Saturday, April 11, 2009

Apples and oranges

A year ago, an agility instructor asked what had drawn me to having dogs of two very different breed types, Lucy being mostly scenthound and Walter mostly German shepherd. I had never thought about it that way before, but the more I thought about it the more I realized they really are very different from each other in so many ways, whether due to their breed or just normal dog to dog uniqueness. So, I thought I'd make a list of some of their differences.

To Lucy, strangers are friends she hasn't met yet who just might have something edible to give her. To Walter, strangers are to be approached with reservation and caution. (Though he has come a LONG way in this department thanks to a lot of helpful "strangers".)

Lucy is calm and sits quiety while waiting for her collar and leash to be put on for a walk. At the mention of "do ya wanna go fer...", Walter barks, spins, barks, jumps, barks, then finally leaps onto the stairs where he gets his collar and leash put on.

Riding in the car, Lucy is calm and quiet all the way between home and destination. Walter is fairly calm and quiet until we exit the highway. He has decided that the sound of the turn signal combined with my hand reaching for the stick shift as we exit the highway can only mean we're almost there. Cue hyperactive bark-barking for the next five minutes!

To Lucy, tugging and toys are ok for a few minutes, but nothing is more exciting than the prospect of something (anything) edible. For Walter, treats are ok, but nothing is more exciting than the prospect of a thrown toy or game of tug.

Lucy finds onleash walks and skijoring to be relaxing and enjoys every minute from start to end. So many smells to be smelled! Walter considers onleash walks and skijoring to be only a means of getting from point A to point B. "Are we there yet?"

Lucy can be offleash only where small furry animals or large furry deer are scarce. She has a good recall unless she's entered Hound Mode. Walter can be offleash anywhere and has a great recall.

Lucy is a resource guarder with other dogs (except Walter). She thinks all treats belong to her and Walter. Walter has no problem sharing his treats with other dogs and will sit politely beside them while everyone is given a treat.

Lucy is the submissive dog at home but seems to put on airs of dominance with strange dogs. Walter is the top dog at home but is not so sure of himself with strange dogs.

Lucy thinks big, tall, macho male dogs are the hottest thing ever. (Walter being the exception because he's just a big goof.) Walter thinks big, tall, macho dogs are kind of scary until he gets to know them.

Lucy snores to beat the band. Walter wakes himself up with a start everytime he farts.

At home, Lucy hangs out mostly in the living room regardless of where I am in the house unless it's the kitchen, in which case she is totally there. Walter will rouse himself from all but his deepest, coziest naptime slumber to follow me from room to room.

At home, when she's not hanging out in the living room, Lucy is always getting in my way and tripping me up (or vice versa, of course). Walter seems to know where I'm going before I do so we rarely trip over each other. (See Roxanne's post about this same difference between her two dogs.)

For all their differences, of course they have some things in common. For instance, both are terrific at walking on leash. If by walking on leash you mean pulling my arms out of their sockets!

Back to the instructor's question about why a hound and a german shepherd... The answer is that at the time I got Lucy and Walter I really didn't know anything about the different breeds (woops, bad dog adopter I was! no research at all! tsk tsk!) and wasn't involved in any dog sports at the time so my only criteria for a dog was that it be youngish. Through involvement in the dog sports community I've learned a lot about different breeds, so my next dog acquisition will be a bit more researched, though s/he will most likely be just another mutt looking for a home. :-)

1 comment:

Elf said...

Fun post. I'm sometimes amazed at how different my dogs are--and sometimes all of my historical dogs from each other, too. Odd to think back to times when dogs were just dogs to people.