Saturday, August 30, 2008

On Dogs and Whispering

My Scrabble-date with an OkCupid* girl was called off on account of a summer cold, so the only girls I'm hanging out with today are the ones I'm dogsitting.  I won't go into detail about them, except to say that they're sweet and cute and I love them.  One is a people-dog, very interested in humans, and the other is a dog-dog, preferring the canine kind to the point of being terrified of people.  She's accepted me as pack leader, so we're good.  

Due to these wonderful lady dogs, I have been more successful in dating.  Not only do they give me something to talk about in random emails to potential dates, they have also gotten me a number.  

I was on one of our evening walks in Capitol Hill when we ran into a blonde with her little chihuahua mix.  The dogs became friends, and so we walked to the park together.  When I had to leave (my girls were feeling anxious for home), the blonde said "See you again," and I said "Yeah."  The next evening, I waited until about the same time I'd seen the blonde walking her dogs, and sure enough, we met up.  But on the walk to the park, I realized I had neglected to bring paper and pen, or even my cellphone.  As I was leaving, I said, "See you tomorrow maybe?  Around 7?"  She said "Yeah, probably."  So the next day we met up (right at 7) and walked the dogs together again.  Again, my girls were not feeling very social, so I left kind of early, but I got the blonde's number before I left.  That was Friday.  

Friday night, I got sucked into watching Cesar Millan the Dog Whisperer's show.  (See picture above.)  Even though he says the same kind of things to almost everybody (be relaxed, be assertive, be the pack leader), it's good TV.  I really liked watching the moments when the owners realize they are the problem, not their dogs.  

As a child, my parents thought I was going to grow up to be a vet.  They always said that I had a good connection with animals.  This may be true, but I'm not as familiar with them as Mr. Millan.  I often have a tough time figuring out who exactly is lead dog.  And I often don't know what an aggressive dog is feeling, or why it's feeling that way.  Millan's ability to do so is pretty impressive.  

I took a break from dogs for a few years, but I started to get back into them when a couple of friends of mine were intensely focused on training their dog.  I learned about dominance, about ignoring when behavior is bad, and about good ways to reward good behavior.  Then my father got a puppy, and I had one to practice on!  I read up on the things to do, and I pretty much raised that little mini-schnauzer like my own.  I apparently paid too much attention to him, though.  He became codependent and would cry whenever left alone in his crate.  When left alone out of his crate, he ate a rare book, many pillows, a remote control...  Additionally, he didn't interact very well with my stepmother's dogs (wild things that were never trained at all).  My dad eventually had to give him away, which was really sad.  

I'd like to be a dog trainer in Japan, simply because Japanese families have the worst relationships with their dogs I've ever seen.  They barely train the dogs.  They keep them outside on a chain in a fenced-in area all day and night.  The feeling is that "Dogs are wild animals, not humans, and so it's better to leave them be."  This is better, in theory, than treating dogs as human beings, but the implementation is awful.  Unfortunately, there's no market for a dog trainer over there.  Nobody knows that they could have dogs be so much better and happier just by accepting them into their family's "pack" and giving them a bit more attention and purpose.  

Over here, it's time to let the dogs out.  They're downstairs, hovering around the door.  Who leads whom?   Hmmm...

*A free site where I've had 300% more success than at Match**.  
**My colleague informs me that this figure is not clear.  I still think there's some underlying logic to it, but, for his sake, I will do real math:  I've emailed 18 girls on, and they've either not emailed me back or it's gone nowhere.  On OkCupid, I've emailed 9 people and 3 of them are getting somewhere.  So it's surely safe and accurate to say that I've had a 33.3% rate of success on OkCupid, which is more than I've had at  

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