I’m quite an annoying person. I seem to question everything and to make the lives of my nearest and dearest bearable, I try not to discuss things that they believe in. Because I have an almost uncontrollable urge to check, double check, verify, find out what the other, holding the opposite opinion people think and if their sources are more reliable. I question everything. I don’t mind admitting that I was wrong, though I rarely apologise. To summarise: dogma is one of my least favourite words. So, I usually struggle with people who are extremely attached to their opinions, even if I support the opinions themselves (vegans with the air of superiority get on my nerves precisely as much as paleo dieters trying to prove I’m an idiot because I don’t consume animal products). I have a serious problem with labels – someone’s religion, nationality, political views, age, gender, level of fitness, diet, formal education or sexual preferences, hobbies, choice of clothes won’t make me like them or not. All those factors together might.

There’s a lot about me above, but the reason for it all is dog related. People don’t mind that much when we, humans, express our personality. But many have a serious problem with the idea that each dog can be different, have a different character, a different type of intelligence and different needs. And, that they, like us need an individual approach in training. So many people think one breed is better than all the others. What’s more, so many people think their dog is ‘not clever enough to learn that’. It might, of course, be true, but saying such a thing having tried one technique is pretty much as valid as saying ‘my child will never walk, he fell over the first time he tried’. There are so many similarities between teaching techniques for people and for dogs that it makes me wonder why people still believe there is only one right way. Individuals, even if they are similar, will still be individuals.11222906_10208719637414206_5303211473474358174_n

So, my unique Lily has huge levels of empathy (unusual for smaller breeds as they tend to be more independent), relies on human cues (unusual as she’s a mix of many breeds, not a pedigree) and has a slight tendency to get overly attached to humans (very common in rescue dogs who spent a long time in a shelter, especially the type of shelter she was in). She’s a chaser but not a hunter, a herding dog but not a pointer. She can be a bully with some dogs and a faithful follower and a copycat with others. And I know that in a year or two, there will be many things that will be different about her.

So, it’s not ‘Brave New World’. Lily is not an Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta or Epsilon. She is unique. As is any other dog.


12 thoughts on “Dogma

  1. I totally agree – all dogs are different. They have different personalities and learn differently. Cats are the same way. They aren’t all aloof. I have two feral cats who are brother and sister and they are not the same. They have adapted well to our home. They have different ways that they communicate with us and how they like to be petted. Neither one is really likes to cuddle but they both like to be picked up.

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    1. I think most pet owners have known that for ages- though animal cognition, psychology and research into it all is relatively new. My two cats are very, very different, too. Ulysses is a philosopher and Charlie is a hunter ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  2. Agreed. All dogs are unique. To pigeonhole them based one their breed is a disservice to us and to them. You have to get to know the individual dog to understand how they learn and their personality.

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  3. Very true, all dogs are different just like people. My mum’s had GSDs all her life and every one has had a different personality (likewise my cats) so you are so right, there is no set-in-stone rule for dogs, you have to tailor your approach to the individual dog…as for “dogma” I had a sharp exchange of views with a Jehovah’s Witness the other day…

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  4. What I’d like to add – people who are the most stuck in their ways also tend to be hypocritical and have cognitive dissonance. Their beliefs aren’t even applied consistently. I hate that because they still don’t budge even when you call them out on it!

    Anyway, I would like to give you a MASSIVE thank you because you mentioned how you tried all sorts of things with Lily to get her comfortable with being outside, which then gave me the idea to use a toy with Bailey when she gets stressed out. I have a neighbor who refuses to train his dog not to bark at everybody who passes by in ourr apartment building (due to prior burglaries that took place 6-7 years ago). I have trouble walking Bailey past their apartment every single time because their watchdog has excellent hearing and is extremely persistent, even going as far as jumping against their door while barking at us. Barking dogs are already somewhat stressful for Bailey while we’re on a walk and they’re a good distance away. It’s absolutely heartbreaking for me to see how she reacts when we’re in the hallway because she practically loses her mind with fear (she has bitten me in the past because of this but I know it’s not her fault).

    Today, I brought one of her toys along to give to her after we walked past the apartment. It was a tremendous help in that 1) chewing on the toy relieved some of her stress so she wouldn’t take it out on me by accident and 2) it calmed her down much more quickly compared to just walking around in circles. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ˜€ โค Hearing how you work with Lily gives me a lot of hope for Bailey so thank you for sharing your stories!


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