People Dogs, Ball Dogs, and Dog Dogs

The Sports Guy has a wonderful but sad tribute to his recently deceased family dog (Daisy/The Dooze). He is a gifted writer and here is an excerpt:
..I know goldens stereotypically love tennis balls ... but The Dooze took it to another level. Within a few months, she could repeatedly bounce them off the ground and catch them like she was dribbling a basketball.

Our first apartment had high ceilings, so we'd watch TV and bounce balls off every inch of the wall for her. That's how I spent the 2004 Red Sox season -- sweating out games and dinging balls off that 10-foot wall. Soon she was chasing down ricochets like a four-legged Ozzie Smith.

On walks, she sniffed out any stray ball within a 100-yard vicinity, dragged us over to the ball's precise location, somehow locating it even if it was buried inside some 6-foot bush. There was one hill a few blocks away -- the front lawn of someone's house -- that she would race atop, then drop the ball so it would roll down. She loved the way it rolled. We'd throw it back up, she'd chase it down like Jim Edmonds, then she'd drop it back down and watch it roll. She never wanted to leave.

In the mid-1990s, I introduced my dog theory. The way I see it, there are three labels that can best describe the behavior of a family dog: 1) Ball Dogs-—prefer chasing a ball, Frisbee, or stick over doing anything else; 2) Dog Dogs—-prefer the company of another dog. They will drop whatever item that is in their mouth and disregard owner commands to smell/greet another canine that has entered the vicinity; and, 3) People Dogs-—prefer the attention and company of humans—not just their owner.

Dogs can have tendencies that reflect all three labels, but only one preference will be the predominant preference. The Sports Guy’s dog with her insatiable appetite for tennis ball play was definitely a Ball Dog.

In contrast, my dog, Sara the Springer Spaniel (60 lbs. of energy and pictured above), was a People Dog. When she was a puppy and I walked her at my apartment complex, she would beg and cry to anyone in sight (out walking or running) for an ear scratch and other attention. She always wanted to be near someone, and if I was sitting, she would sleep up against my feet-—knowing that any movement would signal her to action.

During my policing days, I worked an occasional extra job. My criteria for an extra job was that: 1) It had to pay a ridiculously high hourly rate; and 2) it was highly probable that I would not have to do any law enforcement stuff so that I could get homework done, read, or otherwise be productive.

One temporary job that fit within those parameters involved me working overnight once a week at a huge old building that was being remodeled to accommodate a music industry business. The structure had been emptied and they were doing structural work. They had off-duty officers watching the building at night to prevent vandalism—-even though it was not in a high crime or transient neighborhood. I had an enjoyable experience being paid to basically watch the stars.

I drove my personal car to the job, and brought two things: Sara the Springer and books. We had a great time for seven hour shifts—-walking the grounds and playing. Other officers and the building’s security director would stop by and give the wanna-be police dog lots of pats and attention. She even got to where she would wait by the front door on weekend evenings hoping that I would put on my uniform and indicate to her that tonight was a work night.

Sara died in 2006, but I treasure those memories of her and the time that we spent together--both working and playing. I was sorry that our younger children as infants only got to meet her briefly, and did not get a chance to spend time with a true People Dog. With a closing thought that I can relate to, the Sports Guy poignantly states:
The day after The Dooze left us, our little boy woke up and my wife carried him downstairs to feed him like she always does. I was still half asleep and could hear her footsteps. Then I heard this: "Day-zee. Day-zee."

That part didn't make me sad. The part that made me sad happened three mornings later ... when my wife was carrying him downstairs again and he didn't say anything.


mappchik said...

As Peter T. Dog ages, I find myself deliberately not thinking about this part of the future. On cold mornings when he's a bit slow coming up the steep driveway, I'm reminded we're going to have to face this at some point. I don't like it.

I like the dog theory. I think you've got something there.

Pete is a People Dog, specifically a Dog People Dog. He likes playing and running with other dogs, and is happy with people in general. But, introduce him to a dog person, with or without their dog, and he suddenly reverts to playful, cuddly puppy.

Slamdunk said...

I remember seeing the picture of your dog that you had posted and was envious when you talked about him doing some running with you. My dog may have started a run with me, but then would certainly get a scent or see water and abandon me for a much more fun experience.

Wild Child said...

What an amazing stories, in my pack now, I have one of each, of course the majority are people dogs, I also have one who was a trucker dog and on the big rig with me for 3 years, now my puppalump, (Sidekick is her name,) thinks she is a cat, walks rails, ignores me until she want to be petted and hogs the blankets. Have you ever read the story of the rainbow bridge, when I lost Chanel last year, someone sent it to me, what an amazing poem. Thank you for sharing....

Slamdunk said...

Good suggestion WC--I may have to add another category for the working/vehicle dogs.

I have not read your suggested poem, and I'll have to look it up. Sorry you lost your pet, that is never easy.