Recently I dog-sat this big goofy dog for a weekend and it really made me start to think, why? Here is what I came up with.
There are a lot of reasons that I like to take care of other people's dogs:
1. To appreciate where Charlie is.
2. To motivate me to work more on Charlie's problems.
3. To see how other people interact with their dogs and ask owners questions.
4. To just love dogs and be around them.
From taking care of others' dogs I have realized that my dog is above the everyday family dog in training. Of course Charlie isn't really a family dog... He's mine.
When I dogsit a dog who can't sit I sometimes become frustrated because everyday things I do with my dog involve him sitting: to wait for food, go outside, get a toy, to pass other dogs and people on walks... ect. Charlie sits to do a lot of things. The day I got Charlie he knew sit. It is the only command he knows that I didn't teach him.
When I take care of a dog who knows something Charlie doesn't or who does things in a way I wish Charlie did I am often motivated to work with Charlie.
When I am walking a dog that loves people and we pass a little kid who asks to pet the dog I am often motivated to work with Charlie and his stranger issues.
When I am able to talk to other owners face to face before or after I take care of their dog I like to start conversations about how they think certain things should be done.
Anything from loose leash walking to vaccinations, or one time I even had a conversation with somebody about when a dog needs to be put down. I learn a lot about what other owners think and sometimes even research things they talk about and form completely different opinions on a subject then I had previously, before I talked to them.
And, of course I love dogs. I've never completely understood people who don't like dogs.
Now I haven't taken care of a lot of dogs. I've probably only watched 10 dogs on my own while owners are away on vacations and it isn't all fun.
When I was 13 I dog sat my neighbor's oversized Yellow Lab and Golden retriever for the first time while they went to Vegas. The dogs jumped, but not on you, just right in front of you and as soon as you reached their door they barked like they were going to go after you. Why didn't I stop taking care of dogs at this point?
Also that year I was watching a family friend's Vizsla who, on our walk, decided he wanted to go after a bird and I was dragged halfway across somebody's yard and looked up to see them staring out the window at me as I dusted off my pants, wiped off my shirt, and attempted to walk away like I knew what I was doing.
Why didn't I decide, when I was hurling across that yard desperately clinging to the leash, to end my dreams of caring for and owning every dog in the entire world? We may never know for sure, but I hope to continue to follow a slightly less ambitious dream (one where I wont own a few of the dogs in the world).
P.s. Current carreer madness: Vet Tech and Trainer for agressive dogs. Can I handle the needles? The teeth? Hopefully the job shadows i'm doing this summer will clear those up.