I hate the word “pet” with its superior tone, as if we are better than the cats, dogs, rabbits, birds who live with us. And frankly, we’re not. Do we have 4 legs? No. A tail. I think not. Can we hear supersonic sounds? No. Is our hair luxurious? Usually not. Can we fly unassisted? Nope.
But it is the anomaly of humans that we don’t like to live by ourselves. We like to buddy up with others whether they be other humans, cats, tegus, or lambs. Humans are indiscriminate in their search for companionship.
And this is where I really differentiate with most people about our animal companions. I read article after article about “proper training” methods – what you should do and what you should not do. Some folks believe in discipline. Others believe in positive reinforcement. You know what I believe in. Nothing. That’s right. Let them do what they want and if there’s a problem, work it out.
A lot of people think that’s some crazy shiz because there’s all these terms now like “leash aggression,” “crate training,” “dominant behavior,” and the big kahuna – “obedience school.” But every animal is as unique and different as every human. When you bring them into your home you make a pact with them that says, “We are here together. Please don’t tear up the house. I will buy you toys to destroy. I go to the bathroom in that little room down the hall. You either go to the bathroom outside or in the litter box. Please don’t crap on the oriental in the den. Please don’t bite the mailman because I will lose my mail delivery and my home insurance.” The pact goes on and one, but you get the idea.
Your furry companion isn’t probably going to understand the pact initially. You are new, and the companion is sometimes like our German Shepherd mix, Nikki, who ate bed mattresses. We lost a couple of mattresses that she completely chewed to shreds before we paid a pet psychic to call her on the phone and tell her to please stop. Did it work? She quit eating the mattresses. And at the time, I capitulated and took her to obedience school, but I hated it. I had never made that dog heel, and she simply didn’t get it. Finally the teacher told me, “I don’t want to fail you two (meaning Nikki and me).” Huh? Just fail us. I can’t stand that kind of forceful BS. The dog walked all over the place, in front of me, behind me, to the side. I think the teacher passed us because she never wanted to see Nikki and me again.
This “do what you want” method is a lot of work and sometimes has some definite problems where I have often questioned the efficacy of it. When I was walking Nikki, she saw a cat in the street’s gutter, lunged and broke my middle finger – snapped the sucker into a right angle. I had a horse I never could coerce into not running to the barn. I had a small dog I could never house break until I took in another dog and the new dog kept biting the House Pee Queen until she got the message. But all in all, this is the method I have worked out with my animal buddies that I think works the best to keep everyone’s personality and psyche in tact and good stead (me included). We all share the responsibility of cohabitating and making our lives fun. I’m not superior to them and they are not to me. We work together with concessions made to 18 year old dogs like she wil get lean chicken cooked on the George Foreman grill. She will get carried when she is too tired to walk. That is part of the pact too. When one of us is down and out, the other steps in.
There is no real summation or ending to this mini rant, other than to say I was in the vets office today, and there were people in there, who were like me. There was a lady with a lovely yellow lab named Remy. She told me her skin was dry because they had put her bed too close to the wood stove. They had moved it, but the skin was still a problem. She bent over to the lab lying on the floor and said, “See these flakes. Leftover from being too close to the stove.”
“I bet Remy was upset when you moved her bed away from the heat,” I said.
“No. She understood,” she said. She fluffed her hair in a spot which was decidedly thinner than the rest of Remy’s hair, and then, leaned over and grabbed the dog biscuit jar from the counter.
“She wants a cookie,” she said, and of course, Remy did.