Ok, I’ll admit that I’m not enamored with every single dog that comes through the grooming door. I secretly probably blame the owners, but I’ve spent a lifetime mastering the fine art of being polite and respectful.
Dogs? If I were to treat a dog the way other dogs treat dogs they don’t like? I would be out of business. They don’t even attempt to conceal prejudices and judgmental attitudes.
There’s a poodle in the shop today that, I’ll admit, I’m not super crazy about. He is flea infested (owner’s fault), 12 years old and still unneutered (owner’s fault), is walking around peeing on everything, is neurotic (so is the owner), and has few social skills (again…similar to the owner).
His owner is someone (to put it politely) I would like to find a way to fire as my customer. I just haven’t found a way I feel comfortable with–and, of course, I’ll need to lie since anything else would feel just…impolite!
Right now I am boarding a dog whose personality I wouldn’t mind borrowing from time to time.
When this poodle walked in and pee’d, “Teddy” came out, took one look, and started growling. It’s like he said, “What’s the matter with you? We don’t like you.”
My own dog was a little more forgiving. Teddy then followed our ‘guest’ outside. The dog pee’d more. (The owner told me as he dropped this dog off that he probably also needed to ‘poop.’ I handed the leash back and asked if he would like to take him for a walk then. He responded, “No, I’m late for an appointment.” When I callled to tell him later that his dog was ready to pick up, he informed me that he won’t be able to pick him up for another two hours because he is at a doctor appointment. I am not providing daycare voluntarily. Yes, I really do want to fire this client.)
Teddy comes from the old school of behavior adjustment and admittedly has infinitely more influence than I. He gave poodle dude an instant attitude adjustment.
Poodle guy was boldly investigating everything in my clean studio–and acting like the joint was his. Teddy addressed it immediately. “GRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!” (Translation: “Make one more stupid move and it will be your last.”) I was embarrassed, “Teddy, can you find a nicer way to say that?”
Teddy: He doesn’t understand “nice.” It’s completely lost on him.
Couldn’t disagree with that.
Poodle Dude: I was uh…just going to go over here.
Teddy: You don’t listen very well, do you?
Poodle Dude: Uh, how about if I go over here instead and don’t really look at you?
Teddy: Your left testicle is in direct line of my laser vision. I am a herding mix, you know.
Poodle Dude: Just one step?
Teddy: Try me.
Poodle Dude: So, no step?
Teddy: I see that you’re still breathing. You must be getting too much air.
Poodle Dude: Umm.
Teddy: Did you move? So help me…
Poodle Dude: Nnnnnnnnnnnn…help? <lifting front legs toward me>
What can I say? Poodle Dude is now wisely asleep in my lap.
Normally I might be concerned that one dog is bullying another. In this case, I have to agree with Teddy. Were it not for him, this dog would have made a really awful mess of our just cleaned shop/home. Teddy handled the peeing, the snooping, and the whining with some very well-timed and clear guidelines about how to act (or not act). He’s convincing to the poodle that his criteria doesn’t change: The rules are DO.NOT.MOVE. And that’s all the poodle needs to know.