This essay is based on actual events.
| Starting the Day with Java
Every morning I witness the same routine. The front door to the office building bursts open and a big brown flash shoots down the hall, slides across the slick lunchroom floor, and slams into the trashcan hoping it will fall. Disappointed, as the cans just rocks back-and-forth, she quickly circles the table using her super-sonic sniffer to search for a possible snatch-and-run. After striking out in the kitchen, she trolls through every office trashcan on the way back down the hall. Suddenly, she bolts through my door and rushes to greet me with good-morning kisses. Java has arrived! Java is a beautiful chocolate lab belonging to my boss, who stays in my office with me every day. As humorous and cute as this routine may sound, when Java's victims find crumbs and drool where their breakfast had been seconds earlier, it is no laughing matter. Just as annoying, is the slobbery remains of any trash-trolling finds that are now stuck to the carpet. In my opinion, Java's owners actually create her unacceptable behavior by rewarding negative behavior.
To start, Java is a smart, loving, and beautiful dog although most of the time she doesn't show her better qualities; she behaves horribly when supervised by her owners. For example, if she's not leashed when outside, she runs off and totally ignores her owners calling or trying to catch up to her. When Java finally tires out, she comes strolling leisurely into my office, and to my surprise, her owner comes in right behind her, shuts the doggie gate, and gives her a treat. I'm sure most people would agree that running away and ignoring commands are not behaviors to be rewarded.
Also, Java's excessive barking is a behavior problem that is well known around the office, as she barks when left alone in my office as a method of getting attention. Co-workers are suckered by the poor, pitiful doggie, and will hand over treats, once again rewarding her bad behavior. She's not going to stop barking when continuously rewarded for it.
Finally, the worst behavior imaginable happens while Java is vacationing with her family in California. While on the beach playing frisbee (Java's favorite past-time), Java stops abruptly, points her nose straight up into the air and begins sniffing intently; she smells food. In a flash, she takes off up the beach, with her owners desperately trying to catch up, but it's too late. Java is head first in a picnic basket devouring an innocent family's lunch, wrappers and all! Embarrassed beyond belief, Java's owners apologize to the shaken family and reimburse the cost of the lunch. Needless to say, Java is staying with me from now on during family vacations.
In closing, it takes time, patience, and consistency to build and maintain good behavior skills in your pet. Java is a good example of a great dog behaving badly, and I believe her bad habits could be corrected if she is rewarded for positive behavior and not negative behavior. Whether innocently napping under my feet, or running down the hall with a half-eaten piece of pizza flapping over her nose, I can't help but smile every time I see her. At the top of Java's list of stolen items is.........my heart.