The miracle of our relationship with dogs
I’m off in an hour to Virginia to do the For the Love of a Dog seminar on Saturday (about emotions in people and dogs) and a half day version of Both Ends of the Leash (focusing on how OUR behavior influences that of our dogs). Both seminars are fulfilling to do, I love doing them both. Spending a day on emotions—the basis of our bond with dogs if you think about it—is always wonderful for me. Every time I give the seminar I learn something new, and every time I end the day overwhelmed at the miracle of our relationship with a entirely different species. Think about it: two very different species with individuals who will risk their life for a member of the other species. That’s amazing, truly amazing.
On Sunday we’ll become field ethologists observing the always interesting behavior of people and dogs, focusing on communication. What signal does your dog respond to when you say “sit?” It well might not be the word… do you move your head? move your arms? Does your dog even notice the word, if he’s busy watching your body? And when you do talk, how do you use your voice? Can you use it like a singer, and make your voice model what you want your dog to do or feel? We practice in the seminar (okay, it gets a little noisy when everyone practices at once!) and leave even more conscious of how our voice and our movements are always ‘talking’ to our dogs, whether we know it or not!
I’ve gotta run, but here’s the words that end Saturday’s seminar, after a discussion of why we love dogs so much. It’s a testament to my soul mate dog, Luke, taken from the end of the book, For the Love of a Dog.
There’s a stone I had made for Luke at the top of the hill road, where the pasture opens wide and the setting sun highlights the words carved into its face. “That’ll do, Luke, that’ll do.” The words are said to working dogs all over the world when the chores are done and the flock is settled: “That’ll do dog, come home now, your work is done.” Luke’s work is done too. He took my heart and ran with it, and he’s running still, fast and strong, a piece of my heart bound up with his, forever.
Here’s me and Lassie up the hill, in a beautiful photo taken by Amanda Jones.