Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Holly4   The crowning-achievement of my time in the dog-training field came when I realized that “training” and “educating” were two very different things.  It wasn’t a realization that came in a thunderclap, but more like a slow, radiant, sunrise.  There was no individual human mentor that revealed this truth, but rather, it was a sleek, black, German Shepherd that finally got thru my fog of confusion.  That confusion was, simply, a complete misunderstanding of the difference between Training a dog, and Educating a dog.

  Trained dogs are a dime a dozen.  The right book, a couple of sessions or seminars with the trainer of your choice, a little bit of self-confident bluster, a big ol’ bag of treat morsels, and a method of discipline, and you can produce a “trained” dog.

On the other hand, producing an Educated requires a keen intelligence on the humans part, imagination, a gentle approach both physically and mentally, a calm spirit, a lack of egotism, and the ability to understand what your dog is telling you.  Those things are far more elusive to us, and no where near as fast.  Educating is far more dependant on the humans ability to recognize the emotional and mental make up of the dog.  Today, most “trainers” rely on the physical aspects, as prescribed by various “methods” of training.  If the dog obeys, and carries itself in a flattering manner, they are happy with their work.  The work grows from the negative assumption that the dog is an inferior species, lacking in cognizant intelligence and forethought.  Some methods even rely on the assumption that dogs are dumb creatures of instinct, and base behavior.  They are “just animals”, to be dominated by their human overlords.

For millennia untold, the dogs that humans have employed have been treated thusly, and are products of this mind-set.  More contemporary “science based” methods, have been touted as the ultimate understanding of how dogs think, and behave.  Most of this thinking is intended to make the practitioner look intelligent, educated, and clearly superior to the dog, and fellow non-practicing fellows.  Both mind-sets are belittling to a creature of sentience, spirit, and emotion.  Science has become religion to many modern humans, and the dog-training industry has more than it’s share of those who bow down at every behavioral study that an uninvolved Phd can muster into a published paper.  If Training a dog is our only goal, then we are missing something sublime and noteworthy.  Better behaved and happier dogs, allowed to answer to their own sentience.

Those seeking to Educate their dogs, and the paying customers dog, are doing just the polar opposite.  They focus on the emotional and mental aspects of building a relationship with each dog.  The physical will generally follow the emotional quite nicely with the right approach, and the dog doesn’t have to worry about catch-words like “conflict”, “drive”, or “operant conditioning”.  The dog is treated as a fellow intelligent being with the potential to be capable of any number of behaviors, or “jobs” if you will, quite successfully.  Helping a dog to use his intelligence, his ability to think and solve problems, only enhances what instinct and experience provide him.  Such mental health also has the added advantage of improving the physical appearance of the dog, and his behavior in social experiences with strange people, and strange dogs.

Educating a dog involves a long and sometimes tedious period of observation, experimentation, and response.  Why does the dog respond in such a way to this, or that?  What natural response is the most likely under this particular set of variables?  What factor could change that response in an instant?  How does my presence influence what the dog is doing?  In essence, It’s All About The Dog.

We must always regard that the dog at our feet is a feeling, intelligent, and capable living soul.  He is more than capable of two way communication with his companion human, giving and taking liberally.  Teaching and Learning.  It’s up to humans to sharpen our perception of how dogs learn, work, and live.  Science can’t answer that call anymore than it can teach us to fall in or out of love with someone.  Militant training methods completely ignore the perception of a dog as a thinking being.  We must combine these things for true success.

Dogs are imprisoned by this lack of understanding on our part.  Inside them, are all of the wonderful qualities that we admire, honesty, integrity, cooperation, friendship, teamwork, and unselfish love.  They are curious, humorous, adventurous, and willing.  They want nothing more than to be treated well, and fairly.  They want us to be a part of their lives, and they, ours.  This might very well be difficult for the conventionally-minded to accept, let alone put into practice.  Opinion is widespread and virulent today, and simplicity is often scoffed at by the high-minded.  The belief that we, Man and dog, are “intended” for each other by an intelligent Creator, will produce guffaws from the intellectual purveyors of evolutionary development.  But we are much more than fellow animals on this Earth.  Understanding and utilizing that fact will enable all of us to understand that we can work together with our dogs to benefit both species.

