After several years of reading political posts on FB, my blood pressure had hit a level that made nurses race out of the room in alarm. I made a healthy choice, I thought, by dropping all the political stuff and loading up my account with all-dog posts. Breed-specific posts. Dog sport posts. Dog training posts. Single variable posts (such as smooth-coat Border Collies or I Love Bostons). Occasionally another animal slips in – an elephant rescuing her baby or a giraffe kissing her baby’s head. This seems safe, right?
Now the dog posts have started to make me think I may need more medication. I try to breeze through, but then I hit the wall at a question that has been posted 5,742 times and answered thoughtfully each time by dozens of people. People who respond to these questions over and over are either saints or need to get a life.
To put it bluntly, reading these posts and then deciding to answer them is not a good use of our time. The energy expended in one year answering requests for assistance with housetraining alone could power a nuclear plant.
I have never been one for whining without having an alternate plan. The plan I am proposing is designed to save time, energy, and keep our blood pressure in the 120/80 range.
We will sort all dog posts into five categories. I share these groupings below.
We assign one person to each category—a spokesperson—and they are responsible for responding to every post in their category with a simple, pre-determined post. This may be full-time. The rest of us can go binge-watch a new series, walk our dogs, or take a nap. If there are multiple applicants for spokesperson in any category, we will draw straws. The position will last for one year, which is as long as any nervous system can handle.
The five categories and the responses to them are:
The Benign post sometimes includes a photo of a dog with no text and often says, “This is my xxxx, Jack.” These posts are fine as long as the dogs are alive and not chained to a doghouse. There are also innocent questions such as whether your Border Collie licks, barks, or what you feed.
The spokesperson’s response to the Benign post will either be Adorable or Yes. Period. The rest of us, tiptoe quietly away.
The Annoying post is generally framed to be cute. These posts often ask readers to guess a dog’s breed. I resist the mean urge to guess Shar Pei crossed with a goat. In another type of question, the dog owner asks readers to guess the dog’s name. Really? How is this a good use of my time?
In the first case, the spokesperson’s response to the Annoying post will be: It does not matter. Your dog is adorable or darling or handsome. You may pick your own adjective. In the case of guessing the dog’s name, the answer given will be Bella for a girl or Charlie for a boy. These are the most common dog names so you will have a good chance of being correct.
The Dog Skin post highlights pictures of some dog’s skin in varying states of decay and ickiness. If you enjoy dandruff and scaly skin with a highlight of redness, you will feel at home here. The FB readers cannot resist leaping in here with cures, but I rarely make it this far since I am fighting my gag reflex.
The spokesperson’s response to the Dog Skin post will be either: Try coconut oil or get your dog to the vet. The rest of us can sip some ginger ale to settle our stomachs.
The Dog Injury post is where things get scary. People post every variety of injury, growth, and disease. A photo might say, “My dog just had a run-in with a tractor. What should I do?” Readers peer closely and say, “Yup, that might need some stiches.” And we are talking a lot of stiches. Divergent input about magic pastes and other farm injuries is not helpful here.
Although this is a disturbing category, the spokesperson has the easiest response: Get in the car and take your dog to the vet. The rest of us should move away quietly, pet our pups, and thank our lucky stars we don’t own a tractor.
Lastly, there is the Training Advice category. It covers a wide range from endless tales of woe with house training to serious behavioral issues. For example, “My dog just tore the pant leg off the Fed Ex driver.” Since there is not one approach to training, the current responses are wildly divergent from all-positive training to dominance-based training. It would be blind luck if the person with the problem selected and applied the best approach.
The spokesperson for the Training Advice category must be light on their feet since the span of issues is so broad. For housetraining, they will refer the person to the McCann training video on YouTube. No more needs to be said. For common puppy problems like nipping, the response should be to locate a kind local trainer or find a good on-line class somewhere like the Fenzi Academy. For a serious problem, the only answer is to suggest locating a well-respected behaviorist even if it means traveling across several states.
These are new ideas. I am open to input about the system. You can also post your ideas on our FB page at Our Dog Pack. That said, I am taking applications at firstname.lastname@example.org for these five positions as spokesperson. I look forward to your responses.