There has been a good deal of discussion on the Clean Run list the last few days regarding gender in agility. It started out as an observation and question about why there are so few men running agility in the United States. Over the days it has now morphed into a discussion regarding the gender preference of dogs and if one sex is more popular than the others in agility. More or less, it seems to balance out to 50/50 and some regions seem to sway more one way than the other.
If you go all the way back to the beginning of this blog, you'll see that I had many reservations about bringing home a girl dog. In fact, I was downright terrified and almost backed out. My entire life I've always had boy animals. You could not have paid me to have a mare when I had horses -- I just absolutely could not stand being around them. I always worried that I would have the same feeling towards female dogs, but I thought perhaps spaying would remove the hormonal aspect that worried me so much.
Because the following post from the Clean Run list struck such a chord with me, I'm just going to copy/paste it here:
"I think whether you like a male or a female dog depends on your own
training and working preferences, but there are differences. In
general, Males work FOR you, females work WITH you. Of course there
are exceptions, but in my experience most males want to make you happy
and are willing to please but also tend to get upset and hurt feelings
if you are mad, and tend to take things personally. The girls are
tougher mentally, not as interested in whether the heck you like it or
not, and more likely to have their own agenda. They mature faster and
are less likely to take guff from you.
Step on a male's toe and he's likely to apologize for getting his foot
in the way. Step on a female's toe and she's likely to cuss you out
for getting your damn foot in her way. I adore my boy but tend to
prefer the girls because I like dogs with some hardness. Others can't
stand the push back they get from the girls and prefer the boys.
Robin Nuttall with Pinhead and Dobes
Graphic and web design www.ddgraphix.net
And that, right there, sums up why I love boys so much. I just find them so easy to work with. Even on a bad training day, they are right there ready to try again because they really do want to please me. Even Kaiser in all of his independent "I don't need no one" ways, really does want to please me and he's always ready to play with me. Luke will literally go until he dies and rallies back from even the biggest blunders with an attitude that says, "Bring it on, what is next!" There is just a part of me that connects with the boys. I like their style.
Robin's last sentence more or less describes what has brought on this rambling post. The push back. And boy did I get that last night. I don't recall the last time I had such a miserable night of training with Secret. She more or less repeatedly gave me the big FU and wanted to do nothing.
I have, of course, contemplated why. Was she pissed off that I threw the apple she was playing with back over the fence at the rotten children that chucked it into my yard? Could be, considering the withering death stare she gave me when I did it. Or maybe she was mad at me because I had her locked in the house when Bethany & Rascal came over and I expected her to come out and run the course without having what she considered "proper time to meet & greet." Whatever the reason, Secret decided that she was not going to have anything to do with me OR agility last night.
Am I projecting stress already?? I set up Round 6 from the 2010 Championships last night. Another lovely hand-drawn course from watching videos. Alterations to my course were basically just substituting a hoop for the tunnel in the upper right corner and having the start & finish on a curve due to space constraints.
I brought Secret out of the house and she got a very brief hello with Rascal, who was tied up to the deck waiting his turn. She did her usual submissive show-your-belly maneuver and I told her to get up and go. She didn't even make it to the dog walk before she laid down and rolled over at me. Uh.... What? I changed toys several times and we never made it past the dog walk. When I did get her to go on the dog walk, she stuck at the end and wouldn't go on to the jumps (believe me, I bagged the idea of the distance line, so that wasn't it). She would just sit (literally) on the dog walk and bark at me.
Okay fine, into the house she went. Of course she knew I wasn't happy with her, so she rolled over on me a couple of times and then ran to the door with her tail between her legs. I let her sit in the house while all of the other dogs worked through the course.
When I brought her back out for another try, I could tell she still didn't have any desire to play with me. I tried to get her interested in her Jolly Ball briefly, and then I just grabbed Kaiser's treats. I figured that way I could at least get SOMETHING out of her. Nope. WHAT? Okay, I'm used to her being slow when food is used, but I'm not used to her NOT working for food. She just had no interest and sincerely, the look she was giving me came across as a giant "Screw you, lady." What?? What did I do??
I put her back in the house until Bethany & Rascal left. I brought her back out by herself and grabbed the frisbee. She did do a few catches, but refused to do any agility equipment for the frisbee. I grabbed the food again and this time we DID manage to get through the course (minus a major stick on the dog walk again) very slowwwwwwwly and I just called it quits and brought the boys out.
Suddenly miss prissy pants was all about playing -- with Kaiser. I put a stop to that ASAP, because if she wasn't going to play with me, she wasn't going to play with anyone. After letting her think about this for a bit, I grabbed a tug rope to see if she really did want to play. She did! And she even decided that going over some jumps before running back to me to tug would be fun! And contacts! And weaves! At one point she tugged so ferociously that she popped the handle right off the tuggy. And therein lies my mistake, because I left it lay on the ground while we played with the longer part.
She didn't care and we happily took off at the start of the course with enthusiasm and speed -- Until she hit the end of the dog walk and she saw that Luke had picked up the stray handle and was running around with it. Then she was done. She was stewing that Luke had her toy, even after I took it back. I finally said screw it and just quit for the night. I'll admit, I was upset by the events of the evening. I made Secret stay away while I hosed the boys off, telling her that she didn't do any work and didn't have any reason to get hosed off. I got the death glare from her again. Meh, deal with it.
Don't get me wrong, I know we have more good times than bad. I love my dog and I know she's amazing -- But I am pretty much 100% that my next dog will be another boy. While I have no doubt it challenges and improves me as a trainer, I don't think I'm cut out for the girls.
In other news, look what came in the mail this morning!!
It's for my Champs Team with Kaiser -- We are the "Kinetically Charged Syndicate" and we're going with purple, purple, purple! :o) Robyn made up some amazingly awesome personalized team shirts for each of us, we are currently testing the waters with dying the dogs (I spent the weekend playing with food coloring & kool aid, which didn't work -- so we'll have to bring out the big guns) and I found these SPARKLY hats online! Since those crazy kids seem to think they want to wear shorts in October ( :oP ), we are also looking into the idea of some silly tall socks. I didn't run in Team when I went to Champs in 2009, so I'm having fun getting into this. I guess Luke and I will also be running on a team with some great folks from the East coast. Due to some miscommunication I didn't realize this until yesterday, but we are looking forward to running on our Veteran Lab (or Lab mix, in Luke's case!) team. We are team "Dirty Old Men." lol