The Ten-Year Anniversary of OEL

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I was recently reminded that my first national book, The Other End of the Leash, was published in June of 2002, ten years ago (thank you Lisa). Wow. Ten years. It feels like a long time, and it feels like the years have flown by. Time is like that. There's something about big blocks of time and anniversaries--10 years, 25 years--that helps us to step out of our busy lives and look at the big picture. This feels especially relevant to me now as I work on a memoir. I find myself asking what parts of the book still resonate most for me, and what aspects of the book most relate to what I want to say in the memoir. At the moment there are two things that stand out the most: how understanding the world as best we can from a dog's perspective enriches our relationship, and how dogs are such a Read More

Life is One Continuous Mistake

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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

Dogs and Kids

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WRITTEN MID-JULY, POSTED WHILE I'M IN AFRICA: I recently spent three evenings with Jim's son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter Taylor, and so the issue of kids and dogs is near and dear to me right now. I also, in that serendipitous way of the world, just received a question about how to find help for a Boxer who growled at a grand child from the post Who Should Treat Behavioral Problems. Young children and dogs can be the best of friends, or the worst of enemies. There's just no way around it, to some dogs, kids can be unpredictable, rude, and/or frightening. And surely, to some kids, dogs can be unpredictable, rude and/or frightening. Given that, here's some generic advice, sprinkled with specifics from Will's encounters with Taylor. 1) Never live in the land of Read More

Willie versus Redford, Round Two; “Power” in Herding Dogs

This morning I tried to get a good photo of Redford confronting Will, but failed miserably. That's great news... I couldn't get the photo because every time Will walked within twenty feet of Redford, the ram turned and walked away. I did take a few photos, but my battery died so I can't upload them for you. I'll send some before the end of the week, of Will and sheep, and hopefully, of Snickers new lambs, if she ever, finally, gives birth. (We are calling her Explodo-Ewe at the moment.) Truffle's little white lamb is filling out like a champ. He's got all the milk to himself and is growing like crazy. He has started what I call "popcorn" play, which is pretty much like it sounds. First there is a lamb standing still, then there's a lamb leaping straight up into the air. Except in Read More