My Dog Needs A Job
Please give my dog a job.
It was the final day of my dog’s beginner obedience class.
The training seminars, held over six Sunday afternoons at the local chain pet store, had culminated with a test. We reviewed the basic commands we’d learned together over the past month and a half—sit, stay, “leave it”, come to me, touch my hand, etc.
He’d passed, albeit barely, receiving a D+ on the pass-fail examination.
“I just wanted to make it clear,” the instructor noted as the dog gnawed happily on my arm, and I nodded in somber understanding.
“So, what comes next?”, I asked expectantly.
“Well, normally, you could progress on to the intermediate classes,” she offered warily, hoping that I didn’t take her up on it. “But really, you just need to find a way to harness his energy.”
I nodded again, stifling a yelp as he chomped on my left buttock.
“A dog like this needs a job.”
As we drove home, my barely-accredited big boy bouncing around in the back of our minivan like a cartoon kangaroo in a shipping crate, I considered the suggestion.
How do you keep a dog like this busy?
What kind of job could I give him?
I considered household chores, and did some cursory online research for potential tasks. “Have your dog fetch your slippers, or bring in the newspaper.” Now, I don’t wear slippers, nor do I have a print subscription to a newspaper, but I’d already spent hundreds of dollars on the training classes, special leash, brain-stimulating toys and grain-free dog food. What’s a little more?
I went online and subscribed to the New York Times. (I like the crossword puzzle.)
Two days later, I heard the newspaper thwap onto our driveway, and both of our ears perked up. I opened the door, and in my most steady-yet-commanding voice said, “go get the newspaper!” He sprinted out the door, tongue wagging, happy to have a job. This might work after all, I thought. Worst case scenario, he reads a few op-eds about cancel culture.
A minute or two later, he returned, happily bearing a pair of slippers.
“Wait, where did you—” I started, before noticing the broken front window on the house across the street.
I hurried him inside and closed the door. As I buried the slippers at the bottom of the kitchen trash, I made a mental note to post something on Nextdoor about having seen rowdy teens hanging around, and hoped the neighbors didn’t have a security camera.
The job hunt was not off to a great start.
Now, he’s a herding dog—at least, that’s what the rescue organization told us as they’d enthusiastically encouraged us to take him off their hands—so maybe I’d been foolish to focus on retrieval. It was going to have to be something more suited to his particular set of skills. The ideal scenario would be for him to live out on a big farm where he’d have some livestock to tend, but we live in the suburbs, and the HOA regulations specifically forbid backyard livestock.
Decoys, though. That could work.
“Why are you—”, my wife started, noticing over my shoulder as I shopped online for inflatable sheep, “You know what? I don’t actually want to know.”
“It’s for the dog,” I protested, but she’d already left the room to call a divorce lawyer.
I closed the tab. He’d already destroyed a half-dozen “heavy chewer” toys. There’s no way these bachelor-party inflatables were going to work. Perhaps he just wasn’t suited to working at home—plenty of people aren’t.
I was going to have to cast a wider net for his job hunt.
Therapy dog, I thought, watching him gnaw on a piece of firewood he’d pulled from the pile. No, probably not.
Guide dog, I considered, as he plowed head-first into the side of the house. We’ll put a pin in that one for later.
Search and rescue, I mulled, and then I remembered how many times he’d fallen for the “pretend to throw the ball” trick, and realized that traditional dog jobs just weren’t going to cut it.
Thankfully, we’re in a very tight labor market; every business imaginable is searching for workers. Perhaps my lightly-credentialed mongrel could find some work in the human world?
I’d have to make him a resume.
NAME: G. Olaf Hines
OBJECTIVE: To obtain gainful employment in the industry of work, and further my career goals of having a job with career potential.
EXPERIENCE: Shepherd, 2021-present
EDUCATION: Beginner Obedience Class, graduated 2022. Top 5 in class.
SKILLS: Enthusiastic. High-energy. Spirited. Strong drive. Tenacious. Able to work through criticism. Early riser.
INTERESTS: Avid outdoorsman. Enjoys birdwatching.
Hmmm. It’s a little thin. Maybe just a little fib here or there.
SKILLS: Enthusiastic. High-energy. Spirited. Strong drive. Tenacious. Able to work through criticism. Early riser. Proficient in Microsoft Excel.
There. (It’s just as true for him as it is for me.)
I uploaded the resume to a few job sites, and within minutes, enthusiastic messages from corporate recruiters were popping into my inbox.
Very interested in your skillset. It says you have two years as a shepherd, that’s the kind of out-of-the-box experience we’re looking for, fascinating stuff, really great. Do you also have 15 years experience leading a healthcare management practice?
I’m currently hiring for a client who’s looking for someone with project management experience to lead their research and innovation division, and it sounds like you’re the kind of motivated, self-starting candidate that would be perfect for the role. The job is with MyPillo—
Would you be willing to relocate to Flori—
I sighed. This job search was going nowhere. I looked out at the backyard, where he was stripping parts off of my grill, and considered the question. Was my big sweet rowdy boy truly unemployable?
Then, finally, it struck me.
There was one place left that someone with no other job prospects could potentially find employment. Somewhere that a lack of practical skills or organizational cooperation could be overcome through a combination of niche likability, determination, and utter obliviousness to criticism. Somewhere he could thrive.
I just hope I can withstand the competition.
—Scott Hines (@actioncookbook)