Take the Beast's recent herding evaluation as a perfect example. We spent one hour testing his ability to herd sheep, made no firm decisions as to when or how often we will come back for lessons, and I've already gone out and ordered the following book: Herding Dogs: Progressive Training. A full-on manual on how to teach dogs to herd. For people whose livelihoods depend on raising livestock.
In other words, not really necessary for the weekend herder/handler combo that is me and the Beast.
The book came in the mail yesterday, and I started flipping through the very intimidating 7-page table of contents to see if I could just find a chapter on "City girls who get the idea in their heads that their dog could be a casual herder". I didn't find that chapter, but I did land upon the following excerpt entitled "Loyalty". I can take no credit for this excerpt. In fact the author is quoted as 'unknown'. But I found it to be a touching description of our beloved pets (minus the slave reference, perhaps). I thought others might too. Enjoy!
God summoned a beast from the fields and He said, "Behold people created in my image. Therefore, adore them. You shall protect them in the wilderness, shepherd their flocks, watch over their children, accompany them wherever they may go - even into civilization. You shall be a companion, an ally, a slave.
"To do these things," God said, "I endow you with instincts uncommon to other beasts: faithfulness, devotion and understanding surpassing that of people. Lest it impair your courage you shall never foresee your death. Lest it impair your loyalty, you shall be blind to the faults of people. Lest it impair your understanding, you are denied the power of words. Let no fault of language cleave an accord beyond that of people with any other beast - or even people with other people. Speak to your people only with your mind and through your honest eyes.
"Walk by their sides; sleep in their doorways; forage for them; ward off their enemies; carry their burdens; share their afflictions; love them and comfort them. And it return for this, people will fulfill your needs and wants - which shall be only food, shelter and affection.
"So be silent, and be a friend to people. Guide them along the way to this land that I have promised them. This shall be your destiny and your immortality." So spoke the Lord.
And the dog heard and was content.
- excerpt from Vergil Holland's Herding Dogs