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.
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.