Thursday, February 10, 2011

Socialization biscuits and delivery people

Last week I got to see Molly, my 14 year old Brittany, interact with our fuel oil delivery guy. I'd like to invent an award for most favorite delivery person because if there were such an award, he would win it hands down. The morning of the ice storm last week, the clinic where I work was put on a 2 hour delay in opening so that none of the staff had to drive to work during the early morning when the roads were the most treacherous. So instead of going out to start my car and clear ice off the windshield at 8am, I was doing this chore at 10am. Molly followed me outside and as we walked toward the driveway, the fuel oil delivery truck pulled up. From all the years I have lived on the farm, I know the driver's name is Jessie. I said hi to him as he was getting out of the truck and I continued on over to where I had parked my car in the driveway. Now I know Molly is a good social sort of dog, but I am rarely home when the fuel oil gets delivered so I don't really know how she behaves around delivery guys. I've just never had a complaint and I almost always follow the "no news is good news" way of thinking. Molly has lived on the farm since a year and a half old and is trained to stay in the yard so most days when no one is at home, she is outside keeping the yard safe from, well, really not safe from much of anything. Mostly she sleeps with the cats on the front porch. So when delivery people come to the house, she is free to greet them or chase them or whatever. Last week was a rare opportunity for me to watch Molly and Jessie interact.

Jessie got out of the truck, stopped for a minute, reached for something inside the truck and closed the truck door. Molly saw him and trotted over to him. Jessie reached down and patted her head and gave her a dog biscuit. Molly was wiggly and wagging. Another dog cookie was fed before Jessie unrolled the hose and started filling our fuel oil tank. Molly followed him. As he was waiting for the tank to fill, he knelt down and was scratching Molly behind the ears and talking to her. I couldn't hear what was being said if much of anything. Dog cookies 3 and 4 were fed during this time. Molly loves Jessie.

I feel for delivery people and having to deal with all sorts of dogs. I live in the country. I am a big bike rider. I have been chased by my share of farm dogs both mean and friendly. I know what delivery people have to put up with. But it does my heart good, to know that their are delivery people out there who are smart enough to realize making a life long friend is a good goal to accomplish if possible.

I had a similar experience with a Fed Ex driver. It was probably 5 or 6 years ago, but I was headed home in the middle of the day and as I drove down my road toward my house, I saw a Fed Ex truck pull into my driveway. Again, I was wondering how Molly was going to act toward the Fed Ex guy so I purposefully slowed down so I could watch what happened from a distance. The Fed Ex driver got out and as he started walking up the sidewalk to the front porch, Molly came trotting off of the porch to greet him. He promptly tossed a couple dog biscuits her direction which she happily ate while he put the package on the porch. Another delivery, another positive experience for the dog. It's no wonder she likes delivery people so much. Good thing we don't get more deliveries or I would be wondering why my dog was getting fatter.

For years, I've been passing out a handout called "Socialization Biscuits" that was given to me by Dr. Wayne Hunthausen. Dr. Hunthausen is a veterinarian who does a lot of behavior consultations to help owners with their pet's behavior problems and he writes and co-writes a lot of behavior handouts and articles. His hospital's web page can be found here. But I love the Socialization Biscuit handout. Getting puppies started off on the right foot, or perhaps I should say paw, is so important to good behaviour later in life. But even as dogs get older, I think we tend to forget that they need positive encounters all the time to keep them happy and well balanced. I am blessed that my dog Molly has had so many good encounters with some very savvy delivery people. I know this is not always the case and that's where trouble can start.

I am glad I can trust Molly around strangers. That is a blessing in and of itself. But it's also nice to know there are plenty of people out there who know that you can catch more flies with honey. Being positive and friendly gets you into a lot more places than being scared and/or grumpy. I need to go invent my favorite delivery person award now.

No comments:

Post a Comment