I am not questioning or belittling any method of dog-training,  unless it is actually brutal or painful to the dog..  Most modern methods have success stories to tell.  As combative as they can be, I find most dog people to be engaging, intelligent, and great company.  The numerous seminars available today, most always produce good learning experiences and new friends.  Still, however, the constant battles between the different “quadrants” of training (pun intended) have all proven to fall short in the relationships that improve our dogs lives.  All of us “know”, or at least claim to know our methods well.  But is that enough?  Are we ignoring the dog at our side as a lesser being, lacking in emotion, intelligence, and thought?  That’s a tragedy, and we, and our dogs, are better off with a new way of thinking.

 

 

benefits-of-dog-massagedog%20massage         I’m not your “new-agey, touchy-feely, transcendant being”, kind of guy. I like beer, beef jerky, and hunting. I’m happiest in wild places miles from Cable TV, Cell-phone coverage, World News anything, and batteries. I like eating broiled meat off the tip of my belt knife (which I may have scratched my back with only moments ago), and drinking coffee from a pot that has egg shells in it, over an open fire. I love eating bacon from a cast iron skillet that also has trout merrily frying away in it. I like chain saws, and double-bitted axes, and campfires that overlook blue water in deep, boreal forests.
With that manly and testosterone injected disclosure, I approach the subject at hand with an enthusiasm that shocks even me. I have seen the benefits, the connections and the results of massage for my dogs.
Your dog works hard, plays hard, and spends his days burning calories and fulfilling his need for activity. Whether he is practicing agility, schutzhund, trieball, catching bad-guys, playing fetch, or shredding your $2000.00 leather sofa, he gets tired and in need of relaxation. It’s also a great bonding between you and your dog. That’s right, this is not about getting a massage for your dog, but about giving your dog a massage yourself, strengthening the bond between you.
The Internet has a great variety of sites dedicated to Massage Therapy for Dogs. As per usual, some of them are just crazy. Place hot rocks on a dog’s body? Yeah that’ll be real successful. Not that this treatment doesn’t feel great to a human. Dogs just don’t sit still for such goings-on lightly. One other site asks you to help your dog “meditate”. Riiiggghhhhttt. The deepest thought on most dogs mind is, “Hey. I pooped in the middle of the yard. Where’s my food?”
But, in the middle of all the chaff, are a couple of wheat stalks. These are the benefits that I’ve gathered regarding Canine Massage:
Dog massage therapy promotes and improves the physical and mental health of our canine partners. This non-invasive technique of hands-on deep tissue massage can enhance the health and performance of our four-legged friends by:
• relieving tension
• relaxing muscle spasms
• lengthening connective tissue
• improving muscle tone
• improving circulation
• increasing flexibility
• accelerating recovery time of strenuous activity and even injuries.
I have taken much information from experts in the fields of chiropractic, deep tissue massage, and physical therapist. There are those that specialize in equine, feline, and canine therapies. They treat this as a physical treatment for pain, strength building, health, and welfare of the animal. It’s a Doctors practice, not a voodoo hut, or pixie-dust dispensary.
Each of my dogs react differently to massage treatments. My 8-year-old working GSD Hans, becomes a big lump of soft-serve German Shepherd, and often ends up asleep before we finish. On the other hand, it seems to energize our female GSD. We have learned that doing massage before practice or competition, fires her up!
My technique follows no specific rules from the professionals. I just observe what the dog enjoys, and they gladly communicate too me what they enjoy. I have however, made canine anatomy an area of intense study. The muscles, nerves, and bone structure of the dog is important to understand, as attempting to extrapolate knowledge about human own anatomy on to the dog is impossible. In other words, what feels good to you, might not be so good to your dog. My advice is to find a good book on Anatomy, and give it more than a cursory read. Here is one of the good examples that are not crazy expensive, or crazy in approach.
“Dog Anatomy Coloring book” – Robert Kainer
“Canine Massage- Complete Referencebook”
A brief description of how I massage my dogs will be a starting point for you. I highly recommend that you do some research for yourself, and your dog.
