[gplus count=”true” size=”Medium” ]Over the past two weeks, I’ve been listening to a dear friend of mine tell me stories about the Cavalier King Charles cross breed puppy that she and her family recently got because “…the girls have always wanted a dog and it seemed like now they’re old enough to help out.” My friend knew starting out, that there were some things she didn’t want. She didn’t want big. She didn’t want a dog that barked incessantly. She wanted a female that would weigh less than 20 pounds when full grown.
One day she’s pretty good at going outside. The next day, she’s not because it’s pouring down rain and who in their right mind wants to pee outside in the rain anyway? “We did this all wrong,” my friend said after that first week of new dog ownership. “We should have done our research before we got her. ” Maybe. Maybe not.
As I listen and offer some suggestions, I find myself thinking back to when almost all of my conversations were about dogs. And, with one or two exceptions, these were conversations I had with other women. We were head-over-heels caught up in dog rescue, taking dogs to obedience classes, going to seminars to listen to dog experts, investigating dog camps, agility trainers, other rescue groups, figuring out the dog dynamics in our respective households, taking foster dogs off to see the vet, explaining dog behavior to potential adopters, and on and on.
For some of us, without our realizing it, our dog speak had become a 24 hour obsession. We didn’t seem to mind.
I was reinforcing what I was learning by reading a lot of books and then taking that knowledge back to my friends and to my own dogs to try out. I kept what worked and tossed what didn’t. And, somewhere along the way, I re-worked some of what I was learning around what my dogs were showing me worked for them.
Early this morning, I sent an email to my friend with a quote from A Commonsense Guide To Training and Living with Dogs, by Jon Katz. Katz is recalling some of the advice he picked up from his own reading of dog books and quotes Stanley Coren on page 51: “Never give a dog anything for free. Before we go anywhere, before they get any treat, the dogs must lie down, sit, come, or stay, an organic form of training woven into our daily walks, meals, and routines. I (Katz) see it as a toll; I charge my dogs for everything.”
I like Katz’ use of the phrase “organic form of training” because after 20 years of dog speak, this best describes how I live with my dogs. It’s the figuring out part that has always been the most rewarding.
Mia is coming to my house for 9 days while her family goes on vacation in August. I can’t wait.