The Perfect Dog
When I decided to get a dog, I wanted the perfect dog. Who doesn't? But after many years of dog ownership and training, I know now that there is no such thing as a perfect dog, and in fact, most dogs fall short of their owners' expectations. Nothing in life is perfect and this is a well-known fact. So why then are dog owners surprised, and saddened, when their canine companion falls just short of what they hoped him to be?
For starters, the grass always looks greener on the other side - meaning you probably think your friends dog is perfect, so well behaved, and you feel a twinge of jealousy that your dog is not as good. But what does good mean anyway? I guarantee that all "good" dogs come with problems and the bigger the dog, the bigger the problem. It is only when you live with your dog do the problems materialize. Some dogs are the perfect houseguests and at the same time, terrible roommates.
Lets talk about Sasha. Now she is a perfect, I mean, a perfectly perfect dog. She is friendly and aloof, obedient, playful, and medium to small in size weighing only 35 lbs. Sasha is a Siberian Husky. Siberian Huskies equal dog hair all over your clothes, car, and furniture. So is she perfect - no not quite, but she would be if she were bald. Now Sasha's owner realized this before buying her, so in her case, she is still perfect in his eyes. Doing breed specific research helps reduce these types of avoidable problems.
Lets talk about Wiley. Wiley is happy, loves children and all humans. He loves to swim and has in fact tried to rescue his owner who he thought might be drowning - can you guess that he is a Labrador? He has a nose like you would not believe and hunting instincts so strong, he could put any hound to shame. Wiley however does not get along with any other dogs - and is extremely aggressive should one come too close. Unfortunately for Wiley, his mom longs for him to get along with other dogs, so because of his dog aggression, Wiley falls short of his mama's expectations. Wiley was bought from a pet store though, and buying a puppy from a pet store is always a crapshoot. But once you are in love, there is no turning back.
Now lets talk about Molly. Molly is a beautiful purebred German Shepherd. Colors and markings of a show quality dog. Molly submissive urinates and barks aggressively at other pedestrians, both dog and humans. Molly was the result of a planned breeding, but perhaps the breeder should have had a firmer grasp on the genetics of temperament inheritance.
How about Tiny, my own mutt. He is a mutt, and yes, I took a gamble when I adopted him from North Shore. He is afraid of crowds and will not let a stranger approach him with out an extremely nervous reaction. He is afraid of all noises and sometimes even his own shadow. But he is the most obedient, agile dog one can meet. He will hold a down stay for hours if I made him. But what good is all his obedience and tricks if I can't even take him out and about to see the world and meet new people?
We should also mention Sage. Sage is a pit bull, found in the street at 12 weeks of age. She is the happiest, most well adjusted dog of the lot. So much for the scary reputation of the pit bull. In my opinion Sage is the fly in the ointment - the exception rather than the rule for dogs carelessly bred and abandoned.
Lastly lets mention Angel, my parents Maltese Terrier. She never stops barking and is snappy and moody. But she is great with kids and their perfect lapdog. Weighing in at 6 lbs, all of Angel's temperament problems are solved by picking her up and coddling her. However well intentioned I may be, my parents raised me, so on what authority can I tell them how to raise their dog? Even Popely status to my name would not be enough.
I can go on and on about the faults and problems that even the most well-intended, and well-educated dog owners face every day. Some of these problems are breed related and cannot be avoided, as in the case of the Maltese Terrier and the Siberian Husky. Doing breed-specific research can help you decide on the qualities of a dog long before you bring one home and fall in love. If you don't want a barker, don't get a terrier. If you don't want a shedder, don't get a Husky. Some of the problems, however, are probably due to bad breeding, as in the case of my Tiny, Molly the German Shepherd, and Wiley. Tiny's and Wiley's parents were probably raised by irresponsible owners who carelessly bred their dogs. Molly's mom had a history of fear aggression and aggression towards dogs, and although her owner is a very responsible owner, the breeding probably should have never taken place. Serious, very serious breeders, will not breed a dog unless it is a pinnacle of the breed standard, including temperament. These are the people you should look to buy a dog from - this is the best you can do. Sasha the Husky is the case in point.
So what is the point really? The point is that no matter how carefully you choose your breeder, or not, you are always taking a risk when getting a dog. Like humans, dogs are all individuals and each dog comes with its own unique characteristics, good and bad. The least you can do is love your dog, give it food, shelter, and hopefully obedience training. But remember that when it comes to dogs, you reap what you sow. And practice makes perfect - almost.