Before my husband and I adopted our first dog, we talked endlessly about the many things we’d do with and for him. Like countless other pet parents, we wanted to give him all the doggie experiences and activities every canine craves. Before long and without meaning to, we had put together a vivid technicolor film reel in our heads, titled, “Fun with Fido.”
Soon after bringing Ranger home, however, our mind-movie began to fade, with certain scenes edited and others being cut. What we discovered was that … gasp! … not every dog likes all those activities considered typical “dog things.”
But that was okay, we thought. Maybe Ranger was just different or “special.” No big deal. We shelved “Fun with Fido” and forgot about it. But several years later, as we filled out the adoption paperwork for our second dog, we couldn’t help it. Our minds re-released a newly remastered version of the film. This time, we knew, would be different. This dog would want to do all those things that all dogs want to do.
Er … nope.
I don’t know if it’s because Mayzie took her canine cues from Ranger. Or if she just never learned some of those behaviors because of her neglected background. But whatever it was, she displayed the same laissez-faire attitude toward many of the things Ranger did.
Here are four “dog” things that my dogs want no part of:
A few days after we brought Ranger home, my husband stood in the backyard with a tennis ball in hand. This was a moment he’d been looking forward to for years — playing fetch with his best dog buddy. “You ready, boy? You ready?” he asked Ranger. Ranger perked up his ears. He certainly looked ready. “Okay, then, go get it!”
And with that, hubby lofted the ball through the air. It started out promising enough. Ranger enthusiastically and dutifully bounded after the ball. But upon reaching where it had landed, he sniffed it and then wandered away. Undeterred, my husband walked to the ball, picked it up, and repeated the exact same sequence. As did Ranger.
For days, this went on. Hubby throwing ball. Dog running to ball. Dog sniffing ball. Dog walking away. Hubby retrieving ball. Each time, my husband would start out with so much optimism. He did everything he could think of to get Ranger interested in the game. But each attempt ended in utter failure, until he finally threw in the towel. To this day, I wonder if it was possibly Ranger’s plan all along to teach my husband how to retrieve. If that’s the case, it was a great success!
I love watching dogs do this. That’s why I couldn’t wait to roll down my window on a spring day and let my newly adopted dog pretend to fly. Of course, I knew this wasn’t entirely without risk, which is why I was totally prepared to buy some of those doggie sunglasses to protect his eyes. In addition to the practical applications, just imagine how adorable he’d look with his head out the window sporting his shades.
So, yeah, that order never got placed. Not with the first dog and not with the second. Because, no matter how excited they are to go for a ride, they immediately lie down and go to sleep when the door closes. Occasionally, Mayzie will sit up and look around for a few minutes at first (see picture below) but that’s as close as it gets. On one hand, I’m grateful that they’re such low-maintenance travelers. On the other, well, I’ve actually considered doing a personal demonstration to help them get the idea. My husband, oddly, has discouraged this.
You know those videos of dogs happily jumping into a swimming pool? Or splashing around on a beach? Or paddling in a lake? Yeah, those are great. Because, as everyone on earth knows, dogs love water. Unfortunately, no one ever told either of my dogs that.
Ranger, to his credit, will at least walk through a shallow creek to get to the other bank. Mayzie, however, is utterly convinced that touching a toe to water might result in spontaneous combustion. So in the wet season here, many of our hikes consist in large part of my husband carrying a 40-pound dog across babbling brooks in order to keep our brindle princess from bursting into flames.
Aren’t dogs supposed to gobble down whatever you offer them? And sometimes things you don’t? All the dogs I grew up with sure did. As a five year old, I was delighted and amazed when our dog Boone pooped out a cellophane cheese wrapper. It was like magic!
However, my dogs today regard most food offerings as suspicious (with pizza being a notable exception). Mayzie is especially bad about this. If it’s a food she’s never had before, she gingerly takes it from my hand and trots into the hallway to inspect it. She holds it around in her mouth for a couple seconds. Spits it out. Sniffs it. Licks it. At this point, she may eat it or she may not. Sometimes she just rolls in it.
Undoubtedly, this has a tremendous upside. No counter surfers or sock eaters in our house. Still, I half expect we’ll get notification in the mail one day that their dog membership cards have been revoked due to this behavior.
Maybe our next dog will be more stereotypically “dog.” Maybe she won’t. But it really doesn’t matter. What I’ve learned is that dogs, like humans, are individuals. They don’t automatically enjoy fetching just because they’re dogs any more than I automatically enjoy sewing just because I’m a woman. Once we burned our remaining copy of “Fun with Fido,” it freed us to think outside of the box. Even if they reject certain stereotypical dog activities, there are countless other things they do enjoy, and it’s been fun discovering them together.
Your turn: Are there stereotypical dog behaviors your dog doesn’t do? Tell us about them in the comments.
Read more from Amber about Ranger and Mayzie:
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About the Author: Amber Carlton is a freelance pet industry marketing copywriter and content specialist for hire who also acts as interpreter and typist for her dog’s musings at Mayzie’s Dog Blog. She shares life with her husband, two dogs and two cats (all rescues except for the husband). Connect with Amber at her business website, Comma Hound, or on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.