I was on assignment in the San Juan Islands. Waiting for the ferry to head back to the mainland, I sat on the beach wrapping up my article notes on island serenity and simplicity. A young man walked by with a small beagle on a leash. His lively, inquisitive companion was a very young pup. Each time a seagull zoomed in for a landing, the little dog tried to scurry and chase the bird. Each time his excitement peaked, his paws were tugged out from under him by a harsh tug to the lead. And with every yank the puppy choked and flipped upside down. I witnessed this appalling behavior a number of years ago. It was long before everyone and his brother carried a gun, so I wasn’t afraid to say something. As it turned out, the young man was very nice and didn’t hit me when I lightly commented on his rough behavior. He explained he’d just gotten the dog and wanted to get him trained as soon as possible. I said I’d owned several dogs over the years and understood. I assured the guy I wasn’t a pushy trainer, but did say that control of my pets came easily and without forcefulness once I got to know my dog and they knew me. He smiled and thanked me as he bent to pet his dog’s head. “We’re all receptive to love,” I said as he walked away with a kinder stride, a calmer pup.
There’s a lot to consider with a new dog. Breed, age, background all play important roles in training and how these considerations are handled is up to each owner. But everyone can begin with humanity. I think getting to know your dog starts with looking at their face, into their eyes, taking in their unconditional love and trust, offering it back. I look at my little Dusty and can almost weep with the love and loyalty I see, sometimes wondering if I’m able to come close to replicating his gifts. Forming a loyal, trusting bond has always been most important for me and my critters as I gently, consistently introduce a schedule and good behavior. And I do support professional trainers for many dogs and owners. I used one with good success for my hyper Westie, Brodie, years ago. But I choose to begin each pet relationship with the kindness and understanding every living being deserves. At the end of the day we are CRITTERS ALL.
HOW HUMBLE THE LINKS
BETWEEN ALL LIVING BEINGS
BEATING HEARTS, EXPANDING LUNGS,
PAIN FELT AS STRONGLY AS PLEASURE,
FEAR EXPERIENCED AS DEEPLY AS JOY
RESPONDING TO KINDNESS, DESERVING OF LOVE
EACH BREATH, EACH WHIMPER ENTWINED AS ONE SPIRIT,
ENHANCING THE ENERGY, PROPELLING OUR UNIVERSE
A UNITY OF SOULS, A SIMPLICITY OF TRUTH
AT DAY’S END WE ARE CRITTERS ALL