Hundreds of times over the years I’ve heard pet owners express the mistaken belief that all members of a certain breed of dog or cat would look and act identically.
Certainly choosing a member of a particular breed adds to the predictability of some characteristics, yet we must remember that they are not clones.
Several times each week Brenda and I look at each other and say about Willie, “He’s no Pearl.” We are in the process of teaching Willie to remember his manners when he plays tug-of-war with us and his fluffy toys. Too often he forgets to pay attention to where his teeth are going to land, and ends up grabbing the end of the toy we are holding.
Pearl, also a poodle, had an endearing habit of being extremely careful never to put her teeth on us. When given a treat, we almost had to push it toward her, because she would take it so gingerly that she would barely touch it as she took it from you. She loved for us to hold a rawhide chew for her, but, when she got close to the part you were holding she would give you this sweet look that said, “You can let it go now, I don’t want to chew on your fingers.”
I’ve heard people expect cats of the same breed to act just alike, as well as cats of the same color.
Every animal is an individual. Just as surely as our sons are twins and have similarities and black-and-white differences, so it is with pets.
If you have strong, specific needs and expectations of a pet, it certainly pays to choose a member of a breed you are familiar with. Our choice of a poodle when we lost our Peyton and our Pearl improved our chances of getting a dog with certain characteristics. On the other hand, Willie has taken some getting used to after 18 years of Pearl’s predictability.
So, don’t be shocked if you have had German shepherds all of your life and your next one behaves differently from all of your previous ones.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.