April 22, 2003
THE LABRADOR RETRIEVER - Page 1
Don't be alarmed. There is Breaking News from CNN. Let's go the report:
A stunning piece of news has just come into our station. Around the world, leaders in every field including the heads-of-state have agreed to step down. Based on a recognition that their leadership has been making our world more dangerous, they have decided to try a radical, untested strategy.
Are you sitting down? World leaders are turning everything -- government, business, television -- over to Labrador Retrievers. Yes. The dogs. Oh my. Let's go to Melba Huntley outside the White House. Melba, are you there?
Yes, Harry. I am standing outside the side gate to the White House. The Bush family has already loaded their personal belongings in their car after a short meeting with the new First Family. During this meeting, George W. threw the ball several times for the top dogs after successfully deflecting an intense personal interest in his private regions.
From this distance, these dogs appear pleasant to look at-not flashy, but simple, cleanly cut, and handsome. The black dog is shorter, stockier. The taller yellow dog is fast moving and clearly ready to go to work. They seem earnest and intelligent. A press conference has been announced for one hour from now.
Back to you, Harry.
Why the Lab Was Selected to Lead the World
I know this is a terrific shock. However, I know that many of you have great faith in Laughing Dog. I want to say clearly, that I believe that this transition is perhaps our only hope for calming world tension. Let me share with you why the Labrador is first and foremost a great dog. Then I'll share the qualities that will allow the Lab to move much beyond the ranks of mere canine to leader of every aspect of our world.
Just recently, I completed reading book titled A Dog Year by Jon Katz when this incredible decision was announced. The author writes about his relationship with four dogs, two of whom are Labs. In the first chapter, his uses all of the following adjectives to describe his two Labrador pals:
|Loving||Knows how to relax|
This list of characteristics offers a clear rationale to explain why this breed is the most popular in the U.S., and, I suspect, not far behind in other part of the world. Dog owners recognize quality and value steadiness.
THE LABRADOR RETRIEVER - Page 2
Authors who write about Labs try to make it sound like there are some challenges with this breed. Generally one page in your average 200 page book is dedicated to issues such as digging, need for exercise, and chewing. This is not impressive. They are dogs for goodness sake. The reality is, these are very good dogs, so good that they have come to dominate the ranks of guide dogs and service dogs. They own field trials.
However, merely being a fine dog is not qualification to be president, prime minister, or CEO. The reality is that Labradors have other characteristics that make them perfect leadership material. Consider the following:
1. While the Lab is smart, he is not too smart. Extremely smart leaders make followers nervous. While it is not flattering for humans, the reality is that the rank and file seems most comfortable with a plodding but charming sort of leader. The Lab fits the bill here. His is a practical intelligence, sufficient to get every job done that is put in his path but devoid of flash and unpredictability.
2. In the same vein, the Lab communicates that he is a blue-collar kind of dog, connected to regular salt-of-the-earth folks. But he also dresses up well and moves seamlessly into a more affluent, aristocratic crowd. He will generate loyalty among all levels of society.
3. This pup is a hard worker who is pleased to do a full day's work. Citizens will know they were getting their money's worth. No afternoon video games for this dog.
4. Great leadership requires great collaboration and team building. The Lab shines in working with others, both canine and human. This is result of clear and steady communication which may sound like, "You throw it. I'll get it." Dialogue and cooperation will become the norm around the world.
5. The Lab is a direct, plain speaking dog, incapable of deception. He inspires confidence. When he looks into that camera and says, "This is the way it is," people at home will nod and agree.
Labs as leaders will take us to place we have never been before. They will transform our world. Let's see how it will work.
The New Order of Things
In this new era, every key decision will be made by a Lab. Want to raise taxes? Ask Senator Rocko, a lanky young field Lab from Rhode Island. Considering taking the company public? Check it out with Annie, a chunky yellow Lab from Minnesota. Considering selling the Miami Dolphins? Consult with Commissioner Cisco, a chocolate Lab from California.Humans will still work and have positions of responsibility, of course, but ultimately they will report to a Lab. Clearly this will require a major shift in the human mindset. But as soon as everyone sees the trade-offs in peace, cooperation, and play time, they will relax and breathe a sigh of relief.
