Jack of all trades

By Scott Hunt – The Dog Grumbler

THERE was a tradesman at my house this week. He came to the back door and I couldn’t help but notice the huge Rhodesian ridgeback that stood behind him. We’d met before so the dog and I exchanged a few pleasantries, then I accompanied its boss to my bathroom and the job at hand.

The task took an hour or so and involved a couple of trips out to my front lawn where the builder’s truck was parked.

On each occasion the dog greeted us, stepping down from the cabin of the open vehicle and returning to doze behind the driver’s seat. Materials, tools and equipment littered the lawn and vehicle and pedestrian traffic was brisk and just a few metres away.

The dog had been to the back door, knew where its boss was, and while having no grasp of the point of the exercise, understood that there was work to be done inside and a job for the dog out here with the truck.

Since it is a particular interest of mine, I quizzed the workman about his dog.

She was a couple of years old and he’d acquired her at around age six months. She’d been accompanying him to work regularly since they met and wasn’t the first dog to do so.

She needed no instruction or guidance; on occasion he would tell her to move out of the way but for the most part she knew exactly what was required of her and seemed relaxed and confident about her responsibilities.

The tradesman assured me that the truck was always open, thus when he worked, his tools and equipment were always on display and no, nothing ever went missing — including the dog.

I asked him about training and he shrugged, “She’s just with me. She’s with me all the time.”

As I’ve said repeatedly, there is no limit to what a dog can and will do to be part of a good boss’ life. Often we attribute a successful dog/human relationship to breeding or luck, but in most instances this is what it boils down to: your dog is not meant to be alone.

This is a golden rule. Tradesmen’s dogs are usually the best behaved dogs I meet because they have had the opportunity to observe the boss’s routines, likes and dislikes and train themselves to fit in.

This is all a dog wants — all it asks of us.

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t have a dog if you must leave it at home while you work, but be aware that this is the single most determinant factor in your dog’s happiness.

Success comes not from taking the dog for a daily walk because it’s a responsibility, but in including it in your life and allowing it the time to absorb your routines and find its place in them.

Your dog would rather mind your car while you work or shop than stay at home and wonder what you are doing. It would rather wait on the footpath while you have coffee or lunch.

It’s a pack animal; it wants to be on a team. It may be best suited to one position or task on that team but it’s prepared to play any position on the field.

Don’t leave it in the change rooms — even sitting on the bench it can at least cheer you on.