The Plays The Thing

Here's a video I'm going to show in New Zealand of Willie, Hope and friend Mico, from this summer. I'm not going to say much about it, because I am curious what words you would use to describe what you are seeing. Watch it a couple of times, and then if you are so inspired, describe the behavior of the two younger dogs. (Willie is the adult BC, Hope is the medium sized young BC, and the other black and white guy, the smallest dog, is what looks like a BC/Bully breed cross, but his genetics are unknown.) I'm especially curious how you describe a few of the things that Hope does..... Can't wait to hear your comments! MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Wheeeee... just a few more days before we go! Lots more to do, but we'll make it. Can't wait til the "drive away from the farm with Willie in Read More

Life is One Continuous Mistake

sunflowers 9-10

Those are the words of Dogen Zenji, a Zen master, quoted in one of my favorite books, Zen Miracles by Brenda Shoshanna. I repeat them here, because I think they have the power to ease life’s journey for all of us. The message is simple, but profound. Of course you, and everyone around you are going to make mistakes. It is inevitable, because, as the saying reminds us, “Life IS one continuous mistake.” Once we accept that, it is much easier to be loving and compassionate, both to ourselves and to others. When I first became interested in dog training, in the mid-80’s, I was shocked at how hard people were on their dogs. “Disobedience” by dogs was considered to be a direct challenge to a dog’s owner. Any time a dog responded inappropriately it was attributed to the dog being stubborn, or Read More

Update on Hope


Here's the latest on Hope and Willie: Both Willie and Hope continued to be "spooky" to all number of things. This occurred both on and off the farm, and to all sorts of sights and sounds. Willie began high-arousal barking and lunging to other dogs when on leash, and off leash he growled and tooth displayed at familiar dogs he's been fine with for years. He backed away, ears flat and commissure retracted, to men he's known and loved for years. Hope growled, barked and lunged at dogs, strange shapes and heaven only knows what else. Out of the blue, at least to us, one of the dogs would run charging toward the window that overlooks the driveway, making low, growly barks, hackles up, and set the other off to do the same. It was simple, in a way. Both dogs were insecure in their current Read More

One Step Forward, Several Steps Back

H and W on balconey

The Hope chronicles continue, with progress and problems. The good news is that Willie, on occasion, is stepping up to the plate a bit and not letting Hope bully him as often when they are in the house. As an example, ever since he was tiny, Hope has lept up growling and bitten at Willie's shoulders as they move through space.  At first I  thought it was play, but if it was, it's the kind of play in which one individual is having fun, the other not so much. Sometimes Willie seemed to ignore it, other times he'd tongue flick and look anxious. I came to see it more and more as a behavior related to controlling space, perhaps in part motivated by herding instincts, but rude nonetheless. All Willie needed to do was snap at him one time, and I suspect it would have stopped. I've never seen Read More

Hoping for Hope Part II

lily 8-10

I'm between washing off the sweat and dirt from worming our lambs and finishing my talk on Play in Toronto (got some great new video!), but I couldn't get on the plane without adding a few more words about Hope, Willie and the comments that have come in. I know that many readers don't read the comments, so I thought I'd address some of the questions that came up after my last post about Hope and Willie. If you haven't read yesterdays post, I wrote to alert readers that it is not yet clear to me that Hope is the right dog for Redstart Farm. He's only 5 months old, and I won't decide what is best for me, him or Willie until he gets older, but I wanted to let readers know that there are some red flags rising, so that you wouldn't be blindsided if I decide he's not a good fit. I didn't Read More