leave it” might help.) When it comes to rescue, most housedogs are very good at rescuing trash from a wastepaper basket, or garbage, or a dead mole in the yard. Not all those same clever dogs are quite that sharp at rescuing anything we might think worthwhile.

Let’s give credit where credit is due. Our dogs take on all kinds of jobs. I’ll bet your very own Rufus is good at watching the kids – either watching them play ball or just watching the ball. He’s also very good at greeting guests in a friendly manner, or setting off the bark-alarm in the case of strangers. No doubt your dog only sleeps on the end of your bed when invited (or not). He listens to every word you say, even though he only pays attention to those words that mean something specific to him personally.

Too often what we consider poor (or downright rotten) behavior in a dog is due to the fact that the dog is plain bored and needs to be given jobs to do. And just as important, needs to be taught how to do those jobs to our satisfaction. They can be little things like putting toys back in the dog’s toy box, or carrying in the mail (or a non-destructible part of it) from the mailbox.

Leave true search-and-rescue to the professionals, but do encourage Rufus to use his brains as well as his brawn. It will keep him out of the dog house, and you’ll say, “That’s my dog” with all the pride you can muster. His greatest achievement in the field of canine employment may be as your companion, and you can’t ask more of a dog than that. 

Until next time – BE GOOD!

- Bardi

Bardi McLennan bred, trained and showed Welsh Terriers for 30 years, during which time she wrote a monthly column on canine behavior in Dog Fancy Magazine. In addition to contributing to numerous dog publications, she has written 15 books on dogs, the latest being Rescue Me!, which received the ASPCA Humane Issues Award in 2008.

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