Galen loves daycare. In fact, most mornings she stalks Kevin as he dresses, hoping he’ll take her there on his way to work. She doesn’t always get her wish. Good daycare – for dogs, as for children – isn’t cheap.
But this morning, Galen was in luck.
Kevin called me after dropping her off. “Let me tell you about our diva dog,” he said.
Apparently, Jen, who works the early shift, greeted Galen with, “Good morning, Miss Galen.” To Kevin, she said, “[Galen] will be getting her nails done at 2.”
“This is why I work and have nothing to show for it,” Kevin quipped.
(Disclaimer: Galen gets her nails clipped at daycare; she does not get manicures.)
Kevin and I decided long ago that Galen is a diva. She’s been known to take bones out of the mouths of Bear and Kuma, her canine cousins. Or show no interest in a toy until Loki, my mother’s dog, picks it up. She can also be downright discourteous. Galen will turn her head away from Loki when he lies down beside her or give him the cold shoulder when he tries to play with her – unless, of course, she’s in a playful mood.
Even with us, Galen can be a tad tempermental. One night she sleeps in bed with us, the next she chooses her crate over our company. Some evenings she wants to play fetch, some evenings she prefers a walk through the neighborhood. She enjoys chewing bones and bully sticks, but only in the backyard. She refuses bones offered to her in the house.
Did Galen come by her diva-ness naturally, or is this something we nurtured?
The debate whether nature or nurture – our genes or our environment – shape our personalities goes all the way back to Plato, who favored nature. Centuries later, John Locke argued individuals are born with a tabula rasa or clean slate and thus, are shaped by their experiences, nurture. Today, most people agree both nature and nurture shape us into who we are.
Researchers are now examining canine personality. And it’s no surprise, perhaps, that their findings reflect a mingling of nature and nurture here, too. In The Genius of Dogs, evolutionary anthropologist Brian Hare writes, “How we nurture a dog affects how they behave, but so does their nature.” In some breeds, their nature can be genetically traced back to their ancestors, the wolf.
In the end, I suppose it doesn’t matter whether Galen was born a diva or whether we coaxed the diva out of her. She is one, and we allow her to be.
We’ll have to be a bit more heavy-handed when it comes to how we raise our daughters.