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Denise Fenzi
19 Dec

The Family Ferrari

Posted by dfenzi in Most Viewed Posts, Musings

My son wants a Ferrari for Christmas and  I'm thinking about getting it for him.

I can afford it; my neighbor has a used one for sale.  Apparently it's been "too much car" for him, so it's sat in his garage.

I will definitely give my son driving lessons - I know that owning a car like that is a true responsibility.  My son hasn't learned how to drive yet, so I may have to make some modifications to the car, just in case it turns out to me be "too much car" for us as well.

Performance cars have special tires; they allow the car to corner at high speeds and provide exceptional traction.  Excellent in a racing car, but probably overkill for our family, so I will take it down to Costco for some regular Honda tires.

Performance cars also tend to be noisy - my neighbors are going to object if every morning the car roars to life.  Part of the problem is the muffler - or lack thereof, so I'll need to add a muffler.

Obviously there are liability issues with a fast and powerful car, so I'm only going to let him drive it when I'm there to supervise.  Otherwise it will stay in the garage where everyone can be safe.

Some of you may be thinking a Ferrari is overkill for a child, but my son really needs a hobby, and it does appear that there are a variety of tools and modifications that I can use to settle the car down.  A little change here and a little change there, and soon I'll have a Volkswagen interior with a Ferrari body.  The car doesn't care if we take out every ounce of it's Ferrari nature - it's just a car.

You should see what my neighbors want to buy for their family.  A working line German Shepherd.  The dog is supposed to become a hobby - the husband needs something to do when he gets home from work.

They know that a working line dog is a huge responsibility.  They guard the property and can be suspicious with people - but they've heard that the right tools can control that.  Rambunctious in the house?  That's why you should kennel a working dog.  Boredom in the kennel causes barking?  Got a special collar to stop that.  Dog's brain spins 10 times faster than the trainer's brain?  That's OK too - all sorts of special tools can slow the dog down and suppress his instincts, so the owner will have some time to think about what to do next while the dog bubbles over with frustration.

Soon, he'll be well behaved. Quiet.  No trouble at all.  And delighted with his incompetent training simply to get out of his kennel.

The potential owner of this dog has already been warned that "high drive dogs" aren't like other dogs.  They require a firm hand, lest they attempt a hostile takeover.  Cannot live in a home.  Require a  wide range of power tools, because "no one can train a dog like that" without suppression.

No one.

Lightening quick, responsive and designed for performance.  In a car, that's my worst nightmare.   In a dog, that's my dream. I wonder how the dog feels about the modifications that are designed to take out every ounce of who he is and what he's been bred to be, so that an unsophisticated trainer can handle a dog that is way outside of their skill level.

My son cannot even drive a car, so I will not buy him a Ferrari.    It takes more than desire; it takes time and dedication to develop the skills to handle power intelligently, and common sense suggests that a novice learn on something easier rather than blaming the car for its design.  You don't get a Ferrari if you haven't succeeded at freeway speeds with a Honda; stronger brakes and heavier bumpers are not the answer.

Might be something for my neighbor to think about.


47 Comments

Well said.

Posted by jendigate on January 03, 2013

[…] time crashed out on the kitchen floor of his own accord. Thank god. He is the ultimate example of Denise Fenzi’s “Ferrari” analogy. Mom means well but is out-manned in the drive and energy level departments. I don’t know […]

Posted by Travel Log, Beasts in the House | Trials of an Agility Neophyte on May 07, 2013

One of my Ferrari’s litter mates ended being put down as “unmanageable” :-(

Posted by Jenny H on December 23, 2012

My friend has got a ferrari gsd bitch. Just follow the enthusiastic barking when he’s training her. Love it.

Posted by grett on December 23, 2012

that’s why I love my King Charles Cavalier – he is a high performance cuddlier and that suits me just fine :)

Posted by Karen Mantone-Pillar on December 23, 2012

Ha! I have a 1964 VW Beetle.

Ypu know those sogns that Beetle Owners used to put on them —“My other car’s a Porsche”.

Well. I always wanted to put a Sign on mine saying “I’ve got a Veedub. I do not need another car.”

