Just like people, dogs have unique personalities and quirks. Different breeds are known for different attitudes. For example, the Golden Retriever is the best known for devotion to her owner! She lives to please her best two legged friend. Labradors are a close second in that field. Most of them will stop what they are doing if their person calls them or even just walks into the room. Not so with some breeds that I have known, especially hunting breeds when they are hunting. Say hello, to Harry, my dad’s beagle. Once Harry saw a squirrel, that was it. His owner no longer existed. I’ve seen Harry sit under a tree for over eight hours waiting for the squirrel that went up the tree to come down. Harry didn’t always realize that the squirrel had long since disappeared into the nearby treetops. He just knew he was going to get that squirrel when it came down.
Just like people, dogs can learn to do many different jobs and actions, but like people we all have our favorite thing to do. Dogs have different God given talents. There are dogs that herd, that hunt, that retrieve, that protect and that do many different jobs. And there are some whose greatest job is to just love their human.
My two labs are an excellent example of differences. They are brothers with the same mother and same father. Our breeder made sure of that. Just like brothers in a human family, these brothers have different traits and you could say pleasures. Branch loves to play. His first thought is his box of toys that we keep in the living room. If he comes in from outside or if he wakes up from a nap, his first thought is, “I want to play!” At such times he will go to his toy box and dig around until he finds a toy he wants and then he will bring it to me or Ronnie. He will toss it on our lap, or more often he will put his head with the toy in his mouth directly on top of whatever we are doing. If I’m reading, it goes on top of my book or on top of my iPad. If I’m watching tv, it goes on my lap and then he puts his “beautiful browns” to work. He looks at me with those brown eyes, ears lifted, tail wagging and toes prancing. Now who could resist that? If that doesn’t work, he will toss the toy into my lap. If he can’t convince me he goes to Ronnie and tries the same routine. If that doesn’t work he will torment his brother, Briar until out of frustration Briar gives in. Branch will take his toy and dangle it in front of Briar. Briar might be sleeping or peacefully laying on the couch or floor, but Branch will stick his toy in Briar’s face until Briar retaliates either by grabbing the toy and hanging on or by attacking Branch. Either way, Branch has accomplished his goal, getting someone to PLAY with him.
One evening Ronnie and I were watching Swamp People Reptile Invasion on tv. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a “reality” show where Louisiana hunters hunt and capture live pythons in the Florida Everglades. Ronnie and I had been commenting on a section that showed a battle between a huge python and equally huge alligator. It was during this show that Branch went to his toy box, dug around for a bit and then held up his toy “alligator”. He then proudly pranced over to Ronnie and threw the gator into his lap. Ronnie’s mouth dropped open! He looked at me and said, “Did you see that?” I responded with, “Of course, I did! He’s hunting snakes and alligators, too!” Agree or disagree, but you’ll not convince me otherwise.
Briar, on the other hand, only wants to be with people. If there is a person in the room, Briar’s attention is not on a toy-unless Branch is tormenting him. Briar’s attention is on that person, and not just on HIS person. Both my boys have been through training to qualify for Therapy Dogs through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs and Molly Brennan at PetSmart. They both are excellent Therapy dogs, and both of them love people and attention. But Briar is different. He’s a natural. I got to see just how much of a natural this weekend when I took care of my mother-in-law. She was suffering from late-stage cancer and had become bed fast. Whenever Ronnie and I would visit, we would bring our dogs along as, like us, she dearly loves our four-legged friends. I brought Briar along with me when I came to stay nights with her. I knew he was attuned to people but had no idea of his ability. During the stay, he would be lying at my feet or on the bed or sofa with me. He would suddenly rise up, look to the bedroom and off he would go. I would follow and find that my motherin-law was awake or in need of something. He would jump on the bed and lie up against her with his paw touching her. Moving him became a chore. He did NOT want to leave her side. Somehow, some way, he sensed her need. I don’t begin to understand how he possesses that ability, but I don’t need to know how. I just need to acknowledge it, appreciate it and love him and Branch for who they are. Just a note about your dog and SPRING CLEANING. Be aware that dogs like to lick and chew and eat things they shouldn’t, especially smelly things like ANTIFREEZE. As you flush your radiator in preparation for the warmer months remember this… The Humane Society Legislative Fund estimates that over 10,000 dogs and cats die each year from exposure to antifreeze. Keep your best friend safe. Antifreeze smells and tastes sweet to our four-legged friends. Remember they will lick it from bottles, jugs or even the ground or chew empty bottles and that is enough to make them very ill and perhaps kill your best friend.
Happy Tails to You.