Differences--Nature vs Nurture?

Bailey's here for the night. As I was driving to pick her up from the parking lot I was meeting my mom in today (like that doesn't sound sketchy) I started thinking about the fact that sometimes it's hard to imagine she and Buzz are the same breed. They look different, they interact with dogs differently, but most interesting to me is the fact that they interact with people in vastly different ways.

I've often said I'd love a stable Bailey. I've also often said I'd love a Buzz with a tail and without allergies. Truth be told, I covet a stable Bailey more. She's just a very different dog, in a very good way. She's going to guarantee a good laugh and make me feel like an awesome trainer every time I work with her.

As I tried to put a single word on what makes her so different from Buzz I thought about how she related to other dogs I've experienced. And I can't find one.

She has always enjoyed interactions with humans almost more than anything in the world. She naturally checks in on people when out and about. It's not something I had to teach, she just did it.

She inherently enjoys playing with people, and playing physical games with people. Sure, I've been too "rough" in play occasionally that'll put her off but she's always come back for more. She will initiate play with me and she'll solicit attention with the desire to DO something, not just be pet.

And I wonder if it comes down to nature, nurture, or both. Bailey was born and raised in the living room of her breeder's home. She was exposed to multiple people throughout the 8 weeks she lived with her breeder. Since the day I got her, she's been one of those "shadow without being in the way" dogs. She always wants to engage with the people in her life, indoors, outdoors, in a new environment... it's really who she is.

In contrast, Buzz was born in an outside kennel and lived with his parents/siblings for the first almost 9 weeks of his life. There's just not a whole lot of interaction he could have gotten, had his breeders made a point of getting out to interact with the puppies even daily. I didn't realize how much of an issue his indifference to people would be. It was honestly a huge struggle to learn how to work with him, to make him care about ANY resource that I could control. In the end we were able to compete in a variety of sports successfully but only because there was the promise of food at the end of each and every run. Something I had to work insanely hard to teach him. I had to micromanage every training session so that he was never given the opportunity to disengage and leave. Buzz got the worst of both situations. He wasn't exposed to humans enough to learn that they can be a valuable resource, and I didn't know enough when I got him to help "fix" that at 9 weeks old.

After being out with Bailey tonight, I realized just how much I crave what she is, in a stable package, in my next dog. I want a dog that inherently cares about people, a dog that enjoys playing games with people, (and a dog that was born enjoying retrieving... Buzz has a solid retrieve, for food).

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