I’ve been so busy weighing you down with heavy posts that I haven’t had time to tell you about our PALS interview last Saturday. Jelly and I underwent an initial screening to determine whether we deserved to continue on to the formal behavioural assessment.
Boy was I nervous. I haven’t undergone any type of interview, beyond a medical assessment, for a very long time. I’m an expert at providing my medical history, but that’s not what was required here. I feared I would blow it.
Despite my anxiety, I think I was alright. I believe I answered all the questions fairly, some even wisely. I was honest and forthright, I demonstrated my commitment to PALS, and promised I would do all that was asked of me to the best of my ability. Turns out often people sign up, pass the evaluation, and then lose interest. I’m not those people. I mentioned my leukemia, as I had on the application, but stressed that so long as I was well, I’d be an active, reliable volunteer. I was proud of how I handled myself.
Unfortunately, Jelly did not perform as well, despite my months of coaching. In fact, I’d give myself an A and Jelly an F. That little brat paced and whined for 20 of the 25 minutes we were there before she finally lay down with a big sigh. I was a nervous wreck, trying but failing to settle her while attempting to answer the thoughtful questions.
The two interviewers were very forgiving of Jelly’s ill behaviour. They ignored her much better than I did, called her over every so often for pets, and reassured me that, despite my humiliation, Jelly’s restlessness would not disqualify us from going forward.
One interviewer even said: “She’s just bored. She’s obviously a working dog who needs something to do.” Oh, what a lovely reframe! And how inaccurate. Have you ever met a Basset hound? Bassets are in no way related to border collies. Border collies are working dogs; Basset hounds are lazy, unless, of course, there are bunnies in the vicinity. One whiff of a bunny and a Basset moves faster than a speeding bullet, if she’s not napping.
No, Jelly’s whining and pacing indicated that she hated the lack of attention. I call it only dog syndrome. She was also probably annoyed that there was no food for her to pilfer and that there were no other dogs for her to play with. She couldn’t even off leash frenetically around the office like she does at home. Jelly was deprived of her usual ways to get in trouble, so of course she was bored.
From what I understand, Jelly will be far from bored during our behavioural assessment. This, our final hurdle, will be a series of very difficult challenges. I was relieved to learn she’d have to pass most but not all of the challenges, since she’s sure to fail the one involving treats strewn on the ground. Maybe we’ll just skip that station so as not to compound the humiliation I felt during our interview.
I know what you’re thinking. I have only myself to blame. And you’re right.