Clients...translated- people...slay me. Having trained dogs now for 33 years ever since graduating from college, my view of people has metamorphasized. Now I am fairly certain that most people are at minimum function in their lives. Teaching classes as I do is a most revealing process. It is a window into the bigger day to day functioning of each person's life.
Over the years I have mellowed substantially in my expectations and communications with clients. My repeat clients tell me so. I know so. But in fact what has taken place is that my expectations of people have lowered exponentially.
In classes right now I have a fistfull of the disfunctional. There is the very nice and passive girl with the 5 month old downright aggressive female Rodesian Ridgeback. That dog will eat her one day if she makes life inconvenient enough or even slightly less accomodating. In the past I would have been riding her at every class to force the issue as I saw it and change the dynamic. Not now. Because to do so I would have to totally change who the woman is. That will never happen. So I watch as she makes nice and adapts herself to the pushy aggressive demands of her adolescent dog. I offer help as I can, knowing it is the tip of the iceberg and only scratching the surface. We will have a serious discussion about my concerns for their future together. It will not change anything.
Then there is the chain smoking drunk who shows up for class 30 minutes late every single week with debris and papers falling out of her car and purse, a puppy who bites, having accomplished no homework. This week the puppy had diarrhea before class so the woman brought her neighbor's pet toy poodle to train assuming this was perfectly fine....not. She left class after continuously interupting with inane questions, forgetting her purse and a mess of papers abandoned in a heap on the ground.
Instead of listening to the teaching during class and the imparting of my infinite wisdom, she furiously paged through her workbook looking for some imagined passage that said she could bring another dog to class to train if hers could not attend...not.
Then there is Butter. Rescued a few weeks before class began. A creamy colored-oh yeah, butter colored beagle chihuahua mix whose new owner does his homework to perfection and has the sweetest, most attentive and appreciative little companion in this wonderful dog. She devotedly heels and automatically sits, she downs from a distance, she performs like some top notch obedience competition dog all in 6 weeks of ownership and 4 weeks of classes.
What a contrast.
The stories go on and on. Private lesson clients who pay me alot of money up front, take one lesson and never call again. Group class students who come twice and are never heard from again. It was too much work. It was not the magic they had hoped for. Easier to leave the dog alone and operate life around the issues and inconveniences.
Statistics say that shelters are full because of bad canine behavior. It is the number one reason given for surrendering dogs. I'm doing my part, I guess.