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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dog Owners Can Be Competitive

You learn interesting things about dog owners when you become one.  My wife and I recently got a golden retriever we named Lucky.  For each of us, it was the first dog we'd owned as adults, and we both grew up with dogs.

So, first off, we noticed that people are not shy about telling you negative things about your dog they notice.  Could it be they are jealous?  We still don't get it.

A common one is people noticing the color of his nose and then telling us we'll never be able to "show" him.  Why would you ever think to tell someone this?  It's as if they think that all dog owners became dog owners because they wanted to eventually enter them in dog shows or something.  We just simply thought it would be nice to have a dog, and it has been, except people pointing out what's wrong with him.

Another person said oh, he's got clouds in his eyes and will lose his eyesight.  The vet we took him to tells us there's absolutely nothing wrong with his eyes, his nose color, or anything else for that matter, and that he's in perfect health.

We also noticed that some people enjoy complaining about their own dogs to you, and then when around yours, complain about yours as well, as if that's something they have in common with you to talk about.  It makes you wonder why they got a dog in the first place!  We liken it to meeting someone and telling them their kids are dumb or their house is ugly, or telling them your own kids are dumb or that your own house is ugly.  You just don't say those kinds of things in polite society, right?  These are people who appear to be educated and even sophisticated otherwise.

These are just things we wouldn't ever do, despite thinking them.  Why should dogs be any different?  I must point out here that we are a couple who does not have children, and perhaps treat our dog a little more like we would a child than most.  If we were lucky enough to have children though, we certainly wouldn't ever complain about them to other parents, just as we wouldn't ever complain about each other to our family or friends.  In fact, I get angry when I hear people complain about their spouse, their kid, their dog, etc.  I always think to myself, "why in the world would you choose to get married or become a parent in the first place?"  Same goes for a pet in my way of thinking.

If I have some complaint about my spouse, I take it up with her, not other people.  That's just how I live my life.  Now, I realize it's a common thing for women to complain about the men in their lives when in the company of other women.  Even so, I personally wouldn't dream of ever uttering a negative word about my spouse to anyone but her.

Maybe I'm unusually sensitive about this sort of thing and it truly is commonplace for pet owners to complain about their pets to each other - a misery loves company thing.  To me though, it's a free country, and so if you don't like your spouse or house or car or dog or whatever, you can get a new one, so this remains a mystery.

The reason we named our dog Lucky is that we feel very fortunate to have him, and appreciate the joy he brings to our lives.  Maybe people don't appreciate what they have enough, maybe not like they used to.  Maybe the economic downturn will reverse this apparent trend we've observed, or maybe it's simply by random chance that we've run across several people like this lately.  The more I think about it (and write about it), the more I lean toward a conclusion that indeed, we got a great dog, and these other people are expressing envy or jealousy (never sure of the difference between those two words, but it's gotta be one or both).

There, I feel better now.

The post up to this point was from 2009.  Fast forward to 2014 here as I provide new info due to re-posting this older blog to consolidate my two different blogs to get rid of one.

As an update, the wife and I are now on our 2nd golden retriever now, Levi, who we got as a puppy after we had to have Lucky put to sleep.  It’s surprising how attached you get to a dog, and that sure was hard.  Puppy training, which we didn’t have to go through with Lucky, gave me a new perspective on this whole thing.  We did several group dog training classes, or sets of classes.  In these, although you’re proud when your dog excels, you’re also much more sympathetic to other owners’ plights, as you’re all in the same boat.  We were spoiled with Lucky.  You also realize animals aren’t a whole lot different than human kids, where they are born with a certain personality, and they’re all a little different, making them by nature easier or more difficult to train.

How does this all relate to songwriting and recording, you might wonder?  Well, Lucky served as a spiritual producer, and now Levi is in training for the same.  You learn a lot from dogs’ reactions to music, which is not unlike human audience feedback, you just have to get to know the dog well enough to pick up on it.  They have outstanding hearing, so that qualifies them uniquely well.  In addition, you can run your ideas by a dog and get their non-verbal reaction.  They listen well, of course, and much of the time, they understand what we’re talking about.  Much smarter than the average person would believe.  Sometimes it just helps to have someone to be there nearby, and you talk about your ideas out loud, which in and of itself, allows you to come to the right conclusion.  Dogs are great for this, and because of this fact, they are an invaluable weapon in the home recording studio.  Such advantages allow you, the dog-owning songwriter, to stay competitive in the music business via underrated quality control to bring your fans the best music possible.