When training your dog, increase his ability to think, his confidence, your pride. As he learns new commands, begin to string them together and see what happens.
As you admire your teaching ability and his learning, don’t forget that he knows things you don’t. Be sure to observe him when he’s outside, when he’s meeting new people, when he’s interacting with other dogs. Note what he does when you’re happy, when you’re feeling ill, when you plan to leave the house with him, or God forbid, without him. Figure out what he thinks is funny so that you get it when he cracks a joke. Take him seriously, too. He’s so much smarter than you think!
Need more hints? Here they are:
We planned to leave in late April and stay through mid-May because Sky was due to come into heat in June, but things don’t always work out as you plan and at least now I know that I can still outrun an interested collie and a very interested bulldog, not to mention various other male dogs who thought at last their dreams had come true. The day she first flagged, we went to two museums, figuring correctly that there’d be no other dogs checking out the art but our own.
She seemed to prefer little dogs with big ideas, Yorkies and Chihuahuas. But we had left home with two dogs and decided to return with the same number.
All in all, being in France with a dog in season wasn’t too bad. Because of two previous such surprises, I had packed her pants, and she wore them in the hotel room. Other than that, and a few sprints away from amorous French dogs (all of whom seem to be fully equipped), it was no big deal. And since I am reading more and more about some health problems associated with neutering, I am willing to have the bother once every nine months or so to keep a dog, of whom I expect the world, intact. I know many will disagree with me, but I have always found the leash and swift feet to be good birth control.
The French, not only their dogs, love dogs and integrate them into their lives in a lovely way. As you no doubt know, dogs are welcomed in most restaurants in France, so it is not odd to find one at the next table. The French spend a lot of time socializing and drinking coffee or wine at charming outdoor cafes, their dogs lying, as ours do, next to the table. And no one raised an eyebrow when we stopped at the pharmacy or a pretty shop with two dogs in tow. Going to a museum with a dog is not allowed, but despite the fact that France only has service dogs for the blind and the French are not accustomed to service dogs for other disabilities, we were allowed to go to museums with Sky and Monk. Sometimes it took a bit of talking, but in the end, we got to see the Mona Lisa, some splendid Renoirs and, best of all, a special exhibit of Van Gogh paintings which, for me, would have made the whole trip worthwhile had there been nothing else to do.
There’s something very special about seeing other places with your dog (and France is one of those places where it’s easy to do that, even if your dog is not a service dog.) I always get a double thrill, seeing and experiencing a new place with my own senses and then watching the way my dog reacts, what she likes, what she notices. Having dogs with us paved the way for lots of conversations we would not have had otherwise and that, too, made the trip richer for us.
Most emotional for me was the happy accident of reserving a table in a well reviewed restaurant and discovering, when we got there, that it was the same place we had gone with Flash, my previous service dog, in 2000. We were even led to the same table, in the window. We couldn’t replicate this wonderful photo of him because the Musee Picasso is still being renovated.
But we did manage to find other Picasso sculptures which paired up nicely with, in this case, a slightly bored dog.
For me, and I’m sure this is true for many of you as well, there’s no experience that can’t be improved by having a dog along. As wonderful as it was to be in beautiful Paris, everything was more beautiful because Sky was right there with me.
Most naughty dogs, and face it, most dogs are naughty sometimes, do not know the difference between stealing a defrosting steak and stealing something potentially lethal. Most good dogs, and face it, most dogs are good most of the time, do not understand what exuberantly running across the street to greet a canine or human friend could do to them. Untrained and unmonitored, dogs will pick up food from the street, walk on broken glass, try to pull something hot off the stove, steal chocolate, eat poisonous plants, stick their head into a hole which happens to be the den of some biting creature, have a tussle with a porcupine. Since you are the one to keep your dog safe, the way you’d keep your children safe, doesn’t this make you your dog’s parent?
Many dogs, even dogs without official jobs, work alongside humans and help them with chores or all kinds, moving the sheep, finding the lost child, fetching the downed duck, detecting an explosive device. They help people feel well, too, alerting them to potential problems, assuaging pain, letting them know the phone is ringing or taking them where they need to go. Doesn’t this make the dog your partner?
And more than likely, even if you adopted your dog at a shelter, you paid your money and signed some papers. Doesn’t this make you your dog’s owner? Or the more PC term, your dog’s guardian?
What do words matter? We take care of our dogs, they take care of us. But words are powerful. So perhaps they do matter. Perhaps what you call yourself deeply colors how you view your dog and your role in his life. Perhaps parent and guardian guide you to seeing the dog as a puppy, forever infantilized, the child who never grows up. Perhaps the word owner inspires you to see the dog as a thing, something you can discard when you tire of him. Perhaps the word partner helps you recognize that even without an official job, your dog will stay close and comfort you when you are sick, will let you know there’s someone at the door even if you know that anyway, will offer you a reason to take a long walk, play a game or do other things that are social and keep you young. Perhaps the word partner, my choice, will remind you that sometimes the dog knows best and sometimes you do, but since you supply the food, the warm bed, shelter from the weather, since you watch out for traffic and broken glass and put your medicine away carefully and take him to the veterinarian when he needs a check-up, that you are the senior partner, but even so, there are occasions to swap roles, because he knows some things you don’t, and maybe the word partner will help you keep that in mind, letting you think about when to be in charge and when to just be.
Dogs need to know what you want them to do. They like to know what you want them to do. Even when dogs have no intention of obeying you, they need to know what it is they need to ignore.
Clarity is a gift you can give your dog. It will make him shine. It will make him smarter. It will help his world make sense. Clarity will show you clearly (ahem) what your dog knows and is willing (usually) to do when asked and where the problems are.
This is not an April Fools joke. It’s the plain truth. It will help you to shine. It will make you smarter. It will help you make sense as the teacher of your dog and as the student of your dog.
I’m just sayin’.
I am adding some new drawings, but there are not an endless amount I can offer for sale. For now, because I will be away part of April and part of May and want to make sure all of these reach their forever homes before I leave, this will be it. As a reminder, these are drawings that were published. Some have dates on them. Some have corrections on them. Some are iconic and not easy for me to give up but your response has warmed my heart so here they are. These are for personal use only, please, absolutely not for business cards or brochures but, yes, hang yours in your office or your living room and enjoy it every day. You can also use yours, if so moved, as your profile pic on FB, just because that is where this all began.
Since this is an initial offering, prices are low. The drawings will arrive unframed AND, oh boy, there will be a present in the envelope with your drawing. What is it, what is it, what is it? A surprise you will love!
Without further ado, the drawings.
4 1/4 x 6, because you love bad dogs! pen and ink, watercolor wash, $250 RESERVED
5 x 5, black and white, gray wash, $225
4 1/2 x 6, pen and ink, watercolor wash, $250 (really cute!)
5 x 7, pen and ink, full color wash, $250
5 x 7, pen and ink, small amount of color wash, $250 SOLD
5 x 7, black and white with gray wash, from Mother Knows Best, $250 (I get visiting rights on this one.) SOLD
5 x 7, pen and ink with gray wash, $250
3 1/2 x 3 1/2, pen and ink with watercolor wash, $175 SOLD
Dogs make people feel better about themselves.
Dogs make people act better toward each other.
Dogs display their feelings flat out. There is no hidden agenda, no sarcasm, no spite. What you see is what your dog feels.
Dog help us form social networks, both in real life and in cyberspace.
Even when they don’t understand our words, dogs always understand our feelings.
Dogs let us feel more deeply than we are sometimes about to do on our own.
Dogs encourage us to share our feelings, as they share theirs.
Dogs don’t judge feelings. They accept them, and when appropriate, the act on them.