Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Open Eyes, Open Ears, Open Heart

This coming Friday Oscar and I have the opportunity to work with someone who I've been wanting to meet for over a year, Kathy Kawalec.  I had originally signed Oscar and I up to have a private sheep herding lesson last year with Kathy and, unfortunately, had to cancel because something came up.  In hindsight it was very likely a sign that it just was not the right time to do that type of "thing" with Oscar.

Fast forward several months and here we are; a few days away from "sheep herding" with Kathy's help and guidance.  I put the activity of sheep herding in parenthesis because I have some doubts that Oscar and I, together, will be ready to get in with the sheep and I'm 100% OK with that happening.

Friday is going to be about Oscar and I, on our continued journey together.  I look forward to this part of the journey and welcoming it with open eyes, open ears and an open heart to listen to what Oscar communicates to me...and to what Kathy guides us with.  Granted I have not trained with Kathy before, but I did have a lovely phone conversation with a her a few weeks back in preparation for our session and it was very awakening.  She has such a clear message in her teaching coaching to me; let your heart-connected relationship with Oscar remind you of all that is there, all that you can achieve together, and let it be the foundation for what you want to do and where you want to go.  Beautiful.

So, Kathy, if you're listening out there...here we come...with open eyes, open ears and open hearts. Sheep optional.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Helping Rehome

A dear friend of mine from college sent me a message earlier in the week asking if I knew of any places that would be willing to take in one of their two dogs who they are looking home.  Long story short, my friend and his wife have tried several trainers and, even an animal "behaviorist" to help their one dog's dog-dog aggression to no avail and of late, the aggressive outburst have been happening very close in proximity to their 1.5 year old son.  Not knowing who they used or the methods tried (positive and/or negative) and living too far away to personally help them with in-person training, I am doing the only thing I can...trying to help rehome this pup.

It has been an interesting feeling.  I don't feel bad that they are trying to rehome their dog, but I don't feel good either.  I'm quite impartial.  I've met the dog once while I was at their house for a couple of hours and my personal assessment is that this particular pooch has arousal and impulse control issues(something very near and dear to my heart).  It's cocky to say that if I were to work with this dog that I could help it work through the issues it has with the other house dog because, quite frankly, I don't know if I could.  It does bother me that I cannot be there, in the flesh to try and help...not only the dog, but the owners.  I know it is tearing them apart to have to do this, but they are doing the right thing.

I've spread my wings and typed many emails asking for help from other friends in the doggy community and we are all working together to try and find a new home for this dog.  Still it has been a numbing process to be helping a dog that, if not rehomed, will likely be euthanized.  You better believe I am doing everything in my power to make sure that this pup gets a chance to live on this earth for as long as possible.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Positive Encounters of the Same Kind

Over the past week I have had two incidents while out walking with each of my pups, respectively, that have left a HUGE smile on my face. These were moments where I was observant of others around me.  Watching what they were doing (or not doing, in incident #2) with their dog.

Incident #1
Tuesday, early morning.
Laura and Fanny's morning walk.
I was out walking with Ms. Fanny and saw up ahead the "The Doodle Jogger" coming down the street toward us.  (Aaron and I have nicknames for certain dog/human teams in our neighborhood that are memorable...both for good and bad "stuff."  This is one of the "good" people.)  The Doodle Jogger was on her morning jog and has always been respectful of the space around other people...whether they have dogs or not...and often times moves completely off the sidewalk and into the street or even to the other sidewalk.  Tuesday morning was no exception.  Fanny always notices The Doodle Jogger and perks up her head at the 4-legged crew member.  They've never had an exchange of words and, admittedly, the doodle has very lovely, non-confrontational body language.  The one thing I noticed this particular morning as I was watching them, was that right after the Doodle team passed us the human quietly said, "Good dog, (insert name here)" and pulled out a tasty treat from her pocket and  delivered it to her trusty, furry companion.  I smiled...ear-to-ear...at this exchange of simple, concise and beautiful communication.  The Doodle Jogger just moved up a few more notches in my book.

Incident #2
Thursday, after work.
Laura and Oscar's evening walk.
Oscar and I have been having great moments on our walks for the past number of weeks.  This week alone we have walking up and back North Ave. multiple times while people are busy coming in and out of shops, restaurants and gas stations.  We don't stop to chat with anyone but keep going...together (Oscar likes to keep things moving - both himself and other people/dogs around us).  On Thursday evening, I decided to walk us down North Avenue a few blocks, then take a turn and walk through the neighborhood a bit.  We were walking along very well, then all of a sudden a kid (probably about 8-10 y/o) came around the corner of a house riding his bike and just stopped at the corner on the sidewalk.  He was about 15 feet away from Oscar who hadn't noticed him because his was busy sniffing a huge tree trunk.  I kept my cool and just let Oscar continue sniffing.  I had my treats ready at the hip to reward him for good decision making when he would, inevitably, get stared at by the kid.  Well, guess what?  That didn't happen.  The kid looked over at us briefly and smiled at Oscar and me then, turned his head and body away from us and continued to wait at the corner.  I gave Oscar a very nice, calm "good job buddy" as I slipped him a treat, then we walked right past the kid who still continued to wait.  As we crossed the street, I looked around to see who or what he was waiting for and saw his father and their gorgeous St. Bernard (whom I see weekly) coming down the sidewalk about 1/2 block back.  Knowing the father a little bit, I know he has taught his child to respect dogs and greet them properly, if at all.  It was a great feeling I had and as I continued to cross the road, I looked back to the father and their dog and smiled and did a little wave.

These beautiful moments...these positive encounters of the same kind...make me hopeful that the change in tide is happening.  People are becoming more educated and receptive to the power of positive training and aren't afraid to do it in public, no matter what time it is.