The people who surrendered Oliver to the humane society a year ago called him Scarecrow because they claimed he was afraid of everything.
He was 3 1/2 months old and in his third home, after the people who were supposed to buy him failed to pick him up from his breeder. The breeder gave him to a friend, whose resident dog didn’t like him, so he was passed on to a relative. That person also declined to keep him and contacted Colonial Capital Humane Society to find him a home.
Which turned out to be with us.
There are a couple of things wrong with calling him Scarecrow, the first being it was derogatory, implying it was his fault he was frightened.
Second, scarecrows aren’t afraid of things; they scare things away.
Let me tell you, after the first fifteen minutes trembling on our kitchen floor the evening we brought him home, Oliver hasn’t been afraid of a single thing for one second.
Mozzie, our golden, is the timid one, like the Cowardly Lion. That, along with his perpetual puppy energy, was why we wanted him to have a canine companion, so Oliver joined us when Mozzie was six months old.
Is that scary plastic bag gone?
Not only was the Scarecrow not the ‘fraidy-cat in The Wizard of Oz, he turned out to be the brains of the bunch, and that’s how it’s been with Oliver. He is a standard poodle, which rank second only to border collies on the breed intelligence charts, and one step above golden retrievers.
Seriously, with both a poodle and a golden, I’m outmatched in the intelligence department. If they ever decide to stage a coup, I’m in deep trouble.
Meet your future Canine Overlords
Goldens are brilliant and can cheerfully learn to do anything you care to teach them. So can poodles, but they’re going to think it over for a while first, deciding if they agree with your strategy and technique, before complying. And if they’ve devised a better way, be prepared, because that’s what they’ll do.
When you talk to a golden, you can see the bright spark of understanding in their eyes, along with plenty of joyful adoration. When you talk to a standard poodle, you see that understanding and intelligence, but you can also see intense concentration, as he analyzes your words, inflection, body language, and intention. Poodles are always watching and evaluating, weighing and measuring, processing everything they see.
Poodles are always watching.
One thing I can tell you with absolute certainty–Oliver isn’t afraid of a single thing.
And he’s with us now, so he’ll never have to be.