The dog you thought you were getting

Many years back, I worked for a smallish oil company which was taken over by a massive, international giant. I was assimilated into the “Western Hemisphere department.”

One day, not so long after the takeover (sorry, “integration”), I phoned a chap in IT who I’d known for a while to report a problem with my laptop. Even though I was the only “Bonny Quick” in the enormous company he refused, based on new company policy, to work with my name. He needed to use my 10 digit employee code.

Maybe it’s stupid, but I couldn’t let it go. I spent 10 minutes on the phone arguing that he could deal with me by name, not number. By the end of the conversation I had decided to leave. I was damned if I was going to be an obliging, well-behaved number for the rest of my life.

Why am I telling you this? Well, in a roundabout sort of way it brings me to this quote from Cindy Ludwig: “Some people want a dog with robotic obedience. I personally prefer a dog with an unbroken spirit, a bounce in his step and a sense of humour.”

There are people in an office who always tow the line. They turn up to meetings on time, they wash up their own coffee cups, they reverse in and park neatly between the white lines, they don’t make a racket. The best thing is… they don’t annoy you too much when you’re sharing an open-plan office. But, on the other hand, they don’t tend to set the place on fire either.

Then there are others who come up with hair-brained ideas. Maybe their voices can be heard from the next floor. Or perhaps they shamelessly chomp through all the biscuits in the meetings. They might like to make you laugh – so you find them hilarious on a Friday afternoon and unbearably cheery on a Monday morning.

Forgive my tangent, my point is: Dogs aren’t numbers. They often turn out to be different to how we thought they would be – not quite as we planned. They may bring us unexpected challenges. Rarely, if ever, does the puppy we get develop into the one we thought we were going to get, or the same as our last dog…

But do we really want our dogs to be numbers? Sure, we want them to be relaxed, happy members of our society – as much as possible. But they still need to be able to shine – to be a little crazy or different sometimes.

“Difficult” is defined only by how we think our dogs should be.

Sometimes, it’s our expectations which get in the way of us loving the dog we have. Our relationships with our dogs can be strongest when we allow some flexibility: when we can grow and morph with them.

I believe there is always a compromise to be struck between your dog’s personality and yours. You have to make an individual decision about what you can love about your dog (even if it’s unique or different) and what needs moulding on the part of your dog – and you!

“If you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”

We have to allow our dogs to shine in a special way; not put out their light with the shadow of our own expectation. Maybe your dog is perfect after all?

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