Tuesday, October 25, 2005

How The Other Half Lives

So there I was on the sidewalk, in my black vest, black leather jacket, stringy unwashed hair and muddy paw-printed jeans. I looked like someone who should be chased away from the school playground so I couldn't give the kids free samples. And at the end of my leash was a Standard Poodle with traditional pom-poms, a pink rhinestoned collar and pink bows on her ears. :-)

Let me back up a little.

I got to learn about appearances yesterday. :-) I was filling in yesterday and today for Amy of Amy's Happy Critters, Inc., a highly-recommended pet-sitting and dog-walking service, while Amy was out with an injury. So I got to meet new dogs and go new places, which is always enjoyable.

Because I had been really harried over the last few days with WAE tests and shelter benefits and stuff, I dressed down for the day and counted on the dogs not caring. What the heck, no humans were going to see me anyway, right? (I wasn't thinking about downtown visits.) So I went out to do the dogwalking in my warm fleecy vest and grimy hair. The dogs didn't care; dogs are good that way.

But my last stop of the day was for a dog who lived in a downtown penthouse apartment, and she and I didn't necessarily look as if we went together.

This was really interesting for me, because I'm usually walking a Doberman. Now, I didn't choose Dobermans for the macho image, and I work pretty hard to make sure my dogs don't terrify people and are well-mannered in public, but generally people do respond differently to large, black dogs. And I can pretty much guarantee you that if I'd been walking my Dobes in that get-up, I would have prompted a few conversations regarding urban renewal. ;-)

But with a pink and sparkly Standard Poodle beside me, incongruous as we were, I was still approachable, and a few people commented on the "pretty dog." No comments for me. :-)

Made me think of the Ultra Disguise Kit.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Laura,
Are you testing Laev with WAE? Does it need to be done at a certain age like the Temperament Test? Do you think a "good" Dobe temperment would pass the standard temperment test, expecially greeting a friendly stranger? I know of a Dobe owner who is proud to say her Dobe would not allow a stranger to approach her and her dog. I've already gone on too long...any insights would be great.
All the Best,
Nancy in St. Louis (without a Blog ID)...sagemaya@aol.com

Alicia said...

Laura,
There are many words I would use to describe you and your normal outlook on life. "Pink" and "sparkly" would not be the first to come to mind. *grin* I wonder if the poodle had an identity crisis of its own, walking with you.

--Alicia

Laura said...

Hi, Nancy. Laev is not yet old enough for the WAE, which has a minimum age of 18 months (and many dogs should be older for enough mental maturity to handle some of the stressors). She will be tested when she's old enough and ready. :-)

Because the WAE is designed for the Doberman temperament, I think a Dobe should be able to handle all parts of the test. As far as greetings go... Dobermans may be aloof, which is a valid part of the standard temperament, but they should not resent a neutral or friendly stranger. That's not merely my opinion; that's the written standard for the breed.

My opinion is, yes, I have dogs bred specifically for protection. But if the dog is not public-safe and cannot be with me, he's not going to be able to do much protecting! Shakespeare is not a great competition dog by any means -- he is too sensitive to stress -- but he can go anywhere in public with me and be safe, mannerly and a good ambassador. He's not overtly friendly, in that he won't rush up to strangers with his tail wagging, but he'll welcome friendly petting and kids. He's a therapy dog and my kid-safety demo dog; he's darned close to bombproof.

But, he is very quick to let someone know they've stepped over the line in a threat to me personally, whether a couple of weirdos at a roadside stop after dark or someone trying the door to our hotel room. He can recognize normal and is fine with it, and he's seen enough normal that he can recognize abnormal and alert on it.

This is a long response.... Sorry! But I think a correct Doberman temperament should be friendly or indifferent to humans who do not pose a threat, and should when a real threat is observed, respond with appropriate (neither insufficient nor over the top) aggression. The dog should of course then also return to normal and not remain on a dangerous aggression high for several hours!

Laura

Laura said...

Hey, Alicia, I certainly do have a "sparkly" outlook on life! It's just not a rhinestone kind of sparkly. Effervescent, maybe, but not a pink rhinestone sparkly.

It wouldn't surprise me in the least if the poodle complained to its friends later about her forced association with such a poor dresser. :-)