THE LABRADOR RETRIEVER - Page 4
Labradors In Charge of Television
Television will be radically different with Labs in charge of each network. There will be four types of shows:
Animal sports such as field trials, tracking, agility, and flyball slanted to the field type Lab
News highlighting the latest Canine Good Citizen, most recent champion, or working certificate
Soaps such as "As the Kennel Turns" and "General Vet Clinic"
The food channel, KLAB, will attract the largest audiences. Labs will team with famous human chefs to whip up fine recipes for pups such as tuna brownies or a kibble soufflé.
The cooking shows will have some startling twists for human viewers. For example, one matronly Lab, teaming in the kitchen with Julia Child, might reach across the counter to sample a mouthful of uncooked rice. On another episode, the canine chef might suddenly decide to sample a whole jalapeño sitting on the counter, spit it out, and then slurp it up again. Julia, left sputtering on the side during these interludes, will recover with a nip of sherry.
Labradors will quickly take the lead as authors. Probable books from Lab authors would include:
Dogs Who Love Too Much -- A self-help book for pups in love with someone who is emotionally unavailable
People Training for Dummies -- An instruction manual for teaching humans using the powerful clicker approach
The Labrador Retriever Chronicles -- A sweeping history of the breed from early ancestors who hauled fishing nets from Canadian waters to the modern stars of government, business, and film
Authors such as Stephen King who hit it big with animal tales Cujo and Pet Cemetery will be encouraged to continue.
Labs as Educators
Labs will begin training their humans early using positive reinforcement. Choke collars would be banned, and clicker training would be encouraged. Great emphasis will be placed on socialization of young humans and impulse control.
THE LABRADOR RETRIEVER - Page 5
Labs in Medicine
Labs will make two immediate changes in the medical world. Based on recent findings, Labs would limit vaccinations on dogs to every few years. A public relations campaign borrow a phrase from Dave Barry and announce: End the fiendish plot to stick dogs with needles. Secondly, a ban will be placed on any use of the plastic collar frequently placed on dogs after an operation or surgery. Veterinarians will be required to turn in their stocks of plastic collars at a central location.
Labs as Owners of Airlines
Renaming of current airlines will mark a new era: LabsUnited and SouthwestLab. The new airlines will make a drastic change in policy to allow all dogs in the cabin. However, unpleasant people will be crated in the hold.
Labs in Interior Decorating
Labs will popularize a new style called, "Kennel Nouveau." The focus of this design is a concrete floor with a central drain to allow the house to be hosed periodically. Comfy sofas will invite dogs and humans to curl up on a winter afternoon.
Labs in Technology
Software development will focus on virtual reality duck hunting and ball playing.
Labs in the Auto Industry
Canines have never understood the naming of cars. They wonder why eagles and cougars are selected to describe models of vehicles when they are rarely seen. Upon assuming leadership, Labs will reverse this trend by naming upcoming models appropriately:
Toyota's new giant SUV will be called the Newfoundland.
BMW's zippy sports car will be labeled the Whippet.
Ford's newest truck, a towing monster, will appropriately be named the Malamute.
This describes merely the tip of the iceberg, of course. In the next few weeks, you will begin to see the transition at every level of your neighborhood, state, and country. A new Lab mayor. A new Lab editor of your hometown newspaper. The State of the Union delivered by the head Lab. The tone is quiet, friendly, and reassuring.
Stay calm. Give it a chance. In a few months, you'll rub the kids on the head and say, "I remember the old days when people felt responsible for everything. It was weird."
In writing this article, I drew from Ann Katherine Nicholas' The Book of the Labrador Retriever, Labradors for Dummies by Joel Walton and Eve Adamson, and A Dog Year by Joel Katz.
In addition, I found a great deal of useful information at www.thelabradorclub.com.
A special thanks to Monica Ausustinak who sent stories about her Lab that were incorporated into this piece.
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