First, I make sure that I am calm. This also guides the dog to be in a calm state of mind. I will sit in a straight-backed chair and put the dog in a Sit, facing me. I first begin by gently stroking the dogs snout in small, circular motions with fingers only, above the upper tooth line, externally. Take your time, and work this all the way to the top of his head until you feel a “crest” on the cranium, up the center of the skull. At this point, begin to widen the circles outward, until you are behind the dogs ears. Then, move forward on the skull, following the contour of the ear bases, and then down the jaw line. Work this area, and don’t forget to rub gently around the eye-socket. Facial massage feels good too many dogs, as long as it is slow and gentle. Use this time to lift the jowls of the dog to inspect his teeth as well. While I recommend that you brush your dogs teeth daily, don’t interrupt his massage.
Now begin working backwards towards the dogs upper neck. Work your way in circular motions to the top line just behind the cranium. Work your way down the neck to the upper shoulder. Then begin working your way forward lower on the sides of the dog’s neck to the chest area. By the time I reach this stage, my dogs are trying to lie down. If so, allow the dog to do so. If not, work the dog’s neck and jaw line a bit more, in a firm but very gentle manner. Depending on his level of relaxation, it may seem that your dog wants to collapse. Success!
Now that your furry friend is lying down, either side is acceptable, give the dog long strokes down the dogs side, in the mid-line. Go slowly. The idea is to straighten out the dog’s body and put the muscles in a relaxed position, as well as the skeletal frame. Give this time to happen, say 5 minutes of gentle stroking. Then begin working forward to the dogs front chest region. It’s okay to give the dog a fingertip scratch in this area, because they are unable to reach the area, and it feels wonderful to the dog. Don’t dig in, but do scratch the area for 1 or 2 minutes. Too much time spent here might cause the dog to attempt rising, so if he begins moving, move to the next area.
I now begin moving down the dogs leg structure, starting at the scapula. Small circular motions. Then I will grasp the leg in both hands and begin massaging downward towards the joint. As I reach the joint, I will watch closely as the dog will react to any pain he may feel in the joint. Remember: This is about communicating with the dog. If you detect any pain in the joint, stop immediately. Concentrate on holding the joint between your hands, providing warmth. In older dogs, this is common. Please consult your Veterinarian for chronic joint pain, or that which may come from an injury.
Now we reach my dogs favorite part: His foot rub. Before massaging, I will gently inspect the toes, webs, and pads for anything stuck there, or small lacerations or blisters. Remove anything stuck to the toenails, and watch for what can be considered “nail snags”. I massage the feet with “Tuff-Foot” if the pads appear sensitive, or one of several other creams that treat the pad and keep them supple.
I concentrate on rubbing each toe-pad softly, and then move to the webbing between the toes, taking my time. This usually has my “Hans” stretched out on the floor and doing his best cat impersonation. If he was properly equipped, he’d PURR.
After a few moments of focusing on his feet and ankles, I’ll roll the dog onto his back and give him a brief belly scritching as a break. This puts him into a position where it’s possible to inspect his underside for bug bites, lumps, lacerations, or anything out of the ordinary. It’s very important to look and feel for these sorts of things for the sake of your dogs health. Be observant, and thorough.
I finish the treatment by rubbing down the sides of the dogs spine. Flat handed, circular motions from shoulder to base of the tail, finally checking the hips and knees of his hind quarters. By this time, the dog is usually quite relaxed. It takes less than 15 minutes to carry out this massage, and I have found that it provides a bond with the dog. It also aids your Veterinarian when he or she has to examine your dog, as the dog is accustomed to physical touch, and not fearful.
Before I wrap up this chapter, I want it to be clear that the subject here is specifically about a “relaxing massage”. Before competition, or practice, I do a more aggressive warm up massage, designed to get the blood flowing. That is another subject outside this particular book.
For now, try developing a program of massage with your dog. Do a little homework about where all the parts are, and get started. You will find that this contact will deepen the relationship you have with your dog. Start with whatever the dog will allow you to do. Try focusing on one region at a time, perhaps the head and neck, or the feet and ankles, whatever seems to please the dog most.
Enjoy the time together, speak calmly, and feed your dog calm soothing energy. Try it, and see the benefits for both of you.

