Honey is the easiest dog I’ve ever lived with.
She doesn’t counter surf, root through the garbage, or bust in on me in the bathroom. She doesn’t cry when I leave her to go to work.
But she’s not perfect. Mostly because I refuse to finish her training.
Flaws Make Us Special
Many years ago when I read about the waiting list of people who wanted to adopt released service dogs, I expressed amazement. Why would anyone want such a boring dog?
After all, aren’t all such highly trained dogs exactly alike? Didn’t their training take away their unique personalities?
Those of you who raise service dogs are laughing at me, I know. What can I say? I was stupid when I was younger.
But it is true that a dog’s quirks or flaws make them memorable.
When I remember my first dogs, Agatha and Christie, I don’t think of how they slept quietly on their own beds on the floor. Or the way Agatha stayed nearby off-leash despite my never training her to do so.
I think of coming home to find they had eaten the bindings off my most expensive cookbooks. I recall Christie going on walkabouts around the neighborhood sniffing her way around the block. I remember them eating not one, but two expensive couches.
As for service dogs, the black lab who always sits on the bus seat (instead of under it where he was trained to) sticks in my mind despite having seen dozens of guide dogs on the streets over the years.
And years from now, when Honey is no longer in our lives, I’ll remember her flaw too—the one thing I never tried too hard to train her away from.
Honey’s Bad Habit is Love
Love hurts. Especially when it comes in the form of a 50 pound Golden Retriever jumping up to give kisses.
That’s why I’ve worked hard to teach Honey not to jump on people.
She’s not perfect. But 95% of the time, she will keep all four paws on the floor when greeting someone excitedly.
I have never gotten her to sit calmly, however, when someone comes to visit. And the more she loves someone, the harder it is for her to contain her joy.
I don’t have any pictures of her greeting behavior. Let me try to describe it:
Honey presses her body into the legs of the person she’s greeting. Her tail wags slowly but in a huge swinging arc while her feet dance all over the floor. Finally, she can’t stand any longer. Her feet slip out sideways from under her and she shows off her fuzzy belly before returning to her feet to start all over again.
People who are unused to enthusiastic dogs (like my father) find Honey’s behavior overwhelming. My dad would love for Honey to sit calmly by his side so he can pet her on the head. All the puppy pyrotechnics make him nervous.
While part of me is embarrassed that I haven’t done a better job training her to control her impulses (especially when the receiver of her enthusiasm is our trainer, Russ), I also love her joy. I’d miss it if she stopped.
And that’s why I don’t train my dog better.
I count on that burst of joy. And even if it means my friends end up with their legs covered in gold fur and their knees buckle from the assault, I can’t bring myself to train Honey out of it.
Maybe that’s my flaw that will help people remember me.
Your Turn: Does your dog have a “problem behavior” that you can’t bring yourself to fix? Or am I the only crazy one? Also, Honey and I will be attending BlogPaws. If you will be there and don’t appreciate enthusiastic greetings, now is your time to make your wishes known. I’ll do my best not to lick you.