Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rhodesian Ridgebacks and hermeneutics

In modern philosophy (hermeneutics) we know that it isn’t just the “text” that should be considered, but the reader of that text.  The reader always brings something to his reading.  Something like that is true of dog training as well.   Those who say a “text” must mean one thing and one thing only to whomever reads it are living in the past.  We have different abilities, different experiences, different interests and we need to recognize that what we get from a text (or a dog) won’t necessarily be what someone else gets.

I have had Ridgebacks since 1986 and have never been challenged.  I have never had a Ridgeback be pushy or insistent on getting his or her own way.  Why is that?  It isn’t necessarily the dogs I happened to have acquired.  I have a rather forceful personality and have observed that my dogs just want to do what I want.   I don’t have to do any of those “how to dominate your dog” things. 

There is evidence that Canis Familiaris and Homo Sapiens have had a symbiotic relationship from almost the very beginning of their existences – not the mere 15,000 years that anthropologists (and many dog books) have suggested.  In all those years there have surely been countless relationships.   There was never “just one way” to relate to a dog, or how to train one. 

The “how to dominate your dog” tricks are for people who aren’t naturally dominate.  Yeah, if you aren’t a very dominate person and happen to get a dominate dog, then you had better learn some of those tricks.   A meek person might want to avoid the alpha male or female if she has the choice.

Of course getting the runt of the litter has its own set of problems.  My German Shorthaired Pointer Heidi was the runt.  Furthermore, when we saw her she was trying to hide from her litter mates.  She was not only the runt but a picked-on runt.  Heidi needed to be encouraged rather than dominated and that’s what we did.  She blossomed beautifully.  She became a marvelous girl and I still miss her.  Some people might find it easier to encourage the runt than dominate the alpha female.

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