Monday, March 14, 2011

What is a beautiful dog?

What is a beautiful dog?

By Jessica Barajas

“But what is it, this thing --- we call beauty?
Price, but not arrogance.
Strength, but not forcefulness.
Courage, but not foolhardiness.
Caution, but not cowardice.
Softness, but not weakness.”
- V.F. Cordova

What is Beauty in a dog? Many would say looks. What would you say?

As time goes on, and particulars become more particular, specifics more exact, breed standards more stringent, looks more appealing… what will we call beautiful? As our relationships with dogs evolves with the way we live our own lives, what will be a beautiful dog-human relationship?

Take a look at this video:

Now look at these videos:

Which dogs are more beautiful?

My last trip home has got me reflecting on the differences between city and country dogs, the notion of what is beauty and what is the right place for dogs to live.
It was not until I began working at Doglando that I saw dogs with such varieties of behavioral issues, lack of confidence, destructive behaviors, separation anxiety, scared of noises, scared of wind, scared of dogs, scared of … GRASS, yes we’ve seen it all. Dog’s that can’t be left alone but can’t be put with other dogs, dogs that can’t walk on leash, or off, can’t ride in the car, can’t get their nails done, can’t --- can’t ---CAN’T!

As my time with Doglando increased so did the ever burning question of why are these dogs so afraid? So tense? Through several long conversations, long articles for reading, and long amounts of time of contemplation, I realized that the city life for dogs is by far the most destructive to their natural lifestyle.

Follow me here: To go home I have to travel on two miles of dirt roads. Roads where you will see old beat up trucks and dogs just as old trotting a long side as the owners are on their way into town. My parents own 10 acres of property. Our land backs up to over ten thousand acres of natural preserve, home to bobcats, panthers, Florida bears, and wild hogs. We have a lake in which AL the three legged gator comes to live every summer. We own a horse, steer, chickens, quail, cats, and dogs, and occasionally a hog or two. Now get this: We have no sort of “dog proof” fencing, heck its not even cow proof as we have had several of our neighbors cattle come and visit over the years.
Ginger, Jack, and Shiba (my dogs) are primarily outside dogs, meaning they only come in at night, or when someone is not on the property. They chase ATVs, run alongside Bobcat Machines, lawn mowers, horses, cattle, chickens, cats, cars, and golf carts. Heck, they even ride on all of those things too. They hang out on the porch during thunderstorms, and dig in the shade during the hottest parts of the days. They go swimming, they hunt squirrels and rabbits (and Shiba will hunt chickens too). They chase off hogs, and dogs that are not their friends. They sleep, they wander, they dig. They roll in mud and wild animal scat. They play in puddles, and come home tired at the end of every day.

They are not perfect, but they are beautiful. And they are beautiful because of their lifestyle.

We view dogs as companions to OUR lives, without ever really considering that they have lives and needs of their own, beyond food, water, and shelter. Our need is them, just them, they are there when we need them, it doesn’t matter what they do as long as they are there our need is satisfied, but have you ever taken a moment to ask what theirs are?

If I asked Maya right now, what she needed from me, I think she would answer, space and freedom. Freedom to get over her city dog quirks, without the pressure of training and rewarding, timing and consistency. Freedom to explore the land, the dogs and other animals in it; the noises, smells, good and bad things to eat. Freedom to teach herself…

Freedom to be beautiful.

Now I ask again--- what is a beautiful dog?

1 comment:

Lynn said...

Jessica, thanks for your observations. What you say about city versus country dogs is true. For the first half of my life, I was around dogs running free with plenty of space and other dogs. Unless something unusual happened, they didn't get into fights, growl at people, cower, howl when we left home or bite kids. Now I have a city-reared dog I adopted from a rescue group, and she came with huge problems about noise, traffic, car rides, separation, knowing how to approach other dogs... Fortunately, most of them are behind her. But I live in a place where she has to be on leash all the time she's outside. Where neighbors don't want any dog feet to touch their grass even though the traffic tries to run us off the street and there are no sidewalks to use. It's not ideal, and it takes a lot of time to provide enough exercise and fresh air for her. Worth it, but you're right. Many dog problems come from the environment we people force upon them.