Dogs Weep Not…

Posted: February 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

Dogs are the happiest souls on Gods’ shiny blue Earth. They live their all-to-short lives, trying to be positive, happy, and eager to please. Even to those who may not appreciate it. I am determined to never be unappreciative towards my dogs, whatever the situation. I will always strive to understand what my dog is trying to say to me, and return his positive thoughts in kind. Don’t we owe them that kindness?
Learning to communicate with our dogs in their unique language has many important uses beyond simple training. And I believe this communication will prove to be more important in the fullness of time, and the inevitability of life.
This occurred to me during a conversation with a close friend. My friend is a dog-lover, an artist, and an empathetic soul. Her Chocolate Labrador had eclipsed his 15th year of a very happy life, and sadly, the years were showing their inevitable effects. She is faced with that decision we will all eventually confront. This very sensitive lady was looking for something that would make an end-of-life decision less traumatic. For her.
This is not to criticize her. In the end, these decisions affect us emotionally as humans more than they do our dogs. We tend to keep them by our side as long as we can bear the pain in their eyes. And that is another reason that we need to learn to communicate, thru our bond, with our dogs. After all, they will make such a decision for themselves, and we should listen to them. I’m not implying that dogs understand the concept of death. Nor do they believe in some canine concept of an afterlife. Dogs do not practice religion, or possess spirituality. They do, however, bring praise to their Creator. What our dogs do understand is how it feels to be happy, comfortable, loved, and secure. They also know when these qualities are missing.
Your dog has communicated to you throughout its life, that it enjoyed a rousing game of fetch, that it was comforted by your presence, anguished at your separation, distressed by that man in the white lab coat poking him with a needle. Your dog also managed to communicate to you that his tummy was upset, he enjoyed the table scraps you surreptitiously slipped him, he reveled at the belly rubs you gave him. At some point, your dog communicated affection for you, by laying his head on you, secure in the knowledge that you would scratch him. Hopefully, the point that you and your dog have always communicated, is made clear. This connection will not fade at the end. It will, finally, find itself at an all-time deepness.
At the foundation of the Communicative Approach is understanding the language of your dog. I can think of no more profound event than life’s end, for our dogs to speak to us. While none of us look forward to this eventuality, it will happen. Dogs pass away from us. If we listen to our own thoughts, we are apt to prolong the process to sooth our own needs and fear of loss. But your dog has a very different viewpoint.
As a dog, his understanding of death is non-existent. He thinks not of an afterlife, nor does he wonder what lies beyond. He does understand Right Now. He may not be able to see clearly, he may not be able to walk more than a few steps, or pain may be filling his thoughts. He may feel gnawing hunger, because eating is not possible. All of these things are revealed in your dogs eyes, which still long for you to throw his ball.
Throw his ball? you say? Yes indeed. Even in their lowest state, what your dog remembers are the good, pleasurable moments you and he shared together. Ball games, running thru the forest putting his nose into any interesting nook that he came upon. Swimming in the lake, jumping off a dock, chasing the other dogs in silly games of rough- and -tumble tag. The dog remembers belly-rubs on your bed, the bully sticks that he devoured with gusto. Your dog remembers the joy he felt when you returned home to him from a work-day. The eyes of your dog are truly “windows into his soul”. Our four-legged friends have the very non-human ability to see and remember the very best of a life lived in earnest. Humans tend to jump from one misery to another. We remember in landmarks of pain, sorrow and anguish, with interspersed moments of joy. Perhaps that is a failing of too much thought. Too much focus on the negative aspects of life. It’s all too human, and canines are not possessed of such burdens.
Beyond getting too wordy or philosophical, this is how I will deal with the end of life decisions for my friend. When his eyes no longer show the desire to run, play, and enjoy living, I will allow his last thoughts to be of those things he loved best, rather than the pain of want. I will sit beside him, and remember with him. I will do this before the pain becomes unbearable for him. I will make our final moments together peaceful, without stress. He will know only that at this moment we are together, and will always be. His eyes will speak to me of autumn days in the forest, chasing his favorite toy into the rolling whitecaps in summer, training together for our work, and the joy of finding the lost. I will do my best to see that these final moments take place at home, and not in the sterile environment of a veterinary office. I will not tell him that he is leaving me. Nor will I beg him to stay. As always, I will allow him the dignity of his life, the joy of his spirit, and the beauty of his soul. When his eyes tell me, “It’s time to go”, he will not see me cry. Our time together will be happy and joyful until the sand slips thru the hourglass of his life.
Only then will I give way to sorrow, and I shall do so only in seclusion. And though it may sound so, I am not planning for my dogs death. That will take care of itself as it has for time immemorial. We will live my dog’s life in joy and celebration of each day. When my friend tells me, “It’s time for me to go…” we will part ways as we came together, with a smile and a deeply felt, “Good Boy!”

