I got slapped in the face at a recent conference for pet bloggers. Not literally slapped in the face, of course, but figuatively. I’m a dog trainer. I love dogs precisely because they are dogs. I love them because they are canine. My dogs are my dogs — not my four-legged kids, not my furkids. I appreciate my dogs for their dogginess.
At this conference, pets were allowed. I saw ferrets in harness, I saw cats in strollers, and I saw lots of painted dogs. Dogs in dresses. Dogs in hats. Dogs made to look like lions. I saw a cat dressed as a cowboy. I kid you not.
The only thing I had in common with some of my fellow attendees was blogging. And that was kinda depressing.
I saw several ill-mannered dogs. Dogs that didn’t really like being at a conference. I saw dogs being pushed in strollers, being shushed when they barked at the cats, dogs, bunnies, and ferrets.
I also saw some really happy dogs. Dogs that didn’t know they looked like a lion. Dogs that didn’t know their coat was dyed to look like a rainbow. And I’m cool with that: the dog was happy, the human was happy. That’s what I live for.
The thing I didn’t quite understand was why people would let their ferret greet unknown dogs. Schooner stumbled into a stroller (yes, really) of ferrets. When I realized what he was sniffing, I called him quietly away, and rewarded him for coming away.
The ferret-lady said to me “Oh, he’s fine with the ferrets!” He meaning Schooner. I wasn’t quite sure how she knew that — heck, I wasn’t so sure of it myself, and I’ve lived with this dog for several months.
I politely declined to let him meet the three ferrets which led to a very disappointed ferret-lady.
I couldn’t understand why a dog owner would give their dog the chance to “play” with a ferret when he might actually kill the ferret.
From a dog trainer perspective, my question is: why set your dog up to fail? Yes, a dog cut to look like a lion is ridiculously cute. But when my dog saw this creature, he did a triple-take. He was so curious about what type of beast was in the hotel lobby, he couldn’t make sense of it. That lion-dog was the center of attention — from both people and dogs. And all of that attention wasn’t necessarily good attention.
Dressing your dog up or grooming your dog to look like another creature is fun. But before you do it, take the dog’s well being into consideration. If there aren’t any other dogs around and the dressed up dog is happy: go for it! If you’re setting your dog up for unwanted (by the dog) attention: quit it!
Dogs aren’t our little dolls. Using them for our entertainment and not thinking about what the dog is going through is unnecessary.
I got some good blogging ideas between my subconscious nervous tics due to all the animal craziness by which I was surrounded. So it wasn’t a total loss…