Hey! Rack! Want to go Out Front?
I know what you really want. I just choose to ignore it. I have chosen my own reality.
The smarter the breed, the more mental stimulation that they need. Sure, you gave your dog food, water, shelter. You take them for walks hopefully with bags to pick up after them.
Things happen the same time every day, so now you have established a routine. They don't know why you get up and do things in a certain order, ice cubes to cool off the coffee after you brew it, why you go outside to check the yard at a specific time of day because the sprinklers come on.
They just like the order.
So when you throw the order off it gets strange results.
Mid morning mug of coffee happens because you think taking an afternoon nap at 10 AM is just a bit too ... decadent for a busy day.
But you too need a break.
The feet scrape on the floor as you push from the desk and...
The dog trots to the back door. Back door means that Rack can go explore, water my pots of Basil that keep sprouting in strange spots along with all the other involuntary plantings.
Wash the Basil well before it goes onto the Pizza, ok?
Rack, Front Yard. I'm not sure if it is a request or an order.
Go water the rock!
There's a duck trying to walk across the yard anyway, I have to convince that beast to go "elsewhere".
Rack walks to a spot and stops.
I go outside take a step off the porch, the duck walks across the street and draws a box watching me every flap of those feet. I take a second step when it stops and convince it otherwise. I'm really tired of pressure washing the concrete because a duck parks itself there when I am not watching.
The duck dance ends with the beast five yards down. I need my coffee anyway.
Rack hasn't moved. He's bored.
By the time I have taken the first sip, he's looked out back again, came over sat down and is looking at me through the side of his eye pretending he's not being seen begging for attention.
He may think he's being slick but I think that's the Reality of Dog when you are a herding dog who does not know how to herd, nor chase any other creatures.
Except me of course.
Second sip happens as I take my hand away from petting him, turning his head, telling him that he's the Goodest Boy Ever But You Are Not Surprising Me A BIT!
I think aloud "I'd take you in the Jeep somewhere but not just yet".
Shouldn't have said that. Now he's glued to my side thinking he put the words together saying that a ride was happening RIGHT NOW.
Maybe later, I tell him. Dogs have a really awful sense of what "later" is.
You can indeed have a highly active, highly intelligent Herding dog in a small house in the suburbs. You just have to be trained.
Cesar Millan is right, people can be trained. The dog knows how to Dog.
Herding dogs need a job. I am Rack's Job. Truth be told, anyone in the house is family even if they aren't or at least by the second visit they are. Family is the job. Even that noisy as hell parrot in the back room's window, Oscar.
But Oscar is a very different story indeed.
I move my feet off the footstool at my workstation.
Mistake. The whole cycle starts over. Rack thinks that Things Are Happening.
Yeah, I'm grabbing the headphones so I can listen to that Norteño music from Mexicali Mexico that I find I like even if it is "educational for me". Time to go to the kitchen
After a fashion he's right. Potatoes go in the oven for the Roast Pork Lunch that he is waiting for.
Of course he waits for it. He gets to do his sad little Me Too Routine so that he gets some pork,
Not every herding dog could do it. After all, support dogs don't always make the program. I don't need that much support, companionship is about the extent of it. Just don't raid the trash or the recycling. You won't get away with it because the house is too small for that.
Besides, a metal bowl on top of the trash can's lid makes a heck of a sound when it crashes to earth.
But this is how we solved a completely broken down mental state when we got him. I'm a big loud man. I never decided that we would change, but he would be given every opportunity to learn how to live with us.
Teach success. It's best for dogs, people, even you and me. Given the chance to excel, most will make an effort to reach your expectations and then leave them in the dust.
It's a team building exercise. Not one bit different than how I taught programmers how to be systems analysts so I could go off and be a project manager in a traditional setting. Your Systems Analyst just has black and white fur and a wet nose.
When we got him, his first walk in the neighborhood was on his belly slinking across the street one paw at a time, to meet Lisa and Bill, our former neighbors. He never learned that people can be fun and exciting.
Until he met us. Now everything is an opportunity to learn.
Teach success. It's easy.
If your dog is barking like it's insane, you're not keeping its mind active.
But it is also your responsibility. A dog that knows his place in the family, or the pack, lives a longer happier life.
So will you.