Saturday, September 26, 2015

Dogs And People Aren't That Much Different

This is why Gracie thinks her last name is "damn-it"
Those of you that have read my novels probably know that I have a great affection for German shepherds--Rosco plays an important role in all three of my novels as Levi Garvey's ever-present sidekick.  That's one of the few places where my art imitates my life.  For the last eleven years I've had a great dog, a German shepherd mix named Roxanne.
No, we don't bite Daddy and knock his glasses off . . .
Roxanne is getting pretty old now, so last January we added a new member to our family--a six week old full blooded German shepherd puppy we named Gracie.  German shepherd are great dogs, but they are very challenging puppies.  They require a great deal of patience for the first year or so, and as an owner, you have to be absolutely consistent in how you train them--unless you're fond of chaos.

Gracie is being perfect.  Gracie and Roxanne are on duty protecting Katie while she plays in the yard.
The first eight months or so, Gracie was all play, all the the time.  They love to wrestle, and can be rough when they play, and although they don't mean to, we all went through a lot of band-aids due to sharp little puppy teeth and nails.  But the most important thing you have to understand about these dogs, is that they have to be engaged at all times.  You have to be watching them, playing with them, and instructing them almost constantly.  People who get German shepherds often don't understand just how much work it is in the beginning.
Wasn't paying attention and Gracie got bored.  I wonder what's up on the table?
When Gracie is bored, she becomes a huge problem.  She's basically a huge pain in the butt.  She chews things up.  She'll jump up on you, or try and knock you down so you'll play with her.  She annoys Roxanne.  She'll jump up on the furniture (including the dining room table).
Gracie "helping" in the kitchen.  Being the perfect pup.
But when she is involved in something she's the perfect dog.  Whatever I'm doing, I give her a job.  Like when we're walking, she runs ahead and checks things out, then comes back to report.  When we're cleaning up the kitchen, it's her job to lick all the dishes before I load them in the dishwasher (sometimes we get confused and lick the clean ones, we just don't tell mom).  She's recently learned it's her job to alert us when somebody pulls into the driveway.  She spends a good deal of her time occupying herself in the window keeping a look out.
Gracie again being the perfect pup.  She has a job playing with Katie (and trying to kick out a rabbit most likely)
People aren't really that much different than dogs.  People need a job to do as well.  They need to be engaged.  They need something to occupy their time.  They need to feel like they are contributing in some way.  And just like my sometimes ornery puppy Gracie, when people don't have constructive things to do, they often wander into chaos as well.

~Todd E. Creason

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