Thinking about all the changes that Ray has made in his attitude to our world, and watching him now interact with other dogs on a daily basis, some comparisons with us are inevitable:
He readily accepts the attention of, and will socialize with, puppies and senior dogs. We usually give children, especially young children, lots of attention… but the elderly?
He clearly does not care whether they are overweight, or looking malnourished. He does not care what collar and/or harness they are wearing He befriends them anyway. Are we that non-judgemental or are we still stereotyping? Are we really open minded about body piercings, tattoos, motorcycles, studs, pants where the waist line is well below the waist? Do we believe that obesity is simply an education issue? Do we believe that anorexia is a choice? Are we really prepared to look beyond the outward appearance and treat everybody equally?
He does not care what color or breed they are! Are we that open minded? Really? When one considers the size and breed of a dog, and also its overall appearance, and sees Ray approach it in a very friendly and accepting manner, we should perhaps ask ourselves “Am I really that receptive to variations in not only physical appearance, but also to cultural and religious differences?”
Then there is his attitude to life in general. Remembering that Ray is my first dog, I took issue with the concept of training with treats. I had a problem rationalizing that bribery could be justified because… where does it end?
As it was carefully explained to me, bribery is not involved. Quite simply, bribery was when the reward was given before the desired activity, in contrast to a reward which was given after the desired activity! As for having to maintain the rewards in order to maintain the desired activity? It was explained that dogs are an opportunistic species. When they perform as required, but no reward follows, their thought process is something like “Oh well…. I’ll probably get a reward next time.” The whole training method of reward based positive reinforcement suddenly made so much sense and, based on Ray’s progress, it worked extremely well!
This raises a point of interest though. If a dog can adopt a positive attitude to life in general, why do so many people have trouble grasping and applying the same concept? It really seems odd to look at Ray and think of him as role modelling life for us and, given the complexities of our lives compared to his, he really isn’t. Having said that however, we can still learn so much about ourselves by just observing our canine friends and making comparisons in behavior!
If we were just as accepting of our own species in all their variations, as dogs are with their species, the world would certainly be a much happier place. Food for thought.