112014_RookieLorenzo

Maxine Weber, volunteer and guest blogger, shares her thoughtful and often humorous observations from inside the WDC.

I have two sisters and although we have quite divergent opinions about almost everything, one thing we do agree on – we love to have our hair brushed. I don’t think you even have to have long hair to appreciate the sensations of hair brushing. It is soothing and tingly at the same time, a very relaxing experience. I would be hard pressed to find another G-rated activity that makes you say, “Ahhh”. And so I assumed this view point would hold true for everyone, at least for those who have hair, especially true if you have a lot of hair and quite possibly so if you have a lot of fur. But, as I learned, this is not the case.

Enter Quest. Quest is an exceptional, 11 month old German Shepherd. He is exceptional in every way… down to his fur. It’s beautiful and there is a lot of it. As it turned out, Quest, like a lot of teenaged boys, did not see the value in brushing one’s hair. Sometimes you can just tell by looking at a dog’s expression what they are thinking. And when brushing Quest, you could tell he was thinking, “Is this really necessary?”

With so much fur, regular hair brushings are inevitable. Over the summer, Quest learned to love the hair brush. First he was just treated for even looking at the brush. Then he was treated for touching the back of the brush with his nose. Next, a treat for letting the back of the brush touch his shoulder. Step by step, inch by inch, tuft by tuft. Slowly he was learning to like the brush. Over a couple of days this process was repeated until he worked up to a full brushing.

It was amazing to me to watch the trainers shape his behavior, from being tolerant and to outright enjoyment, from “Nah” to “Ahhh”.

Photo of Lorenzo Ramirez, WDCPostdoctoral Fellow, with Dargo, also learning to say “Ahhh”.