There has been a dangerous virus spreading through fly shops that can mess with the natural evolution of our shop staff or shop dogs as we refer to them. If you are aware of what to look for it's treatable. Let me help.
I have worked around a few Fly Shops, visited them in 18 states, a few in foreign countries and every single shop, big or small has one, a Shop Dog. They come in all shapes and sizes, some smart enough to sit, stay or fetch, some not. The Shop Dog is obedient, wide eyed, helpful and eager. They can be so much fun to play with! and you really don't have to pay them much when you bring them on raw like some shops love to do. They show up early and excited, ready for an incredible day on their dream job. They are into everything, happily doing the little things to please everyone and most importantly they don't make much noise. Heck in the beginning they even like the broom, the phone and putting away waders. They love everything, everybody, clients and guides alike. Like a good ol Labrador.
Somewhere along the way the little Shop Dog grows cocky and morphs into a Shop Monkey. This can happen in a week or a few years and thankfully not all dogs turn into Monkeys. This stage almost never involves a raise in pay but rather a self imposed promotion based on the fact it has become comfortable with the circus that is working in. The Shop Monkey performs cool tricks to disguise the fact it doesn't actually know anything but is hungry to be seen. The Monkey no longer wanders the shop helpfully, it just sits on the stool behind the counter trying to be funny. Shop owners and managers who know of the curse and recognize it's on set can use Monkeys for their gain. They can manipulate or convince a loyal Monkey to do just about anything, especially stupid things, for as many hours as they want. After all there are lots of Monkeys, when one breaks down there is always another one waiting and wanting to do tricks in a fly shop.
The final and often tragic stage in the Evolution of the Shop Dog is when it, he or she becomes a Shop Dick. The Shop Dick knows everything but stops doing tricks like the Monkey. The Shop Dick knows everything but stops doing the fun things it did as a Dog. It's mostly angry, tired, impatient and is the authority on everything fly fishing even though it hasn't fished in weeks (except behind the shop). The Shop Dick confidently holds court on topics it knew nothing about before it heard a guide talk about it, problem being most guides who talk to much are the young ones who dont know shit. Bold predictions and even bolder promises based on hearsay and goggle poop begin to dominate it's program, further confusing clients and guides with in ear shot. Making things up becomes the norm in an effort to build the ego thought necessary for the position when being kind, polite and humble would keep it in biscuits or bananas. The self absorbed Dick is no longer cuddly or cute but still posses the loyalty gene shop owners like, so handling things without a good shock collar should be left to the super experienced. The dick needs to dominate something during its daily grind and they often begin to bark way to much at bigger dogs, sometimes even alienating themselves from the ones that helped potty train it.
I spent sometime with Jack Dennis way back when and we had a chance to talk about this subject. He explained they hired from within when staffing the shop. It was a form of reward for putting time in with the craft. It was a way to say thank you but still know what you were getting because the guide put in a few years actually doing what he would be selling in the shop or on the phone. Plus dude had a chance to already prove he wasn't a Shop Dick long before sitting on the stool.
|Meet Zach, one of the funnest Shop Dogs ever. Never became a Shop Dick|
This does not happen to all shop people, some are great at what they do and don't let their ego complicate their day. They are humble and are a huge part of the success generated by that fly shop. Hell some of them even manage to break away and become guides and those that do understand this blog topic more than most because they had to shake off the know it all funk to survive on the water.
Don't let your dog turn into a dick.