Recently, it has been my unfortunate opportunity to see a series of photo’s of a magnificent German Shepherd that has been decimated of it’s luxurious coat after being treated for a series of symptoms:  Allergies, Inflammation, and digestive problems of some sort.  Stop…One moment of digression before I proceed.

I am NOT a Veterinarian.  I have never claimed to be one.  But I AM well-read, well-educated in Research of a wide variety of disciplines, and an enthusiastic student of the world around me.  What I am about to write about should not be viewed as a veterinary opinion, nor am I diagnosing the dog mentioned above with any specific problem.  This is my opinion based upon the writings of several veterinary professionals, researchers, and others that I have commiserated with on this specific subject.  Take it as a “springboard” to doing your own research, and doing your own detective work.

The dog in question has massive loss of hair, and inflammation.  It is heartbreaking.  Frustrating to the owner, frustrating to the dog.  And expensive.  When the dogs history is given, even to the most rudimentary degree, it is suspected that this dog has been, and is, being treated with catabolic steroids, for its symptoms.

This article is not specifically about that dog, (which I am not qualified to diagnose, nor am I attempting to do so), but rather, about the use of steroids in veterinary medicine.  This individual dogs’ case brought about this subject, and I have decided to give you my educated “opinion” of the use of these oft prescribed drugs.  Take from it what you will.

 

Weight-lifters, Baseball sluggers, football players, and other sports figures have long known about the effects of Anabolic steroid use.  They are used to produce massive muscle formation, bulk, and strength.  They work.  Period.  But the side effects often prove to be disasterous

I took my time jumping into the latest controversy regarding the adaptation of “A Dog’s Purpose” by W. Bruce Cameron, into a feature length movie. I, and many others enjoyed the book, and looked forward to seeing something positive and uplifting on the big screen. Especially something about dogs.

