The Dog I've Always Wanted

Canine Behavior, Training and Photography

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Entries from May 2008

May 12th, 2008 · No Comments · Captioned Photo


DOMINANCE

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At the Dog Daycare 3

May 7th, 2008 · No Comments · News From the Doggie Daycare

It is very interesting to observe the entry of a new dog into the existing pack at the day care. The staff can do a lot to help the process along. It is usually a good idea to introduce the neophyte to the group gradually, one or two dogs at a time. This is especially important if the newcomer is exhibiting any signs of anxiety. A confident adult dog who is well-socialized with others may well be immediately able to handle the necessary greetings and ritual sniffings required of a dog in this situation. In a few minutes he can be caught up in the ongoing play. But if the dog is younger and/or a lot smaller than most of the pack members his introduction into the pack ought to be more gradual. The pacing of the introduction should of course be determined by the dog’s reaction. He may want to stick close to a human at first until he feels less uncertain. It is possible that he will tremble and cringe at the other dogs’ initial licks and sniffs especially if they are exuberant. In the normal course of events the new dog will find his place in the pack and things will carry on from there.

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Dogs (collected by Catherine Johnson, words by William Wegman)

May 6th, 2008 · No Comments · Book Reviews

What Catherine Johnson has collected is a wide assortment of amateur photos of dogs. There are a few studio portraits but for the most part these are homemade images. Some of these photos date back to the early 20th century or even perhaps a little earlier. The bulk of them appear, judging by the clothing and hair styles of the accompanying humans, to date from the 1940′s and ’50′s. This era marked the first flush of widespread amateur photography. The book is sprinkled with quotations on the subject of dogs and the human dog relationship. They tend to be of a decidedly folksy flavour. One of my favourites is a remark made by Woodrow Wilson: “If a dog will not come to after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.”

It is very entertaining to speculate on the miriad questions posed by each of these photos. Who were these people? How much can you tell about the relationship between the dogs and humans who share the frame?
How did they come to be together to be immortalized by the camera? Plenty of material for imaginative wonderings. It actually occurred to me on first flipping through this book that each photograph could generate at least a short story and a few might provide the starting point for a novel.

And what of the dogs themselves? What kind of existence did they lead beyond this one frozen moment? They certainly weren’t attending doggie day , they may have been subsisting on table scraps (!), perhaps they were not vaccinated, and who knows, it is even possible that they lived in the backyard. Our relationship with and attitude to dogs has undergone some fairly dramatic changes in the past sixty or seventy years. This book opens up opportunities to reflect on some of those changes and to dream of all that is not there but can be imagined.

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May 5th, 2008 · No Comments · Introduction, Quotations

“Of all creatures on earth it is the dog that man has chosen as the object of his purest, most disinterested love. We marry a wife or a husband out of love, yes, but also in order to build for the future, whatever the future may be, however much or little it may be worth. We have children as as assurance against that future, to carry on our particular struggle or enterprise, to make men and women of them and a better world for everyone. We create them so that one day we may give them their freedom, let them be truly themselves. At least, that is what we think. Love may be seen as our immediate motivation, an irresistible force, but it is (contrary to what we suppose) really nothing but a bonus, an extra. Between husband and wife it is sometimes no more than a point of departure, the initial spark which serves as a pretext for other interests; people often, as we know, outgrow their early passions. Marital love can, according to circumstance, work for either total unity or complete disruption. Now the dog’s role is rather that of a lover or mistress, but even a lover or mistress introduces some emotion, rightly or wrongly, other than ‘pure love’; a lifetime’s secret self-aggrandizement, for instance. Between two human beings there is no such thing as ‘pure love’ in vacuo; but the whole aim and purpose of owning a dog is to love it and be loved by it. Even if you acquire it with some other end in mind, this is always what it comes back to in the long run; this what man has, ultimately, molded the dog for.” Colette Audrey from Behind the Bathtub

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At the Dog Daycare 2

May 5th, 2008 · No Comments · News From the Doggie Daycare, Uncategorized

Who’s stick is it anyway? Do dogs ask themselves this question? Probably not but the issue of object guarding can be a serious problem when you’re dealing with a group of dogs. Some dogs will guard toys, including sticks, in a group. It usually starts with a game of “keep away” that goes on too long. The dogs get too aroused and a fight can begin. The culprit does not know who is in charge; since he has possession of the valued object he thinks its him. This can be corrected by making it clear to the dog who is in charge and to whom the resources belong. Some trainers recommend that all the dog toys be kept by the human in a place where the dog cannot have access to them on his own. A toy may be brought out at play time; this makes a good reward for appropriate behaviour. Later, the toys are put away. It is generally not considered a good idea to have dog toys lying around; some dogs will feel the need to guard them. If the dog does not recognize that the human is in charge he will of course feel the need to play that part himself. That is because a dog has a pack drive; the strength of this drive varies from breed to breed as well from one individual to another. What does this mean? In short, a dog needs a structure in which to operate socially and that structure is the pack. When dogs live with humans the human must be the pack leader or serious trouble can ensue. Being a pack leader means, in part, that you control access to all the resources. So I guess its your stick!

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