You may have read about the performance review I gave to my dog, Bailey. I discovered that most of my disappointments in his performance were more about how I did not effectively manage him in the first place. Once I figured that out, I changed my approach and what do you know – his performance improved. Funny how that works.
I thought it was about time to sit down with him and give him an update. He’s doing better, I want him to know that I see that, and I also want to start to stretch him to a higher level of performance. I don’t like having a once-a-year how-can-you-improve discussion. I prefer to reinforce individual growth whenever I can.
Bailey threw me a curve ball. He came to the discussion armed with a note from his vet. He has a luxating patella on his left hind leg, and now he has some physical limitations. Apparently, under the Dogs with Disabilities Act, I can no longer have any of the following objectives or work assignments for him:
- Pulling a sled, even as part of a team
- Carry brandy or other liquids around his neck, even to rescue someone
- Run and jump after a frisbee that is more than half his body weight – which is, like, all frisbees
- Herd the sheep – which is no big deal, as I have none
- Fetch the morning paper – again, no big deal. My computer fetches the morning paper
In addition, under a reasonable accommodations provision, he does not have to jump up on the couch when we call him, he can come to us but he can choose to have us pick him up if we wish to have him sit beside us or on our laps. What can he do? He’s allowed to eat and sleep, and he can manage the stairs OK so he can still go play in the yard.
In short, my dream of having him be useful for anything other than that having-pets-relieves-stress thing seems to be over.
All things considered, that stress relief part is the most important job he has, it’s the job we brought him on for, and he continues to excel at that.