Jun 4, 2013

On being a matchmaker.

This morning I got a completely random text from a number I didn’t recognize. Viewing the text history in my smartphone I realized it came from a gentleman who had attended a seminar I gave about six years ago on Dog Bite Prevention. He was a scientist who studied human behavior and who was fascinated by both the similarities and the differences in human versus dog behavior. Over the years he’d texted me a few times with random behavior questions, presumably related to his work. This morning the text merely said “Hey, what do you think of Weimaraners?”. No hello, no how are you, no can I as you a question. I responded that I feel about Weimaraners the way I feel about New Yorkers or Doctors. Some I like, and some I don’t like so much. I added that if he was asking me if I think he should get one I would have no way of answering his question, as I know nothing about this man, his life style, his habits or work hours, about his likes or dislikes. He might as well have asked me if I thought he should get married or if he should buy a Honda or a Rav4. I did add that IF he was considering getting a Weimaraner he should probably be ready to spend a lot of times outdoors exercising and spending time with his dog, and that this kind of dog is likely to be fairly high strung and high energy. I also cautioned that anything I said would be a gross generalization as there are many variations and different personalities within the breed, and that without having meet a specific dog I wouldn’t advice one way or the other. Generally I wouldn’t advice a first time dog owner to get such a dog, but then again, how would I know if this guy had known ten Weimaraners already and knew that this breed was just what he wanted.
The scientist texted back, asking if I had any more specific advice. It must have been frustrating for a person dealing with specifics and facts all day that I wouldn’t be more concrete in my response. I texted back that I would advice him to seek out a number of people who has had this breed of dog and ask them what their experiences were (and in true solid science style it should be a large enough group to get a true reading). Furthermore I urged him to please consider adoption over a breeder and suggested he contact a breed specific Rescue and become an approved adopter (if the Rescue considered him an appropriated adopter), and then ask the Rescue to help him find just the right dog for him. I asked him to please not get one from a pet shop, and then I wished him the best of luck.
I’m guessing I didn’t help this guy much, but then again if he really wanted help selecting the right dog he might have chosen to hire a trainer to select the dog with just the right temperament, and perhaps even been open to getting the right dog as opposed to the right looking dog.
People often ask me which breed of dog they should get. I hate answering that question. And I wont. My absolute least favorite question about breeds is “which breed of dog is great with kids”. Just like humans they are all different and even though there are many similarities between humans and between dogs there are also so many differences. Of course I know what people mean when they ask me which breed to get or which breed I like, and I do have a dog “type” when it comes to the dogs I choose for my own household as everyone who knows me knows (my number one criteria is “slowly moving furniture”) but it’s so much more about a dynamic, about falling in love with a specific dog, about the dog that fits into your household, and let’s not forget that by speaking just about a breed we are discounting all the marvelous mutts out there who are “Heinz 57s”, or “All American”, or “Brooklyn Shepherds”.
It is not that I don’t want to give you advice on picking a dog. It’s that I want you to really, really think about what you want in a dog and whether or not you are the right person for the dog you like. If a friend of mine asked me if they should date a banker, or a Chinese person, or a Swede I really couldn’t tell them. Is he/she nice? Do you like them? Are they for sure not serial killers? Beyond that it’s whatever floats your boat. But don’t date a drummer and be surprised when he makes noise when he practices, don’t date a bartender and be upset that he works nights, the same way you shouldn’t get a Beagle and be surprised if he has his nose to the ground, or get a French bulldog and be surprised when he snores.  And definitely don’t be surprised if I won’t give you any specific advice on what or who you need if I don’t know anything about you. It’s a relationship with a living, breathing being you are thinking about venturing into. 
Fun at Camp Rikke!

Check out how much fun Rex the Frenchie and Barkley the pit and having tugging on a poor little stuffy doll. They are very appropriate in their play and are both adjusting their play styles and intensity to match each other. Well done, Pumpkins.