Friday, May 7, 2010

Unintended consequences

When most of us hear the words "unintended consequences", we think bad things. We remember the story of rabbits being imported to Australia as a "hunting sport" - and the unintended consequence was that the rabbits ate everything, including the fences. Miles and miles of vegetation were destroyed by the rapidly reproducing/rampaging rabbits (say that 3 times real fast!).

Or we think of the blowback effect.  The CIA covertly funds a government or sect, only to have the power that rises out of it be 'evil' back to us.

Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt wrote a best selling book on unintended consequences. Freakonomics is chapter after chapter of the 'rogue effects' of rational utility-maximization.

Unintended Consequences. There can be 'good' unintended consequences, but many pundits prefer the negative connotation. Well, I am here to bust the bubble of this negative thinking.


My good friend, Sophie, and I have been enjoying early (EARLY!) morning hikes through the Riparian Park near our house. Taking a dog hiking there (especially a breed of dog bred for birding) isn't always the fondest of idea by other riparian hikers. One look at this dog and my fellow non-dog friendly hikers immediately protest her existence. "She will charge the birds" is one complaint.

But my good friend Sophie and I hiked anyway. We took the trails around the drained ponds, trails away from the birders and 'big time' photographers. We wandered the 'back roads'.  With camera straps around my neck and Sophie safely leashed to my waist, I immediately became caught up in the hunt for migrating birds. Sophie's task was to walk with me (silently), to stop with me (silently), to be silent with me (even more than silent), to sit in the marshes with me (totally silently). I became so aware of the birds and the vegetation that I forgot Sophie was by my side. Never once did I utter a 'sit' or 'stay' to her. I assumed she knew to do it - silently.

Today I found an unintended consequence to our birding hikes. On a normal walk, she now heels like a dog that has been long in training! She (silently) has learned to read my body language and my movements. She doesn't need the verbal reminder to heel or to stop/sit. She is a dog on auto pilot.

Oh, sometimes I just love unintended consequences.

12 comments:

Remington said...

She is so special! What a great post. Thank you for starting my weekend off so nicely! Have a good one!

giantspeckledchihuahua said...

Sophie is a beautiful girl!

Barb said...

Good Dog! I think she's beautiful - there is nothing quite like a dog you can trust (and visa versa).

Whitemist said...

Funny, in our part of the woods, dogs get paid good money to chase birds and our "Jake" does that with wild abandon, to the pleasure of all those around us.

Andrea said...

She is beautiful...and I love her name! ') Fantastic post...I couldn't agree more.

BANJO52 said...

I can only repeat, I'm impressed. And nice story!

altadenahiker said...

Someone doubts that face? Tell Sophie she'd be very popular a little further west.

Elaine said...

What a lovely post! Sophie sounds like a wonderful dog and the perfect companion on your walks. I enjoyed the last two posts about Sohpie too. They brought a smile to my face.

Tracy said...

Wow! Now that is truly a best friend.

sealaura said...

thoughtful post. I am having a few setback with Norm, he has taken up barking a little more than I prefer while Newman has eased up on it and has become quite the good listener and listens to me cesar milan tst!

I hope I can retrain Norm and he can listen to my subtle lessons. we shall see!

Gus, Louie and Callie said...

That is great.. She knows exactly how to act. She herd the naughty thing that lady said about her and she had to prove her wrong...

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Leslie said...

She is such a good girl! It reminds me that dogs do not need many words or corrections to learn what we expect from them. It is all really about the intention we have. They can read our body language so well. Thanks for sharing your story.