by Delinda VanneBrightyn

Working Dogs, a passion of life.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved and been fascinated by the natural world and all living things. Every weekend at the lake house, my mother used to catch and point out things for me to see and study. I spent hours in the woods exploring, communing and even talking to nature. For me, it was all alive, conscious and trying to tell me something. And, I learned to listen.  

My first dog was CoCo. I got her at around 5 years old and I promptly trained her myself to do a myriad of silly tricks, some involving my parakeet. The little blue bird rode around on her back and head and they became sweet friends. CoCo was such a sweet dog and would do most anything I asked of her. She was the current love of my life, but my life with her was far too short. She was poisoned by someone on Christmas eve.

Out of all that great big natural world, dogs have always quite intrigued me in their desire and ability to coexist with humans in ways not quite matched by other species. They are so perfectly suited to serve humans in a myriad of ways: through their natural abilities to hunt & scent, paralleled with their pack instinct and their propensity for territorial protection making them suited for so many tasks; herding, guarding, hunting, and finding.

But dogs also have another quality that make them especially suited. Their undying loyalty and often their ability to bond with another being in a way that tells them to sacrifice everything for the cause. Dogs can sometimes be loyal to a fault, but this unconditional loyalty or love is what has ingratiated them to the human race. Numerous quotes have been written about the noble character of the dog.....I can almost certainly guarantee as you read this, several will come to mind.

While most of us are deeply bonded with our pets and our pets to us, developing a relationship with a working dog takes this all to a new level for me, and I must relate, for most every person whom I have helped to train a dog as a working dog or as a working pet. The deepened relationship that results is truly a thing to behold.

I find that most dogs need a job, and giving them such most often makes them happier, more productive, and more confident than dogs that do not have a job. It doesn't really matter if they are pets or have been specifically, carefully selected to do a very specific task of service as a full working dog. Sometimes dogs without jobs create their own job, sometimes to the dismay of their people. Like us, dogs want to contribute, they want to have purpose and be valued. When we have a job with meaning to us, we are happier, more productive members of our community. Well, the same goes for dogs.....most dogs....there are those occasional couch potatoes too!

I must admit, I just love a working dog! The thought or site of a working dog just gets my blood going and puts the broadest of smiles on my face. There is not quite such a thing to behold as a highly trained, highly capable dog, focused on doing a job that, sometimes, humans could not do, or not do as well or as quickly without this magnificent 4-legged being. I never get tired of watching them, their finesse, their ability to solve a problem. The fact that they have taken what we have asked of them and then perform it in service to us is a beautiful symbiotic dance of which I never tire. And to see their own happiness come from this service completes the dance. They have not done this out of compulsion, but out of loyalty and the need to have purpose for their leader, the person they serve. 

I pay great homage and respect to the working dog, one of the greatest passions and loves of my life.


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