22 August 2008

One Track Mind

When a person has a passion about something that consumes their thoughts day and night, they may be referred to as obsessed. The object of their adoration could be a new love, a new hobby or interest or a new possession. In the dog world, this level of passion is labeled as “high-drive.”

The two types I am familiar with are prey drive and play drive. A dog with a high prey drive would be one that chases things that move. Not specifically to kill them, but to chase them. They excel in competitions such as lure chasing. Racing dogs, I imagine, would have a high prey drive because they chase an object around the track, and the fastest one wins.

My German shepherd dog is a perfect example of a dog with a high play drive. Playing catch makes his day. His concentration, a.k.a. focus, on the toy that you have in your hand is a sight to behold. He is not at all motivated by food, however he will do almost anything you request of him as long as you are holding a toy. His eyes will not leave that toy. If he’s taken off running before you’ve thrown the ball, he’ll run off into the yard to catch a pass with his head craned sideways so he can maintain his focus on the ball.

All of his toys have names and he’s pretty good at associating the name with the designated toy. My husband refers to the toys as soldiers. Our two favorite games are hall-ball and sits-ball. During the game of hall-ball, a soldier will occasionally make it’s way under a piece of furniture and will require a rescue operation with the use of either my cane or Mr. Pinchything (a tool designed to assist a person with picking up small objects off of the floor). If one of his soldiers is in peril, he will lay there and watch it and not take his eyes off of it until it is rescued and safely back in his mouth. He will bark to make you aware of the urgency of the situation in the event you are taking too long to respond.

I thank God everyday that He brought this dog into our lives; that He entrusted us to be his stewards. During the eight years he’s been with us, he has enriched our lives in countless ways. He has given us many hours of entertainment, and he’s lavished us with his love and loyalty. He taught me things no human could have. Because of him, I’ve learned so much about dogs in general. I learned how intelligent these beasts are. I discovered I have more love to give than I thought possible. And I learned that if you look at a ball long enough, it will move – someone will pick it up and throw it to you.

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