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Dogs Reveal Who We Are

February 9th, 2010

When I observe certain dogs I’m allowed to see a small portion of a person’s hopes and dreams.  Not that they know they’ve given me this rare and honored glimpse into themselves, but still, there in front of me stands the living, breathing embodiment of the person’s deepest hopes.

Good or bad, dogs are a litmus test of the true person.  Dogs reveal who we really are.

I often catch a shining moment of compassion.  The dog is kind to a small animal and so I realize the owner has enhanced the dog’s kindness.  Or, it might be I glance and view happiness.  A dog cannot be happy without an owner who is, also.  Confidence quietly wraps the dog and I understand a human has helped it learn to master problems without fear or insecurity remaining.  Loving, loyal companionship, a head that follows your movement, an ear cocked to the sound of your return, a body sleepily making contact with yours are all indications that an aware and caring human has extended the gifts of respect, emotional honesty, and the right to express individuality to their dog at some point.

The human has learned to bear the mantle of leadership well, all for their dog’s sake.  I’m not referring to the dog’s obedience, though on the surface that’s what trainers would have you believe creates a good dog.  I’m speaking of the human trying to understand the dog better, to communicate, to trust, to enjoy, offering freedom, emotional security, a complete existence rich and varied, full of respect for the individual dog and his intelligence.  A life wherein the human helped him learn behavioral skills that he would need in order for him to feel at ease and for people to like him.

The person will turn themselves inside out and never complain.  They’ll change old habits.  They’ll face their inadequacies squarely and strive to improve themselves in order that their dogs have a better chance to live life to its fullest and be seen as a good dog.

Being human they may fail often, but never stop trying.  They may fall short and push harder to make it right the next time.  They will force themselves to admit their shortcomings and then diligently concentrate on personal change in order to make it easier for their dog to achieve the human’s unexpressed personal desire – for others to see in the eyes of their dog what they themselves have seen – a good, loving, intelligent and respected companion.

I may not hear from people for months, but when I do I will hear pride and contentment come through in their voices or in the words they write about their dogs.  I may see them after a long hiatus and notice a confidence and new, unspoken communication flowing between the two.  Pleasure, from both dog and human, is almost visible to my naked eye as a shimmering color.

It seems, whenever I begin to wonder if I truly make a difference, or help people and their dogs, I encounter or hear from someone and they radiate quiet contentment and pleasure over their deepening relationship with their dog.  When life is very generous, the dog  remembers me and is pleased to see me again.  For me, it is one of life’s greatest treasures.

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  1. From Kelly Suddoth, February 10, 2010:

    This is so very true. I took my dog to get Canine Good Citizen and Therapy dog certified and never once practiced the test before test night. I teach my dog good behavior so when we walked in there I made her behave and we passed both tests with flying colors! I don’t know what I would do if I hadn’t met Susan and adopted her theory. It truly works and my dog and I have a wonderful relationship now.

  2. From Susan Overfield, February 11, 2010:

    That’s great, Kelly. Congrats!
    I bet your pup thought it was easy, just normal stuff. I’ll also bet your students are flying through class. BTW, we’re working on holding a trainers workshop, probably Aug, for 2 or 3 days. I’ll let you know. Come, bring a couple of friends, combine it with a vacation. We’ll have fun. Again, I think it’s fantastic that you passed.

  3. From Cindy, Newton, Levi, Nitro, Milo Shipe, February 28, 2010:

    I whole heartedly agree. I’ve helped many dog owners at our club and those who truely listen and try to understand what I’m saying come back later (and no, I can most times NOT remember owners names, but I DO remember the dogs)and tell me how well their getting along and you can see the difference you’ve made just by getting them to start understanding their dog and not seeing it as a piece of furnature to be moved about. Susan, I LOVE it!
    I know I’ve learned to see my shy-guy with different eyes and I swear I’ll keep trying. I know he sees me as “safe”, now I have to work on getting him to see me as leader and in control. THAT will still take time, but I WILL get there.

  4. From Alessandra Rose, March 30, 2010:

    I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked your site to check out the new stuff you post.

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