What happened, with the apparent release of some behind-the-scenes footage during filming, was nothing short of a firestorm. Who officially put the heart wrenching video out into the world, is still somewhat up in the air.
The author of the book, Mr. W. Bruce Cameron, it should be noted posted the following on the Facebook page the following:

A Dog’s Purpose
18 January at 22:56
..
Everyone:

I was as disturbed as you were by the video I saw earlier today. Though obviously edited and hysterically headlined, the images speak for themselves.
I have asked the studio for an explanation and have been assured they are reviewing every single frame of footage shot that day and interviewing the people who were there. (I wasn’t.)
I want all the facts at my disposal before I pronounce judgment or issue an opinion.
I will give you an update as soon as I have one. — Bruce

So…Just WHAT did we see? What is the backstory? It’s important that we take it slowly, and patiently. There are so many ways that this story could be nothing more than propaganda for certain viewpoints regarding the use of animals by our society. On the other hand, we might have have been watching nothing more than plain and simple, Abuse of a Living Being. Either way, this situation says something about us as a society.
Firstly, we need to understand that everything we see from media, is questionable at best, and pure garbage at it’s worst. That’s a sad statement, but that part of our society has done it to themselves. Question everything you hear, even if you agree with it, and gather evidence before you react.
Secondly, we need to understand that being motivated by profit, money, and fame, will always cost someone, or some dog, in ways that we may not see at first. This production was obviously in a hurry to finish this film, on time, and under-budget, as all businesses are wont to do. Rather than properly prepare this dog for what he was being told to do, we hear the voices of the trainers in the background yelling, “Throw him in, Thro him in!!” That IS the trainers fault. But they no doubt, were under pressure from the powers that be to get the shots that they needed, and get them done now.
We are not a patient society, or culture. Everything is driven by production, profit, and performance. Those things alone make us undeserving of the services of this dog, or any other living creature for our entertainment. This was ABUSE OF A LIVING CREATURE, no question about it. There was no good reason to put this dog into a life-threatening situation for the making of a movie for profit. The Trainers working with this dog, failed in every way that is important for the dog. The hierarchy of the director and his production team failed in being unaware (apparently) of what the second unit was doing to accomplish their tasks. By many reports, the accompanying conversation amongst the crew during the filming belies an attitude that everything was alright as long as the dog survived the ordeal. Foundational failure on every level.
The other side of the failure involves the motivations of the release of the clip. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, however they may or may not be involved, should be considered as hostile participants. Their stated purposes are certainly grand, and appear above contempt. Were they trying to help out with a bad situation for this individual dog in distress? Or are they more motivated by the desire to see ALL animals never again controlled by their human “Overlords”? These groups tend to operate in the dark recesses of purposeful, politically driven, peccadillo’s. They have a goal that they are pursuing aggressively. They have already destroyed such things as large Animal circuses with their meddling, and they would love to put and end to any activity that we choose to pursue with our dogs. Schutzhund, agility, obedience, dog shows, and else animal-centric. This clip was either custom made for, and by them, or was serendipity of the most fortunate kind.
Be careful of what or who you support. You might be cutting off your nose to spite your own face.

Yes, it is a simple case of Animal Abuse on film. There should be punishment rendered. Sadly, the film should be removed from theatres, not allowed ONE CENT of profit. The “trainers” involved, should be censured by Professional Organizations and the Movie Industry, whoever that should involve. I will not support the movie by seeing it, nor will I give any critique of it here on this blog, even though it was requested. Not going to happen.
The complicating factors in what happened are more convoluted. Who released the footage, and why? How much of this type of behavior takes place on movie and television projects that we don’t hear about? Is there a darker objective at work here?
We need to keep our eyes wide open gang. We are so divided as a society, with sides being drawn over everything. Opinion and ideology have usurped truth and propriety every day. Unfortunately, in this case, an innocent dog paid the price.
I have decided to not link to the film clip. It needs no more exposure. As a stand alone item, it is indefensible, and highly disturbing. As a clarion call to action, it deserves our attention within the confines of future prevention. That is all…

Thanks to Angie Ballman-Winters for spurring me to finally engage this subject. See her website here: http://www.angie4dogs.com/

In the meantime…Read the books and see the story behind what could have been a wonderful film…http://adogspurpose.com/

Heart Warming to Heart Breaking.

