To do a mental  health description of your dog is actually something that is underestimated among us who are not accustomed to working breeds. It is easy to forget that a dog is a dog, regardless of breed. Sure, all items may not directly speak to the advantages of the Xolo, but to let your Xolo undergo an MH will certainly teach you something new that you did not know about your dog!
MH is not a test that says right or wrong, it's a description of the dogs behaviour in just that situation!   

Mental Health Description, an experience.

Then it was time for Zorro and me as handler to undergo MH, or mental health description.

Although I knew that the test is designed for working dog's behavior, I felt that it was something I wanted to do with my Xolo.
The Mental Health Describer expressed the matter very well;
-When the dog has passed the test,  the owner may use his own "breed key" and interpret the results through it.

It was a wonderful, perhaps a little too hot day in mid-July. We should start at 11.30 am at Backamo Camp, an old army camp a few swedish miles north of Stenungsund. I like to be well prepared so we were there in good time. The judge  felt that it was very funny that such a rare breed would make its mark on Backamo. The usual questions arose;

- Does he like the winter? - Do you use sun screen in the summer? - Can he eat with so few teeth? Well, you know the common questions!

The first group were far behind schedule, so I was told that we would start at 14.30 pm. While we waited, we ate lunch at a very dog-friendly guesthouse nearby. Zorro was impatient, he knew that something was going on, and perhaps it would  be fun!

The dog before Zorro was a typical working breed, a Groenendael. It looks a bit like a German Shepherd, and is black. I asked considerate if it was OK to walk along and observe. I had never seen a MH path, and maybe I would learn something. Shadow, who was  the dogs name, did the MH . I felt increasingly that Zorros results would not be what we hope for if he had been a working breed! The black Groenendaelen chased the "rabbit", ran up and played with the figure who was far away and growl strongly towards the ghosts.

I must say that I was a little bit nervous. It is not every day your dog is judged that way. After a short while, it was our time. Already in the hill down to the start, Zorro showed that there were more interesting things than to indulge yourself with mental health descriptions. (It smelled so wonderful almost everywhere!)

The first moment was contact and it went well. Then it was time for "play and wrestling". Zorro did not show the slightest interest in this. Nor did hunting element appeal to him. (Who wants to chase after a dull cloth?)

After these initial phases should  Zorro and I stand still for three minutes. The reason is to measure how long time it takes for the dog to "cool down". After a few meters further, we where told to look forward, where a person far away tried to capture the interest of Zorro. You could say that she failed completely in this! Now it was time for the surprise element. Suddenly a big man's overall flew up in front of us, and now  Zorro reacted. He barked, showed the overall little interest, and then he was cool again. The moment immediately after, consisted  a chain pulled in a box wich made an unpleasant sound as a result. Even here Zorrro reacted however, slightly less than before. This was obviously exciting because he rushed forward and examined both the box and chain very closely.

Now we were approaching the end of the runway, and the famous ghosts would reveal themselves. I can honestly say that if I had been a dog,  the pulse would have rushed much more than usual! They were completely white from head to toe with nasty holes for the eyes. They came from separate directions, and moved very, very slowly, one by one. Zorro threw a abstracted gaze, and then he continued in his own world around me and the ghosts. He showed no fear or aggression. I was here pleased with his behavior. At home he is "guarding", and he barks when people are approaching, and I like it that way. In another environment, however, I do not want this' guard behavior.

The last moment was "shooting". Since he didn't want to play,  it was impossible to distract him from what would happen. They shot and Zorro showed that it was not fun. He stayed still, so thats why  he got a four, with five being equal concern, fear, want to leave the premises. The Mental Health Describer  finally made a  review of what she had seen. Very psychological she began by saying how interesting it had been to see a Xolo. The disappointment that I felt at first about the result quickly turned to joy. Zorro is indeed a dog from an ancient breed, and he showed it with quite clear clarity! 
                                                                                                                                July 2006

Me, tested for Mental Health?


You can here see how a MH is performed.

Part 1


Part 2