Veedub dogs should also be known as the Jeep Dog — as in “General Purpose” - gthey can be anything that teh owner wants for them ;)

Jenny - with Veedub German Shepherds and a Ferrari Working Kelpie :) A thing of beauty and a joy forever - but nort made to go slow ;)

Posted by Jenny H on December 23, 2012

I have a Ferrari. He was a product of what I assume was an accidental breeding, as he was sold at 6-7 weeks out of a box in the Costco parking lot (I received him thirdhand from the original buyer). He is of indiscriminate lineage, yet a performance dog person’s dream; a brilliant and tireless worker, and I can only hope I ever have another dog in my lifetime as amazing as he is.

But, I often have wondered, what ever happened to his littermates? Its possible he was the most souped-up of the lot, but, I doubt it. I wonder if any of them are still alive, and if they are, are they sequestered to someone’s backyard, eating their way through cinderblocks and fence posts…? Or, if they are lucky, on prong collars and prozac?

There are the Ferraris sent to the wrong homes by questionable breeders, then all the accidental ones as well. More food for thought…

Thanks for the great post Denise.

Posted by Liz on December 20, 2012

I also have one of these accidents ! A family member had her & she was a little lost puppy with a collar on . The family member was not caring for her and was man handling her which was making her push harder & more out of control . She is a great athlete & very smart . I showed her the hand signal for down at 12 weeks only twice & she got it . My story is not as simple because of some issues relating to her past but I can relate to your story . She’s a little Pit ! I took her at one year of age .

Posted by Roz Merryman on December 21, 2012

" I wonder how the dog feels about the modifications that are designed to take out every ounce of who he is and what he’s been bred to be, so that an unsophisticated trainer can handle a dog that is way outside of their skill level."

Probably like any child of above average intelligence stuck in the “leave no child behind” educational system.

Posted by Steve on December 21, 2012

I had a very bad experience with a Ferrari last Saturday. I was in a class working with my wonderful little Lotus. In our first group agility class we were off in a corner doing a focused session when a Ferrari jumped three fences on a mission to crash my Lotus. We’d been nowhere near them at any point, the only provocation was our existance. I really hope people take your words to heart. Don’t get a Ferrari unless you’re going to drive it safely and responsibly.

Posted by Kristen on December 20, 2012

Yes, me too. But I see it all the time.

Posted by Kristen Nelson on December 20, 2012

The worse part is that at least a car isn’t a living, breathing, thinking being that cares it’s being mishandled or driven recklessly.

Posted by Kim on December 20, 2012

Reblogged this on musings of a pirate and commented:
this is quietly brilliant…

Posted by Nicole on December 19, 2012

“Dog’s brain spins 10 times faster than the trainer’s brain” A perfect description of my JRT. If she had been my first dog, instead of the mild-mannered Golden I started with over thirty years ago, it would not have fared well for either of us.

People are always telling me how cute and adorable she is. I just smile and nod, because she definitely is a cutey, but always several steps ahead of me, literally and figuratively! She is easily frustrated if I haven’t planned our training sessions well enough to keep up with her. I wouldn’t have had the patience or knowledge as a novice to do this dog justice, and, sad to say, might have resorted to some of the tools you alluded to.

Just because you want and can afford a high-performance car/dog/horse doesn’t mean you should get one. Too bad the people who need to read and understand this the most won’t see it. As you said, the analogy would most likely be lost on them anyway :/

Posted by Connie Macchione on December 20, 2012

Since green people don’t know what they need & can handle , then I guess it’s up to the breeder .

Posted by Roz Merryman on December 20, 2012

OMG, i once used the same analogy with Loki! I called him a special edition corvette. It had quick response speed and you had to know how to respond to it and handle it otherwise you would surely crash it. I would not let just anyone drive my corvette. He taught me that. It breaks my heart to hear about people getting high drive GSDs or Malinois (or in some cases SIBES who need to work, because i have one of those too) and don’t do right by the breed. For the Sibe, i run her (with loki) 3x/week and long walks the other days. for my corvette (Loki), training games, no matter how bad I am at it, we do it almost daily. He will get the blues if we go more than a day without working his mind. I hate to see him blue. Like a corvette who’s not being driven and sadly won’t work anymore…

I agree with one commenter. take him to the sport field and put him a bite suit with some working line GSD’s. then see if he’ll be up for the challenge! ;) tee hee… i sure hope he comes to his senses.

Posted by wilddingo on December 19, 2012

this post got my attention so well!!!! I loved every bit, the comparison, the conclusions, every single step of the way I questioned then was quick to agree with you at the end! AMAZING post!

