A number of things come to mind when I think of Ray but one, that would likely not be understood by anybody who has not had a relationship with a dog, is that they can draw attention to our own shortcomings. Whether we choose to acknowledge such flaws is another matter, but at least we have the option to reflect and perhaps adjust our actions next time.
I have seen so many dog owners reprimand their dog for being nothing more than a dog! When I looked at the circumstances, it was so often the dog owner that was at fault, but sadly it was the dog that paid the price. This can easily happen if the dog is suddenly attracted to something, at the same time that the owner is distracted. We had occasions where we were distracted in conversation just as Ray picked up the scent of something disgusting but perhaps edible very close by! There are many potential circumstances where the dog is just being himself/herself, but creates a problem because the owners are not being as thoughtful and/or attentive as perhaps they should.
I wonder how many of you can, upon reflection, see a set of circumstances which resulted in your dog being reprimanded (and possibly punished), but where your own “due diligence” (lack of) was the root cause of the issue?
One such experience of mine is covered in the Post below (originally posted Nov. 8, 2014):
“Pumpkin Pie & Whipping Cream.”
Ray knows how to behave around food. When visiting the Lululemon store, he will automatically sit close to the biscuit bowl and wait for me to give him some pieces of biscuit.
While he will always get excited when he knows that his morning or evening meal is imminent, he will respond to “Wait” until he hears “Take it”. Of course he needs to be reminded, especially after his food bowl is put on the floor, but he is generally very good. I find this particularly impressive because of his background as a stray, where food would most certainly be a “take it now” commodity, because who knows when the next snack would be found? The effort required for Ray to exercise this degree of self-control is very evident as he sways slightly and dips his head towards his food bowl while he is waiting for those two magic words “Take it!”. Once he hears them, all his “coiled springs” release and he dives in to devour another meal.
Even if we are eating while sitting on our sofa, Ray will initially hover around but will soon wander over to one of his beds, curl up and watch us carefully. If we feel so inclined to share a tidbit with him, we will walk over to him and offer it. The idea is to stop him from being a nuisance at meal times, and for him to realize that good things can come his way if he is on his bed. Ray is not perfect, but then neither am I, so I give him some latitude; some flexibility, to just be himself.
Homemade pumpkin pie topped with whipping cream is a particular love of mine and on this day it was dessert! I went into the kitchen and cut myself a good sized piece; topped it off with a generous portion of whipping cream, and also cut Carol a similar sized piece but with no cream (her choice) and brought both plates into our living room. Ray got off his bed and followed me over to the sofa whereupon he just sat and watched me give Carol her plate, and watched me sit down and get myself organized so I could enjoy this wonderful dessert. It probably does not need to be mentioned but, just to clarify the circumstances, we already knew that Ray loved pumpkin pie and would almost kill for whipping cream!
As I was getting comfortable so that I could give my dessert the undivided attention it so deserved, I decided to loosen the laces in my shoes. After that, the setting would have been as perfect as it could possibly get. Unfortunately, that setting was never to be. As I bent over to reach my shoes, holding my pumpkin pie topped with whipping cream away from Ray, I saw him leap towards it. I quickly moved my arm out of his reach however, the motion of the plate triggered movement from the pie which gracefully took off and landed rather ungracefully on the mat near our front door. My intuitive reaction was to follow its flight and I clearly remember the pie landing relatively unscathed and the whipping cream being splattered over the pie’s landing spot. I also remember seeing a large brown furry head seemingly vacuum up the pie which disappeared so fast that by the time I got to the “Leave it” command, there was nothing but traces of whipping cream on the mat!
My immediate reaction was annoyance (and I clearly showed it) because Ray knows better than that however, after more thought, I had to conclude that it was me who was at fault. It is so easy to blame “the dog” when anything goes wrong and once I have allocated blame, I no longer have to deal with it and certainly don’t need to accept any responsibility for it. It has been my experience with Ray that many of his misdemeanours are in fact my fault and that not only should I not be annoyed with him, but I should accept full responsibility and make changes to avoid a repeat performance.
In this particular situation, I knew that Ray loved my imminent dessert, and I also knew that he would go to his bed and lay down if told to do so. Why therefore would I allow him close to the sofa when I am clearly going to eat something that he particularly likes? Why did I not stand up and put my plate somewhere out of his reach before adjusting my shoe laces? Why did I not tell him to go to his bed? The answers are simply that I did not think, which then poses the question – why does an incident become Ray’s fault simply because I was not thinking? While he still should not have hijacked my dessert, it becomes quite an understandable reaction given the circumstances and, more importantly, one which could have been avoided given more thought on my part.
Sorry Ray. I should not have been upset with you. I really, really, really, hope that you enjoyed my homemade pumpkin pie topped with whipping cream!