Attributes & Functionality – Why They Matter

Iced Tree

The most recent onslaught of wintry weather — a breathtakingly glistening but potentially toxic mix of ice and snow coating anything and everything in its path — brought me out for the umpteenth cycle of shoveling this season.

And as I cleared away the newly fallen inches of powder in the stunningly sunny aftermath of the deluge,  I had about me the menagerie of dogs keeping me company these days. Tommy the rescue shih tzu, my newest member, is well into his third full day at Camp A Better Pet. Bubbles the golden retriever has been here for five weeks; that’s nearly 12x longer. Not to mention that Bean and Trip have been here and with me since puppyhood and are 7 and 9 respectively. Yet all 4 have adjusted quite quickly to a workable hierarchy in which they get along well [enough], respect my rules and respond well to redirection when necessary. Mostly, though, I just enjoy watching them figure life out without too much verbal interference — in this sort of instance I only interfere if necessary and only for the safety of all.

The Gang

So as I shoveled and observed their antics, I thought about how their ATTRIBUTES and nurture have direct impact on their functionality and thus their fates.

Bubbles is going to be going into service work for a child with autism and was carefully selected from a quality breeder. But she is still quite young and just enjoying puppyhood while learning manners and receiving socialization to all manner of situations; Tommy, 4 1/2 has been here since Saturday (3 days ago) and his future is still unclear. He is 4 1/2 years old and does not have any puppy like innocent joie. I find I really enjoy his solid cuddliness and his Dr. Seuss character impressions. So while I have no urgency about his placement, I intend to find him a suitable and fitting one.

When Tommy arrived, the sturdy fellow was clearly in a state of shock and disorientation — he had been relinquished only 4 days earlier under traumatic circumstances. He endured neutering (always more stressful in an already adult dog than a young adolescent or puppy), laser surgery to remove a benign cyst on his side, and a teeth cleaning — all while residing in a vet kennel amid the chaos of that sort of place for three days and nights.

We all (myself, kids, dogs, cats) gave him time and space and care and thought and Rescue Remedy –but lived our active lives as usual. Sure enough, this sturdy fellow has comfortably integrated into the herd of dogs and cats and kids and chaos that is my life and some joie is spilling out of him.

I’m not surprised. I consider a lot of the work I do The Three Day Minimum because three days is really all it CAN take to achieve a lot of really critically important goals and foundation building.  (I had a sense of him before I agreed to board/train him and find him the right home). It can often take much MORE than 3 days, but never less.  People who give up on something — a diet, a dog, a new routine — in less than 3 days — have not yet learned or internalize the value of the three day rule.

[I liken it to when you start a new job or are the new kid in class and you can’t imagine how you’re going to learn who everyone is and then, before you know it, you know much more about their personal habits than you like!) There are many variables each situation must consider and many if not all of you are well aware of at least some of them.]

My rambling mind seeks to define the attributes and functions and  that make one dog a viable candidate for someone and another a very unlikely one. I know I possess the skills to evaluate a dog quickly and quite accurately and have selected countless dogs for others and have successfully placed rescue animals I have fostered but now I’m trying to put in writing what those qualities are.
Thought I’d throw it out to you, readers — what would you say are the top THREE attributes you consider when pairing a dog for yourself, a friend/relative or a client. I will compile a list and generate a survey to narrow it down and we’ll see what we come up with.
Thanks in advance. You may certainly , but posting in comments is always appreciated. I work on my own quite a bit and when I do engage in that group process, it is always rewarding!