Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Meeting Buster

This is Buster. I saw his photo online, read the description given, and inquired, but a few still photos, a partially-read book about pointers, and words from strangers were not enough. What was missing from all that was the dog himself -- a unique, multi-dimensional creature with genetics and a history all his own. It was time for a trip in that direction anyway, so I decided to visit him to consider bringing him into our home.

I wanted to discover him within the context of relationship, to make a decision based on that reality rather than on breed summaries or on someone else's interpretation of this particular animal. Pointers tend to have a strong hunting instinct, endurance and energy, intelligence, loyal character, and bond well with families, including children. But what about this dog? How would he respond to us, to those of all ages who enter our home, to other animals? Would he follow our leadership? How much exercise does he need? What kind of training? What else would help him fulfill his potential in our home?

The online description -- basic obedience, leash-trained, housebroken, a few tricks -- definitely included some exaggeration. He pulled hard on the leash, walked underfoot, and at one point slipped out of his collar to investigate a cat. He sat on command... sometimes. It wasn't clear whether he didn't know "down" or simply wasn't willing. I didn't bother testing "stay." While not officially housebroken, he did seem motivated to take care of business outside. In fact, that seems to be a hobby he undertakes with great joy.

The photos, online description, and interactions with shelter volunteers seem to describe a different dog than the Buster I met. I was looking forward to meeting such a dog and would have quite readily brought him home. In the end, though, I chose to adopt Buster -- the real version, not the exaggerated one. We made the trip back home today, arriving this evening, and now the real work begins -- establishing roles and expectations, learning to communicate effectively, and establishing good routines. It'll be a process.

Welcome home, Buster.

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