Monday, March 22, 2010

The dogs in my life

The Monks say to make room for your dog in space and mind. I think raising a dog expands your mind or bends it, if not taken seriously. As a child I have owned "mutts." In high school my grandparents gave me a Miniature Dachshund that I named Yahtzee after a favorite game.

I was "dogless" for about ten years while living in apartments. I bought my first home with a yard that needed filling. Indiana, mostly an indoor dog, came into my life and enjoyed the backyard no matter her "indoor" status.

Dog training or wolf training?

Do we ever look at the dog's two inch teeth and think wolf? We should. that seems to be at the heart of the Monks' approach. Wolves and dogs are similar in the need for social interaction and to be part of a pack.

I thank Indiana for being part of my pack. She was a comfort in all realms. Want to watch TV? She was there. A walk? She got the leash. A threat? She growled or barked a protective warning. Indy seemed to get most of the Monks' dog training techniques from gentle eye contact to the fact that we listened to each other's needs.

Pack training needed support

At one stage in her life, she went to doggie boot camp because her pack leader--me--failed the leadership test. She was gone for about three weeks to Matthew Margolis' center, now called Uncle Matty's Dog Training Center. I think there was separation anxiety for Indy and me.

New pack member joins the dog training team

I married a few years after Indy's boot camp experience. She accepted Galen, the new pack member, along with his Calico cat, Hannover. Indy died about 20 years ago at the age of nearly 11. Her sweet disposition taught me to strive to be kinder.

Since then my husband and I brought two Basenjis, a humorous and challenging breed, into our pack. They wanted nothing to do with dog training. Galen, who had never owned a dog, wanted a canine that didn't bark, barely shed and was like a cat. Careful what you ask for.

The Basenjis--a female named Vogue and a male named Sirius--were truly as independent as cats. They had three things they did best: ignore you, make you laugh and ignore you.

Monk dog training tip

The one Monk dog training trick that worked best for them was when we avoided eye contact when they acted up. Basenjis do not like to be ignored. After 16 years, Sirius died. His sister mourned him so much, never having been separated from her litter mate, that we adopted a nearly four-month old Bull Terrier to keep her company. Vogue will be 18 in April.

I've had eight dogs in my life, including Jeep, the Bull Terrier. I'm still learning how to be my dog's best friend.

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