I'm going to go listen to Sue Sternberg speak this weekend at the Oakville and District Humane Society and I'm paying $100 to do it (well, it does include breakfast and lunch). Some might consider this a privilege. Others might think this is akin to aiding the enemy. She's a controversial figure in the dog rescue community mostly because of the temperament testing methods she's created and popularized to determine if a dog is fit for adoption. At best it's saved a lot of people from getting bit; at worst, it's sentenced a lot of distraught dogs to death.
From what I understand, her test goes something like this:
A dog is given a bowl of food and allowed to eat it. The tester takes a rubber hand, the Assess-a-Hand, and sticks it into the bowl of dog food, at first just moving the food around inside the bowl but then actually pulling or pushing the bowl of food away from the dog. If the dog reacts negatively, say by snarling or biting the hand, then it's deemed unadoptable (and probably euthanized).
I have to admit, I fell for it at first. As a matter of fact, I thought it was such a great test that I started using it in my personal life. After all, I figured that since people are more evolved and civilized than dogs, if a dog must pass the test in order to be considered well tempered, a person should be required to pass it with flying colours. I had great success using it to determine whether or not a date was suitable long term relationship material.
Waiter: Here is your salmon, Sir, and here is your bouillabaisse, Madame.
Me: Thanks, looks great.
Marriage Prospect #47: Mmm, that smells divine.
Me: Isn't this a great place? I just love it here. Food's great. Atmosphere's great.
MP#47: You've been here before?
Me: Oh, yeah. They know me here. I know them. You know how it is. You find a place you like and you just don't want to leave. It's commitment, you know what I mean?
MP#47: Most men I know are afraid of commitment.
Me: Not me. My middle name's commitment.
MP#47: Oh really?
Me: Yes, I'm all about commitment. You know, meeting the right person, moving in, settling down, having kids. Yeah, all that stuff. The sooner the better.
MP#47: (getting nervous though I'm not sure why) Heh, heh, well I generally like to take things slow. I guess I've just had too many bad experiences in the past with, you know, weirdos.
Me: Oh yes, weirdos. All over the place. You don't have to tell me about weirdos. Everyone I know is a weirdo, ha, ha.
MP#47: Everyone you know is a weirdo?
Me: What? Oh did I say that? I meant, everyone I know is not a weirdo. Everyone I know is very, uh, not ... weird ... oh ...
MP#47: Well, that's good to ... Hey what are you doing?
Me: What? I'm not doing anything.
MP#47: You're sticking a rubber hand in my soup.
Me: Oh, ho, ho, that, that's nothing just ignore it.
MP#47: (raising her voice) How am I supposed to ignore it? It's a rubber hand in my soup.
Me: No, really, it's nothing. It's not doing anything. It's just in your soup, pushing the shrimp and scallops around a bit that's all. Look ... (I stir her soup a bit with the rubber hand).
MP#47: (Yelling, how embarrassing for her)What the fu ...
Me: Come on, chill, it's just a rubber hand. I mean wait 'til you see what comes next.
Me: Yeah, check this out.
I take both my hands and put them into her soup and gather some of the seafood and squish it all up a bit and then I splash some of the soup onto the table and then I pull the dish towards me.
Me: I know I'm supposed to stick with the rubber hand for safety reasons but you don't look that dangerous so I hope you don't mind me improvising.
MP#47: You ... you ... you're nuts. You're a creep job. You're completely insane.
Me: (I yell to her as she leaves) Oh no, I think we both know who failed the temperament test here, lady.
Waiter comes by and starts to clear the table.
Waiter: I assume we're done here.
Me: Oh yeah, totally. Thank God I wasn't ensnared into a relationship with that wack job piece of work. Did you see how she reacted to that rubber hand. Wow. Talk about unstable.
Waiter: Of course, Sir.
But what do I really think about all this? I'm reserving judgment until I hear what Sue Sternberg actually has to say for herself.