After reading Kristen’s post titled “How to Love a Bully, Fowl, and Yourself,” I was initially empathetic to poor T Rex in his dog obedience school. As I sat in my own class, “Information Systems in Libraries and Information Centers,” I felt a kindred spirit with the dog. Both of us have to survive weekly classes that make us better up-standing citizens and teach us how to conform to society’s behavioral expectations. We wait quietly while we are directed to perform whatever whims our instructors have decided upon and are judged by our tough exteriors while we are really sensitive, loving beings inside (okay it was a long class – maybe this is pushing it!). The point is that after I spent some time pondering these similarities it struck me…Rex’s classes are WAY better than mine, and here are the reasons why I would swap my plight with his:
1. Simple Tasks
– Just think for a moment how easy an A would be if your tasks included: “go right”; “go left”; “sit”; “stay”. I would trade my upcoming 30 page analysis of integrated information systems for a simple “stop growling at the strangers” assignment in a heart beat. Yes, I know you will say dogs are dumb and that is a lot for them to handle…yada yada. But did you know that some scientist think sperm whales assign unique names? I pose the question; do we really know how much a species is capable of?
– Upon successful completion of the simple tasks assignment you receive a reward for the accomplishment. Sometimes, you just receive rewards as a distraction from other tempting things that could draw you off course. Additionally, the rewards are awesome! Give me a food prize any day of the week and you will find a new best friend. As a long time vegetarian it would be fantastic not to worry about the socio-political, environmental, ethical treatment and health reasons to not eat chicken. Just eating something because it tastes delicious? Sign me up.
3. Positive Reinforcement
– Then, after receiving a reward for performing the simple task, you get the added bonus of being smothered with positive statements: “what a good dog”, “such a fast learner”, “that’s my baby, no biting today”, “see your not a dummy”, etc. What the hell? I want some encouraging statements! I would be way more successful and motivated if I got affirmations like: “what a good human”, “she’s so smart”, “that’s my student, no throwing desks today”, “no L on your forehead”, etc.
4. Hanging with your Fav
– Throughout your class period you get to hang out with your most favorite person in the world. How cool would it be to work through all these difficult problems and scenarios but know that your BFF has your back? You get to travel together, take class together, and laugh heartily while you talk about what crazies the instructors are (note: conversations may be one sided).
5. Undivided attention
– Most importantly for a couple hours a week, all the attention is on you. Everyone struggles with lack of notice. None of us really get sufficient one-on-one time, unless you are fortunate enough to afford a therapist. If you were born in a litter, packed into an overcrowded public school system, went to an insanely large college, or have to commute using public transportation, you understand what I am talking about. Don’t get me wrong, I am “Miss Anonymous” but that is only with people I hate (aka 90% of the population), if I got praise from my fav (see #4) the whole time? That is a whole different ball game.
6. Someone else is paying
– Think of it fellow and former students, how cool would it be if someone picked up your higher education bills? Not only just covered the cost, but didn’t even worry you about them. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.
7. “In this course, I mostly learn about myself”
– What?!? Okay, let me get this straight, dogs go to class in order to be trained. Yet, the humans have to learn too? That is crazy town. Don’t get me wrong, I realize the necessity of commands, consistency, pack dynamics, and so on. But, when you really think about it, owners are taking the verbal beatings while the dog gets off painlessly in its own class…way to “sluff off” your coursework Fido.
8. He is a dog
– Dogs got it so damn easy. No bills, responsibilities, insecurities, philosophical dilemmas, etc. They have their food on time, prepared, and served. They can sleep all day. All a dog has to do is worry about not biting someone. I know that all of us, at some point, have envied or even been jealous of our pets and their lives. I have been trying for years to figure out ways my two furry residents could contribute to the household. But alas, we just have to suck it up and hope that the Buddhists are right. I just pray my “bag-o-good deeds” will be enough to secure me a spot in the pet world next round.