Monday, April 9, 2012
The Humiliation Factor
Ricky is a happy dog. Ricky is a fun dog. Ricky knows not to eat things off of the kitchen counter. Ricky will give way on the couch if you ask him and has learned to share space with Kassa. Ricky will lay down on command and will line up beside me when asked. Ricky wont try to eat food off my plate when I'm eating while watching TV. Rather he will plop down on the couch beside me and let me eat in peace. Ricky will come to you at speed when off leash (in a fenced area). Ricky loves loves loves to play fetch. Ricky is very affectionate. Ricky loves routine. Ricky is stubborn.
Ricky hates to go for walks. It is bizarre, and I think it is a combination of the his fireworks phobia and the fact that he overheats easily. He will mule up or lay down on the bed after I have put the collar on him in protest of a walk. I have largely suspended leash walking Ricky because neither one of us enjoys it particularly much when he decides to be a mule before we even go out the door. Also because I largely suspended our walks, he has become willing and easy about just taking him out to the turn out area or walking around the back yard to do his business. He also gets a lot of exercise zipping around the field, so I'm not particularly worried about his health in this regard. Ricky has trouble loading in vehicles. He will with some protest or confusion load into the cab of the pickup truck with me, but he will not jump into the back of an SUV. I have tried and am trying high value treats that he is absolutely dying to get. He puts his front legs up and tries to step up but cant get his back legs high enough to step in. Ricky boy wont jump.
So Ricky and I were pretty set with our arrangement. I let him run in the field, work with him on loading into vehicles and don't take him on long walks, he poops on command and maintains good indoor dog manners. Unfortunately I forgot one little thing: The humiliation factor. Now I have always prided myself on spending a lot of time with my dogs and having generally well behaved, healthy and happy pups. You know what they say about pride. It comes before the fall. I took Ricky to a meet and greet at 100 Oaks in Nashville. It was being held in appreciation of Todd, who had hosted it religiously for the past 4 years so a lot of folks showed up. (Thank you Todd.) When it was time to go, Ricky decided it wasn't. He muled up and would not walk with me. This of course provided much amusement to everyone and we were showered with boisterous laughter. Now I have a fairly self deprecating sense of humor. I lead, and point out a particular weakness before someone else can, thus we can have a good laugh together. This however I was unprepared for. This was not fear or phobia, this just stubbornness and defiance. This was not his failing but mine and my training of him. I became the guy who has to plead with their dog to follow. So I boosted his bum until he decided to jog with me to the truck. Thank god he climbed in with out too much protest.
This of course all got me thinking about a few things. One is that for a grown man, I'm still remarkably thin skinned in certain circumstances. Now I'm sure that the people at the meet and great were just enjoying an amusing moment, but within these communities there exists joyful support but there can be a scandalous undertone and competition. Dogs are too fat, too thin, nails to long, eat the wrong thing or don't exercise enough. When people are passionate about things they tend to have strong opinions about how things should be done. They want to do the best in their circumstances and sometimes the downfall of others serves as self validation. I realized I have been guilty of such behavior from time to time. I need to be sure to celebrate others successes and be encouraging not judgmental in their failures. I also need to walk my dog more, whether he likes it or not!