I am a ‘directional dyslexic’. My thinking is that if our culture found knowing which way was north was important enough they would have provided me with remedial classes in school. As it is, that didn’t happen and lacking specific instructions, when given a choice of going right or left to get somewhere, will choose the wrong way. It happens to me when I’m driving, due to my inability to know or sense which is the ‘right’ way, will even disregard the disgruntled ‘recalculating’ Garmin lady on my GPS unit. It happens to me in shopping malls, leaving through the east wing door instead of the west and wandering the parking lot looking for the car I’d forgotten where I’d parked. I get lost so often that even the wrong way starts to seem right because I’ve been there so many times.
Recently I spoke to someone who had been fostering dogs in the hope of finding a good match for her fearful dog. The question put to me was, “Should I keep the latest dog, who I like, but has gotten into 2 fights with my dog?” The fights had required medical care and even though the dogs ‘got along’ most of the time, unless both impeccable management and successful training were in place, even without a crystal ball I would have been willing to put money on the dogs fighting again. That was all I could say, keep the dog or not, chances are good there would be another fight.
Dogs get better at both emotional and behavioral responses they repeat, whether we like them or not. Preventing dogs from rehearsing inappropriate responses is important. We may never be able to completely change how they will respond to something, but our chances are slimmer the more frequently they practice what we don’t like or want.
Not long ago when I met up with my brother to carpool with him to a friend’s funeral service the first thing he said to me when I got into his car was, “Can’t you wash your car?” Seriously? We don’t see each other for months and that’s what I get? Fortunately I don’t really care if someone finds my dirty car offensive. I live on a dirt road and among the tribe of other dirt road dwellers, my car fits in nicely. I did a bit too much explaining for my liking and decided next time I hear something like that from him I’ll laugh. But it was there, a twist in my gut from the sting of criticism and insult. I was able to nip my first response of disbelief and expletive in the bud. We were after all on our way to a funeral. If there is a next time I hope I can remember my commitment to laugh.
Until your dog is ready for an opening night performance skip the dress rehearsals if they keep forgetting their lines.