Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

People call me when they are having a problem with their dog (1). And that’s to be expected. After all, I don’t call my doctor to tell him that I’m feeling fine. I don’t call my plumber until there’s a leak. And I don’t call my mechanic to say that my car is running fine and I don’t need his services. I don’t expect people to call me until they need help. And I’m happy to provide that help when they need it.

Still, I’d like to briefly interrupt our usual programming about dog training for a moment to remind us all about why we have dogs at all.

An associate of mine mentioned that she asks prospective clients to describe what they like most about their dogs. It’s such a lovely idea that I’ve added a similar question to my web contact form. And today, I asked the members of a Facebook Group filled with dog owners, “What’s the Best Thing About Having a Dog?”

Some of the answers included:

  • “Kisses and snuggles every morning.” - I agree!

  • “The lessons on how to live a happy life they show us daily.” - I think this is a great insight. Since “dogs do what works,” they are constantly looking for ways to produce a consequence they’d like and avoid one that they don’t want. Being more conscious of that simple truth could probably help many of us make better decisions to produce better outcomes.

  • “Unconditional love.” - I don’t have the heart to burst their bubble on that one. (2)

  • “Seeing their excitement when they see you get home.” - Yes, though it can be a bit much with some dogs, I DO love their enthusiasm.

  • “I’d say the bond” - Yep, I agree. While we can’t know what a dog is thinking, their behavior certainly indicates a bond. Scientists who study dog behavior often refer to the bond between dogs and the humans they live with. While I don’t think it’s unconditional, I certainly feel there’s a reciprocal bond between me and my dogs.

I have no doubt that I could make a very long list about what I like about living and working with dogs. But I’d rather hear from you.

So, now it’s your turn.

Please leave me a comment about the best thing about living with a dog or interacting with dogs.

I look forward to your thoughts!

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Notes:

  1. That’s generally true. But sometimes people have just gotten a puppy or (even better) they are getting ready to get a new dog and they are looking for general advice before there are problems.

  2. I’ll let Jean Donaldson do that in her great book, The Culture Clash. In the first chapter, Jean dispels the notion of the “Eager to Please” dog and explains how dogs (and every other animal) behaves to produce desirable consequences and avoid undesirable ones). But that doesn’t prevent us from loving them!

One last note about the title of this blog. You probably recognized the words as the opening lines of the song “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. In the song, “whiskers on kittens” is a favorite thing while dogs are relegated to biting animals who make you feel bad. Using lyrics from that song in a post about how much dogs actually make us happy was not an accident.


Tim Steele4 Comments