Posted: January 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

The production of the movie, ” A Dog’s Purpose” has cause a firestorm of controversy from both sides. It can be difficult, in the current atmosphere of distrust towards ALL media, to take any story at face value. A dog behaviorist/trainer from central Ohio, Angie Ballman-Winters put out this video commentary, and it provides some clarity. The levels of failure on the part of the Director and the production crew are to numerable to report. The representatives of the Humane society and their failures are worthy of intense investigation and censure.
Having read the original book, this film was one that I looked forward to seeing for myself. That will not happen now.

I would love to hear from my readers what your thoughts are on this unfortunate, nearly tragic, situation.

https://www.facebook.com/Angie4dogs/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED

http://www.angie4dogs.com/

Time Well Spent…

Posted: January 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

Those who know me accept that I am a professional “Small Boy”. Even as I became a “responsible adult”, I always allowed the small boy to keep a tree fort in my heart. There, I’m enamored of Red Ryder BB guns, fishing poles, model rockets, and silly songs about “greasy, grimy, gopher guts”. The small boy comes out when the responsibilities of being an adult become wearisome, and need to be exorcised.
This small boy has a special memory that he still dreams about frequently. I will share with every puppy that I ever train. I have the help of my faithful minion, Hans, my aforementioned German shepherd in this educational process. He was the first recipient of my dream, and it’s most enthusiastic supporter.
I was in 3rd or 4th grade when the Scholastic Book Truck came to my elementary school, delivering unto me a colorful book called “Where The Wild Things Are”, by Maurice Sendak. This book ignited the fire that I tend to this day, nearly fifty years later. The fire is my ability to return to the freedom of being a little boy. I put on my imaginary Wolf suit, and enjoy a “Wild Rumpus” with my closest friends, my German Shepherds.
Hans has been in on the secret for most of his life, and he revels at the opportunity to join in the games. We go to the nearest open field and chase each other, play with toys, scare off flocks of geese, and whatever other mischief we can find. We wrestle and play tug-of-war with reckless abandon, play keep away, forgetting about the rules of proper canine/handler behavior. Mommy, being Mommy, has no patience for such shenanigans. But we forgive her because she’s not in a place to understand little boys.
During her puppyhood, we introduced our Holly to these secretive forays into misbehavior, because she had so much energy to burn. We knew that someday soon, when the estrogen began to hold sway, she’d betray us to Mommy. Such is the way of the feminine persuasion. Until then, she’s was one of us.
I firmly believe that dogs and little boys were created for each other by a loving God that designed the symbiotic need we have for each other. Such relationships are not possibly born of chance. Little boys love to wade in muddy rivers, and their loyal dogs will join them without hesitating. Chasing the leaves blown by autumn wind is not a frivolous pursuit, but teaches us to persevere in our favorite pastimes. Watching the clouds float by for no clear reason, teaches and reminds us that looking to heaven for the really important answers to the really important questions, is vital.
I cherish the “little boy” times that the dogs and I share. As an adult, I often rely on “experience” to make decisions and learn. The little boy learns things by jumping in with both feet, arms flailing, mud splotches appearing on as many surfaces as possible. It’s a tactile way of learning, marked by the bumps and bruises of enthusiasm and youth. It builds our bond in a singular manner, and will carry on into whatever years we have together. Now, as an adult, I know that the wild rumpus is the best part of being a little boy, but that the adult world views it as silly.
But for a little while every day, the dogs and I explore the place where my little boy lives. And I’m a better man for it. When we are finished, time to return to reality, I think of this line from Sendek:
“And [he] sailed back over a year and in and out and of weeks
and through a day and into the night of his very own room
where he found his supper waiting for him
and it was still hot”

I have the best of both worlds today, and I am a happy man.