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Friday, Aug 23 2013 04:00 PM

SHERRY DAVIS: Sometimes a dog is just that -- a dog

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    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Columnist Sherry Davis.

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BY SHERRY DAVIS Contributing columnist

The oft-quoted line from a 1913 Gertrude Stein poem declaring "a rose is a rose is a rose" means that things are often just what they are or appear to be, nothing more.

An analogy for dog owners might be that a dog is a dog is a dog,

And although it may be influenced by its environment, its relationship with its owners and previously learned behaviors, at its instinctual core it will behave like a dog. Nothing more.

So when an owner tells me their perfectly mannered dog has suddenly committed some criminal act of betrayal because it is punishing them or acting out in spite, and punctuates this statement with such cringe-inducing accusations as "He knows better" or "He's getting even for ... (name that slight)," it's time for me to push the error buzzer.

Anthropomorphism is the phenomena of attributing human motivations and characteristics to animals. Aided by a billion dollar pet industry, anthropomorphism is at an all-time high. Owners are encouraged to replace their long-held perception of the dog as the faithful and loyal companion of its owner to a new-age one in which people refer to themselves as "pet parents" and apply human values and reasoning when faced with problem canine behavior.

And while I'll be the first to acknowledge that our dogs possess a depth of feelings, sensitivity and emotions as well as quantified levels of intelligence based on "human" standards, there are no documented cases showing that dogs possess the cognitive reasoning necessary to formulate and carry out conspiracy plans or vendettas against their owners.

For example: I have never allowed any of the Newfoundlands up on the furniture. They shed and they slime and do enough damage from ground level.

So although I was shocked when Frank brazenly jumped up and settled himself onto the middle of my bed last week, I didn't jump to the conclusion that he was getting back at me for leaving him home and taking Gilly to class, or for the unforgivable offense of working late and past his usual dinnertime.

Instead, a quick appraisal of the situation revealed that Gilly had taken Frank's favorite place on the cool tile of the fireplace and Frank had simply chosen another equally comfortable spot in which to lie.

Sometimes a dog is just a dog.

-- Sherry Davis is a dog trainer/owner of CSI 4 K9s. Email her at csi4k9s@yahoo.com. These are her opinions, not necessarily The Californian's.

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