As a working mom and all around citizen of the world, I often get my wires crossed. Just the other day, on a mad dash from preschool to a dog training session, I stopped by the local coffee shop. Stepping into line with the usual cast of characters, I was immediately interrupted by a friend's effusive husband who leaned over to say that he loved my latest HuffPost blog, and that it was high time I came by to work with their incorrigible Newfoundland pup.
As he expounded on their frustrations, the lady behind me shot a glance that silenced his ramblings. "Move UP," she snarled. I stepped forward obediently, as my friend reached for his cell phone to diffuse her contempt.
Then I did what comes naturally to me. I breed them. No, nothing kinky or X-rated. I simply classified them according to a dog breed that matched their behavior. My friend's husband? A cheerful companionable fellow -- a Golden Retriever type, for sure. The impatient woman? Feisty and focused -- a poorly-socialized terrier, at best. Perhaps she'd improve with a little caffeine, but in that moment, a Jack... Russell Terrier, that is.
Once I've profiled someone's breed, I have a better grasp on how to win him or her over. It's habitual and fun. By applying the same, positive dog training techniques found in my books -- encourage more than you discourage, approach the dog (or person) on his terms -- I've found great amusement in getting to know all types. Sociable breeds, for example, love direct eye contact and face-to-face conversations. Defensive personalities, however, become suspect of too much chatter, but if I relax my posture and lower my gaze they feel more comfortable and communicate openly.
Want to learn my technique? It's simple and totally addictive! The first question is, what breed are you? Take my quiz and find out.
Your doorbell rings. You...
a) Stop what you're doing, break all conversations mid-sentence, and dart to the door to see who's behind it.
b) Finish putting the dishes away, end conversations organically, then go to the door.
c) Look out the window to see whose car it is, then gauge your response by who is outside.
d) Do several completely unnecessary chores before going to the door, like stacking the dishes, watering the plants or rearranging the spice cabinet.
e) Pretend you're not home.
You just got a new iPad, so you...
a) Show and share with everyone -- from friends to curious strangers at the coffee shop. Everybody love a new toy!
b) Watch others indiscreetly and study the manual until you've mastered it.
c) Take up residence at the nearest Genius Bar until you learn exactly how to use each function. "Oh so that's how you sync your email!"
d) Attack it freestyle.
e) Hide it where no one can find it.
You're watching your kid -- or a friend's child -- and he/she wants to play a make-believe game with farm animals. You...
a) Go along with it, inventing clever voices and names (Sir Oinks A Lot and Moosy McGoo).
b) Engage momentarily, then stop to clean your ears or trim your toenails -- anything to get out of it.
c) Take charge to a level that the child stops playing, but you continue.
d) Create your own story line involving competition, combat, and challenge.
e) Say no.
A friend invites you to a party. You...
a) Socialize with everyone and enjoy meeting new friends.
b) Stick with your friend and wait for proper introductions.
c) Start a conversation that attracts other enthusiasts (Grey's Anatomy, anyone?).
d) Talk politics and religion, always taking the opposite opinion just for the fun of it. You like a good argument.
e) Take a nap on the couch.
You've gotten into an argument with a friend. You...
a) Text, call, email, apologizing profusely whether or not it's your fault.
b) Keep trying different approaches until you come to an agreement.
c) Beat the argument to death, then, suddenly, move on.
d) Wait for an apology.
e) You're indifferent.
You're in town and want a cup of coffee. You prefer to...
a) Go the nearest coffee shop, look around, and strike up a conversation with the person nearest you.
b) Go to the coffee shop, keeping your gaze in check, then sit down with your coffee and paper and pray you don't see anyone you know.
c) Get your coffee and leave.
d) Go to the McDonald's drive through so you can avoid any potential for small talk or conversation.
e) Go home and make your own coffee -- $3.50 for a latte?
You're approached by a stranger's child. You...
a) Drop what you're doing, lower your eyes, and talk reassuringly. Poor kid!
b) Grab the kid and look for the parent.
c) Admonish the stranger for letting his or her child wander.
d) Ignore the kid altogether.
e) Scare the kid to teach him and the parent a lesson about "stranger danger."
You're riding on a subway during rush hour. The only seat open has limited space and is crowded on either side. You...
a) Squish between the two people and start a conversation.
b) Sit down and pull out your iPad.
c) Move into the next car to see if you can find a space.
d) Remain standing, get out ASAP and walk the rest of the way.
e) Sneeze really loudly, without covering your mouth, so people move.
You're in the grocery store, and you see a stranger drop a carton of blueberries. You...
a) Stop to help them and strike up a conversation.
b) Call for a sales clerk.
c) Roll the berries into a pile and move on.
d) Walk away quickly.
e) Stare at the person and quietly judge them.
You've decorated a cake for your friend's birthday party. You...
a) Lick the icing off the knife and sample the different toppings (strawberry flowers!).
b) Put it in the fridge. It's for the party!
c) Leave it out and welcome the compliments. After all, you spent three hours on the three layers!
d) Reprimand anyone who so much as looks at the cake.
e) Why would you waste your time decorating a cake?
A) A retrieving, companionable breed
B) A steady working breed
C) A focused herding breed
D) A tenacious terrier
E) Sorry, you're a cat
A: These breeds are straightforward, full of humor, and fun lovin'. They include retrievers, spaniels and pointers, as well as the smaller companion breeds such as the Pug, the Maltese and the Shih Tzu.
B: Working-hound dogs are rule followers. Steady on a task, they can work alone or in groups and have a long attention span. These breeds include Bernese Mountain Dogs, Doberman Pinchers, Mastiffs and Siberian Huskies.
C: Herding breeds have a strong, intelligent mindset. They choose one chore in life and are focused and repetitive. Border Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs and Australian Shepherds are herding breeds.
D: The tenacious terrier is a spirited, determined, feisty breed. Independent and alert, they often ignore discomfort when set to a task. Airedale, West Highland White and the Scottish Terrier fall in this category.
So how do you measure? Were your results consistent, or did you get a varied review? Don't worry if you did -- most people are mutts. That's known as hybrid vigor in dog circles. It's a good thing.
I'm a mixed breed myself -- proud to be a herding-sporting cross. A self-proclaimed Border Collie-Golden Retriever mix. At times, my eagerness overwhelms people, and then suddenly, I can set to a task with an unshakable focus. My husband, on the other hand, would swear I have some terrier in my bloodlines, especially when I'm over-tired.
Stay tuned for more in my blog on breed profiling for people. You'll learn how to identify your family members, neighbors, and friends by breed, while using my positive training techniques to improve your relationships on the job, in your home, and on the playground. So get to your local coffee shop and start breeding! Breed profiling that is. Have fun!