I’ve heard people say how dogs tend to imitate their owners, and I’ve seen the proof many times. My favorite example is from back when I walked the neighborhoods with several other teens to sell coupon books for our annual fundraiser.
We knocked on a door in one of our spiffier neighborhoods and a tall, skinny gentleman in slacks and a collared shirt answered the door. He was bald, with pointed features and pale skin. In his arms was a whippet: skinny, lanky, with a pointed nose and sandy-colored fur, looking dignified as that breed tends to.
It was all I could do not to bust out laughing.
Closer to home is Jo’s dog. Looks-wise, they aren’t similar unless she dyes her hair. He’s a lab mix: stocky, wrinkly, and short-haired. It’s their personalities that match so well. Jo – despite being a nanny and having to be at work by 7:00 every weekday – is not a morning person. She used to growl whenever someone came in to wake her before noon (now she admits to growling internally). She huddles under her blankets and could sleep through a tornado. She also likes being around people.
Her dog is happiest when he is buried under covers. Once Jo leaves, he takes over her bed, and he is always put out if he is stirred before 10:00. Yes, he will growl if we try to move him earlier than that. In addition, he is always excited to meet new people.
And then there is myself and my dog: suspicious of strangers, territorial, loud, hyperactive, always misjudging corners and thus running into them, nosy, heliophilic, and in love with rain. But our biggest similarity is our love of food.
Food is the best way to motivate my dog. She rarely behaves out of a pure desire to please me, though she does appreciate belly and ear rubs. What she is most often looking for is the tasty pay-out. From the start she equated good behavior with treats, and she associates everything according to the amount of food involved. (E.G. Strangers rarely bring food, and thus are despicable, whereas going to the crate on command almost always results in a reward and so is a good place to be.)
Meanwhile, one of my hobbies is cooking. Jo remarked recently how I always got happy when I was making food, which I didn’t even realize. It’s actually as cathartic for me as gardening. I love discovering new flavors, learning about how different foods interact, and making up my own recipes based on my cravings (which can usually be summed up as “I want something savory”).
And maybe it’s latent resentment from an entire summer living off of powdered milk instead of liquid, but I learned to never turn down an offer for free food. Or maybe it’s just my Baptist upbringing…? The promise of food is typically enough to outweigh the threat of crowds of people, even on my super introverted days:
Family member: “There’s this social event coming up. You should come.”
Me: “I don’t like people. I have plans.”
Family member: “You need to socialize.”
Me: “I get paid to be around people all day. I’m not going to waste my free time on it.”
Family member: “There will be food.”
Me: “I’m in.”
And that brings us to the annual fundraiser at work. As the Administrative Assistant, and given the fact that I’ve helped develop most of the materials for the event, I was offered a free ticket to attend. I went back and forth with myself for a few days about whether or not I would accept:
“There will be food. And you know it will be good. Free food means you don’t have to plan something for supper, or buy it, or find a spot in the kitchen to prepare it.”
“But people. Crowds of people, and I’ll have to put on my professional smile because I’ll be representing work.”
“Like anybody is going to care. They’ll be distracted by the food.”
“But it’s an adult function, with an auction and speeches and everything.”
“Did I mention the food?”
So yes. I go where the food is. Which means that today I’ll actually put on makeup for work so I don’t have to worry about it later, and once work is out I’ll be going to a fundraiser to stare at over-priced silent auction items, eat some buffet food, and try to behave like a respectful adult.
On the bright side, I’m free to leave after 9:00 and tomorrow is Jean Day at work.