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Little dogs get away with more

For the last week we’ve been dog-sitting an elderly pair of miniature dachshunds. They are a cute pair, Sassy and Rosie. They’ve been both a joy and a curse. It’s fun to come home to a couple of wagging tails, on the other hand, I could’ve done without the 5am wakeup call.

I was taking them out for a walk on one of our last few days together and found myself twisted and tangled, being pulled in two different directions as they both strained mightily against their leashes. In the midst of this tempest I realized something; these dogs are badly behaved. They beg at the dinner table, they whine for attention, they constantly pull on their leashes, they bark at any dog that attempts to cross their path, and the oldest has a habit of snapping at anything that surprises her (since she is deaf and blind that can be just about anything).

It took me a full week to realize this. If, instead of being miniature dachshunds, they had been a pair of 70 pound black labs I think I might’ve noticed a little sooner.

Being a little dog can have it’s advantages. It’s easier to fly under the radar, make a lot of progress towards your own personal goals before anyone notices that you aren’t pulling their direction. You appear to be “going with the flow” but that may be because no one has noticed your quiet dissent. But there is a downside; if you do want to be an influence it can be hard to get noticed. If you are straining mightily at the leash you may quickly get pulled back onto the grass.

Being a big dog has it’s advantages. People take notice. They watch your body language to see where you might leap next. In a fight, you are the one they want on your side. But there is a downside; The impact of your missteps are so big they are bound to be noticed. Snapping at the neighbors might lead to the euthanizing needle instead of a swat with the newspaper.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with being one or the other, and in fact most of us play different roles depending on the group we are in. It’s more important to understand when you are playing the role and which role is appropriate to the situation. Generally there can only be 1 or 2 big dogs, and if you aren’t one of them, it might be better to embrace the role of the little dog and “go with the flow”. You might get things to go your way without anyone else noticing.

After all, I did wake up at 5am this morning to feed those dogs…

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