Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dog as Teacher

When I brought my first dog home, I thought all that was required was cuddling, food and water, and medical care.  What I hadn't realized, was that there would be a ton of learning going on.  Obedience training for the new pup, you ask?

No.  I would be pupil, with dog as teacher.
This lesson was not readily apparent to me.

Sure, there was the old "sit" and "stay", all the usual training that dogs learn to be reasonable members of a household.  But what I was learning from my dog, were the life lessons.  The states of being.  That dogs follow calm, assertive energy (thanks, Cesar) and how keenly they're connected to whatever feelings their people are feeling.  I drank in all the wisdom of dog behaviorists and trainers, like Patricia McConnell, Ian Dunbar, Dr. Sophia Yin, Victoria Stilwell and Cesar Millan.  I plucked knowledge gems away from these doggie gurus and squirreled them away, like a hoarder surrounded by all her valuable treasures.  I have a library of books about dogs - their behaviors, their communication, their working abilities, their roles in history, and their breed characteristics.  I immersed myself completely in the world of dogs.

But I was missing something.  I'd learn some great truth, apply it and see how it worked with my own dogs.  But then I'd allow myself to become distracted with something stupid.  Like a fish with a shiny bauble dangling before her, I'd forget the great truth and let the world sink its claws into me.  The lesson forgotten, I'd become impatient with my dogs and feel frustrated.  Result - unbalanced, reactive dogs with an unbalanced, anxious owner.

As I approach my birthday, I'm reflecting back on the year with pride.  There's no great mystery I've solved, but I'm learning to be at peace with myself.  I'm starting to experience what some might call wisdom.  That I am defined by my actions, not my words.  That I should hold my head high, shoulders back - there's a great deal to be proud of.  That no matter how much I worry about anything, it can't change.  Only forward action matters.  And finally, that my perspective dictates the outcome of each and every endeavor.

Positivity.  Calm.  Assertiveness.  Pride.  Action.  With these simple principles, my world changes.  Whether it's walking with Nyxie, or how I face each day at work, or how I react to people bent on negative energy.  The shift has been amazing.  I'm not sure how I spent years as a reactive, insecure person!  Wow - that was a difficult thing to admit...

But why be embarrassed about these things when the force to change it is working?  I'm hoping that each year brings this sort of wisdom, this new learning.  Inner peace, contentment.

I'm ready for the next evolution.


  1. Wow! This is truly a year to celebrate! Your evolution is like a flower finally given enough water and sunlight to burst into bloom! You have reached a point many never do and it is a delight and honor to share your rightful joy and pride! We, all of the White Dog Army and OUR pupil, momma, salute you!

  2. I would have to agree with you as I have struggled with the same insecurities and fears and have watched my dogs react in this same manner.

    It is amazing what dogs teach us while we are teaching them. I too believe I am turning a corner that I am beginning to see through dog eyes and it is so much better than my own.

    Here's to a new year of growth and open mindedness for you and your family.

    Happy Birthday!

  3. Yes they do pick up quickly on your moods :-)

  4. The Lady Of The House says she loves that post - and you are right to be proud of yourself.

    She says I've changed our family for the better too.

  5. We have to agree with all your commenters AND with you too. A positive, calm, and confident attitude will take you to great places.

    Happy Birthday.

    Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  6. I've noticed the same thing. Years ago when I was busy with the every-day hectic life, the dogs I had back then were also on the wild side, never listening, and very hyper...just like me. Now that I've retired and live a more quiet life, the dogs here with me now are all basically couch potatoes (like me, but don't tell anyone :o)

  7. It sounds like it has been a wonderful year so far.
    Benny & Lily

  8. We love today's post.:)

    Teddy Bear & Sierra

  9. This weekend should be a wonderful celebration of life: Earth Day, Ronnii and Richie's Party, Easter. May you feel the awakening of all that is bright and hopeful and new and beautiful.

  10. Hi ya! Well...must tell you, mom's been mulling on this post since she read it last night :) There have been quite a few stresses around my house lately, and I am definitely feeling it....and sensing how my hoomans are feeling! Thank you for reminding all of us the keys to balance between furpals and hoomans.
    Happy Birthday and a toast to growth and open mindedness!

    Sweet hugs,
    Sierra Rose

  11. It is amazing what our dogs can teach us about how to really LIVE life

  12. There are trainers and books, but we are the ones who have to realise how to understand our dogs and how to create a bond with them. You have taken a great step and your dogs have taught you a priceless lesson. I'm happy you have also applied it in other aspects of your life as well.

    Happy Easter!

  13. Happy almost Birthday! Dogs are the greatest teachers...and everyone above has posted such true replies...calm, assertive, positive energy is good for both the canine and their hu-parents! Very nice post!

  14. Hi Arwen & Nyxie,

    Thanks for coming over to visit me! I always like making new friends and my human says she could really relate to your human's thoughts. I'm her first dog so she has also been on a HUGE learning curve!!

    Honey the Great Dane

  15. Thanks for writing about your transformation. It's a beautiful thing. I've learned and grown so much from having Tommy in my life, too.

    Hope you have (or had?) a fantastic birthday!

  16. What a great post. Congratulations on finding a new perspective on your life. I hope you path in life is filled with rays of sunshine.

  17. What a great post. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  18. It is truly amazing what we can learn from our pets. They bring such joy into our lives. Hope you had a wonderful birthday.

  19. You are so right that we are the pupils and our dogs are the teachers. It's easy to forget.


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