I'm really happy when someone makes me think about something and respond to specific questions or a topic.  Otherwise lately I just read the internets for news.  Deaths…Christopher Hitchens, Kim Jong-Il…my attention span.

I haven't had time, really, or opportunity to work dogs. 

This week's topic, or today's, it comes from Ann of Suntrip Samoyeds

What is your perfect dog?

        Do you like a dog that is really on the muscle?  I first started hating the term 'on the muscle' when I heard it in every sentence for an entire trial season to describe any dog that wouldn't LIE THE FUCK down despite how many time's his/her handler screeched the words.  It's sure better than My Dog Blows Me Off or MY DOG HUMPS THE INNOCENT.  Maybe it's a legitimate term for 3 or 4 handlers in the US.  Sadly I don't think I've heard it applied to one of their dogs by one of them.  But I drink a lot and rarely listen to the beginnings or the endings of most conversations.  Or sentences. I tend to be ON THE MUSCLE myself.

        Do you like a dog that needs a steady stream of whistles?  Probably this dog is ON THE MUSCLE.  I've watched some people run dogs this way and sometimes it's pretty beautiful work.  Some people, like Amanda Milliken, are quick enough and good enough, and so are the dogs,  that it's similar to a really cool choreography.  Sometimes it's just someone whistling to hear their head echo.

        Are you a maximal or minimal whistler?  I'm a shitty whistler.  I'm behind the curve half the time.  It's like I whistle panic or disappointment.  I'm changing that, however, slowly.  I STRIVE TO BE a quiet handler.  I can see where certain dogs might benefit from more input, but I'm a less input kind of person in general. I want my dog to be at least half the team.  If I could get Jai to pull me to the post in a sled, I'd let her order for me in restaurants.  I'd let her dress me. 

        Do you like a natural dog that feels the sheep and just needs a little direction here and there?  Who would say no to this question?  Those people should just ride a snowmobile or a jetski to the post with a chainsaw. They should do cat agility.

I'm cranky today. I haven't done MOST of my Xmas shopping and I haven't run in 2 days. Or three even.

        Do you like a dog that prefers certain type of sheep?
        Do you like a dog that wants to partner up and be a really good team player?
        Do you like a dog that really knows what s/he wants and you, as a handler really has to manage?
        Do you want push?
        Do you want a good listener?
        Do you want try? (Not tri.)
        Do you like a dog who gets the job done, no matter the sheep, but it’s a big job to get that dog listening?
        Do you want it all?
        Can you have it all? Since I don’t know enough to know what I don’t know, what do you want? What do you like?

Okay.  This is one 'Judy' reference away from channeling my mother.  (RIP)  This is where my attention span shuts down and I start wondering what I'll have for lunch.  (No offense, Ann.  My attention span dies and is resurrected like a Diesel Jesus…all existing at the metaphor level only)  I hit REFRESH on my NYT's and TPM screens to see who has died or done something politically outrageous. 

My perfect dog is Pat.  And Jai.  I'm probably NOT their perfect handler, but that's part of my job to figure out – how I can become closer to THAT GOAL.  Patrick has said that our dogs are born knowing how to do their job; our job is to learn how to communicate with them.  I believe that like every other relationship some people are better suited to some dogs.  Some communication happens more naturally than others.  I believe that some personalities are more compatible, temperments mesh better, and working styles more complimentary than others.  Pat and Jai are in some ways very different dogs and I love working both of them.  They are both sensitive and respond easily to correction.  I don't have to summon my inner Crazy Bitch. That's bonus! Some people may remember that I also really loved Rose, Patrick's dog, formerly Derek Fisher's.  Rose was a very hard dog to run, especially for me.  But I loved her toughness.  I admired her grit. I thought I wanted a dog exactly like her.  Patrick found me Jai, who is the polar opposite of everything Rose.  I can be successful with Jai, but I never would have been with Rose.  I don't have that much yell in me. That dog is fucking ON THE MUSCLE, for real.