Posted by Nicole on December 19, 2012

Carole, I almost feel like you have been in the class I am attending. I have a pup who has some interesting drive characteristics who I am working with to focus and channel his drive with more or less success. When he goes into drive he is not terribly clear headed. When he loses it he is a beast and I have to reel him in. Some of the folks in the class must think I’m insane to have a dog like this, for me he is a real training challenge and stretching me like I haven’t been stretched for almost 20 years with a dog.

Posted by Chet Brewer on December 19, 2012

So true. And dachshunds, as well – not ALL dachshunds, but many!! On a much smaller scale than a working GSD, but most still are not just a cute lap dog.

I have a lovely Cardigan and we do agility and lots of hiking and tricks and cross-training and more…. and she still gets bored sometimes. Her sister is in a (very lovely) pet home and they describe her as a naughty bad dog! I can’t even imagine how “bad” my girl would be without all we do!!!

Posted by Courtney Keys on December 19, 2012

Sell them a WL GSD…

Posted by Linda b on December 19, 2012

Before I got my driver’s licences I swore my “First car” would be a Porsche. And indeed, I saved enough money to buy a used Porsche when I was in college. I blew up the engine before I learned how to really drive that car, but once I learned more about what the car could do and how to drive it, I had many amazing, dream like drives on winding canyon roads, flying along deserted highways in the middle of the night, adreline fueled, fabulous drives – driving just for the pleasure of being behind the wheel of an incredible machine. I loved that car, and even though it was a lot of car for a young driver I learned a tremendous amount and loved the experience. When I needed to get more practical in my life and transportation was more important than drives just for the pleasure of driving, I sold the Porsche. It wasn’t “transportation” – it was a dream on wheels. You don’t buy a Porsche (or Ferrari) just to run errands.
I made mistakes with my first dog, too. She used to be my back seat driver in the Porsche, and she was just as inappropriate for the novice dog owner that I was – as that car was for me as a novice driver. But I learned so much from her – a field-bred Irish Setter who needed a job, and compelled me to learn everything I could about training her and giving her jobs just so we could live together. She taught me a lot about dog training, and every dog since then has added to the lesson. That inappropriate first dog made me love dog training and want to be a better trainer with each dog I added to my life.
The Ferrari analogy is a great one. I have never owned another car like my Porsche, but the dogs in my life are all “Porsches”. The Porsche was never “just transportation” – and my dogs are not “just pets.” I love what I can do with my working dogs, the teamwork is its own incredible adreline fueled rush when we do something together in perfect harmony. When people tell me they want a dog like mine, I think, no, probably they don’t. The partnership they see is the result of many many hours of training and time spent learning how to make my dog be the best that he can be. There is so much to learn, and so much time spent before you can have the magic partnership that makes living with the canine equivalent of a Ferrari (or a Porsche) the dream it was meant to be.
Thanks, Denise, for an eloquent description of what it means to own that Ferrari – and choosing a dog (or car) for real life and not fantasy

Posted by Ruth Nielsen on December 19, 2012

I am so glad you posted this! The analogy is perfect and certainly personifies a number of folks I know who purchase a highly driven line puppy with the sole purpose of exerting CONTROL over them. What a train wreck this usually ends up to be——-a livid owner and a completely confused, maladjusted and sometimes hostile dog………sigh

Posted by Kathie on December 19, 2012

Know Thyself SHOULD be the first principle of choosing a dog. I was able to condense it for myself when looking for a new puppy a couple of years ago—I was thinking about switching breeds, & told a breeder that what I wanted was “a very sweet dog with a good work ethic and an off switch”. There’s a REASON I don’t have a BC, or herding dog of any breed—much as I love watching them work, all that intensity would drive me bonkers. In the end, I went with another flat-coat from a friend’s litter, carefully selected by her as “the relationship puppy”. She loves to work, & in an hour or so, when I pick up the training bag, she’ll be bouncing off the wall with delight. Right now she’s lying on a dog bed at my feet, gnawing an antler, & we’re both content. It’s all about choosing a dog for your real life, not your fantasies.

Posted by Margaret on December 19, 2012

And shame on the breeder willing to sell a WL shepherd…..

Posted by Linda b on December 19, 2012

Yet another excellent post. I really wish more people would think about their breed choice before getting a dog.

Posted by Faith on December 19, 2012

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