Observations of a Working Dog


Logo-rEver since Emily was a puppy she had a few chores to take care of. It’s makes her feel part of the pack and she enjoys contributing. We have a newspaper delivered to our driveway every morning so she can retrieve it. We’ve had to instruct over zealous newspaper carriers to not leave it on the front porch. It is Emily’s job to retrieve it everyday (our pooch is union), and the further away from the door the better.

I’ve noticed a few things about my dog’s desire to please us in her daily routine and how she completes her chores. I see many parallels between man and dog in their desire to do a day’s work.

1.  Emily loves to fetch the paper, and it shows in her excitement. She marches past the cat with it in her mouth every morning as if she were bragging, “look what I can do!.”  When we had two papers delivered she would make it a race to see how fast she could bring them both in. She likes to be recognized for her good work.

2.  During periods of unemployment (when we stopped getting the paper) she would become depressed. She felt lost without her morning routine. We tried to combat that by sneaking a decoy paper out at the end of the driveway every evening, so she could retrieve it the next day. But Emily knew our smell, and that of our paper carrier. I’d get the look of “what do you think I am, stupid?” She didn’t want welfare. She wanted to bring me a new paper everyday that I could intensely gaze at. She knew I wasn’t interested in an old newspaper because I never took it out of the bag.

3.  She hates to disappoint, so on those days when my newspaper carrier missed my house (or it was stolen) Emily would seek and find one somewhere else. Yes, she thought nothing of taking the neighbor’s newspaper. My dog is a problem solver.

4.  I learned that Emily hates to be micromanaged. In other words, she gets excited when I open the back door and trust her to run out toward the street, stop at the end of the driveway and retrieve the paper with no help from anyone else. But if I follow her out there halfway and watch her, she stops and looks at me. And I have to keep coaxing her. She’s far more eager to complete the task and do it quickly if I’m not watching her every move. She wants to be trusted.

5. She enjoys learning new tasks. I tried subscribing to the USA Today and was told they only have mail delivery in my area. That’s no good. I haven’t taught the dog how to open the mailbox yet. But I have taught her to deliver the mail to other household members. I put it in her mouth and she hunts them down with their daily mail call. It took her awhile to get the hang of it, but now she wags her tail whenever she sees me head to the mailbox. However, she’s disappointed on holidays, and other days when the mailbox is empty.

Nine years of training and watching my little employee with four legs has been an interesting observation. Successful companies understand how to hire people who are passionate about their task and trust them to get it done. In all my jobs this held true for me too. We can learn a lot from our critters.

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