Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each. – Plato
Dickens can test the most patient human on earth. He’s a handful, but little by little we’ve learned to communicate with each other. To relay our needs without resorting to throwing things to or at each other, the exception being ball throwing.
Tonight as we enjoyed the night sky over on my neighbor’s deck, Dickens ran around the yard and the deck with reckless abandon. He had a buddy in the form of another small dog to pal around with. I admit he gets supercharged, especially if the humans are enjoying food. He wanted his turn at the fruit, cheese, crackers, and chips that the uprights stuffed in their faces. Wasn’t that fair? For any dog, sharing the spoils seems natural, not for a gluten-free, lactose-intolerant terrier. He had to settle for apples & peanut butter.
During the evening I noticed one of the guests donning the persona of a dog trainer. She’d correct her dog. Fine. If Dickens and her dog came too close, she decided to discipline Dickens. Not fine. Then she decided to admonish me telling me not to worry. Are you kidding? Not by a long-shot fine. If her dog wore a halo, that sucker sat crooked on his head because as she called him, he didn’t come, which resulted in her…wait for it….banging on the patio table, followed by stamping her feet, followed by an elaborate shouting, banging, and stomping scenario until the dog responded probably in attempt to quiet her. (And, just for the record, every time I called Dickens, he ran to me enthusiastically.) I chilled as I watched the scene.
Now Dickens has a strict policy that he not be left out when it comes to food. If you’re sitting down, filling your yaw with goodies, he feels it necessary to get your attention by grabbing a corner of a jacket or shirt just to get your attention. Well-behaved? Uh, no, but not lethal by any stretch. Now our hostess ran into the house for refills. Dickens latched onto a corner of this lady’s jacket resulting in the woman snatching her unopened water bottle in trying to pound at my aforementioned pooch. OK, repeat after me “NOT FINE!”. Nowhere in any conversations with canine professions have they mentioned or have I found a chapter entitled “Clubbing Your Dog with a Water Bottle for Better Behavior” in the myriad dog training books.
I snatched Dickens up in one fell swoop for a little time-out on my lap. He settled in immediately and gently put his head down. With all the activity around him, it dawned on me he felt overwhelmed with all the stimulation and none too happy with a certain someone’s dog training prowess. Not wanting to cause a scene, I didn’t say anything, I wanted to, but out of respect to my hostess, I just held my pup who at this point lay calmly and serenely away from the mayhem.
So, here’s what the Universe taught me tonight: 1) Dickens and I still have work to do, but we can meet it calmly and effectively. 2) If anyone wants get my Irish up, then if you so much as dare to take a full water bottle to my dog to what you call “correct him”, you’ll have to get past me first.
Plato was right!
Stay tuned for Part II
Thank you for reading.