I almost forgot to mention that I get to see Larry Meiller (my co-host on the public radio show, now cancelled, Calling All Pets, for those of you who don’t know him) this coming Monday. I’ll be on his show from 11 to 11:45 and it’ll be lovely to work with him again and talk to folks in Wisconsin about their animals.
Meanwhile, back at the farm: Last night we had two house-shaking thunderstorms, no sleep for me and the dogs and hard work for the surge protector which was crying pitiously when I went downstairs at 3 am. Man it can be interesting to live in the midwest! We got about 3 inches at the farm, no damage that I can see, except the poor flowers took a beating.
Last night I took the dogs for a walk about a mile from the farm. I’d say a good time was had by all, but Willie is horrifically affected by heat and humidity (like many BC’s) and although it was only 80 it was very humid. By the time I got back to the car I was seriously worried about him, he overheats so easily and it was our first hot and humid day of the year here. Poor Willie, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. He seems fine now, but our work on sheep is restricted now to early early mornings or especially cool and dry days. You can even see in the photo below that he looks hotter than Lassie, and we had just started out. Classic early summer midwest scenery, hey?
Will there be a podcast available of you on the Larry M show? If so, will yo post the link?
How is your show/podcast going? Do you still need help with sponorship?
AB and I are now living in a “golf” household, and the “green” in front of Lassie and Willie looks like the rough of the US Open; nice and thick. Maybe your sheep need to “mow” it :).
We had some pretty bad t-storms here last Thursday, I could not find the peppermint oil for our “spastic” dog. I just had the 2 dogs do sits and downs (and the old 15 yr chow stand nicely) and gave treats. They were all calm and eventually my dog, AB, made her way to one of the bathrooms. The “spastic dog” (who only really barks at the thunder, not that “spastic,” IMHO) just wanted human attention and love. I think the Chowie (15 yr old) was pretty much oblivious, but just wanted in on some of the treats.
I hope you had a relatively calm weekend in WI.
I totally understand your apprehension at overheating your dog… my experience was terrifying. My dog has a rebuilt pelvis and nerve damage on a front leg, so he works doubly hard at just walking. I believe he prefers to work over being a house dog (he’s still only 3 years old) since he howls on those days he’s left behind… but I’ve come awfully close to losing him. You can read about our scary experience here: http://blog.rimrockenglishshepherds.com/search.aspx?q=exertional&sc=t&dt=a&al=
I have a long haired black German Shepherd and have to be very careful even here in PA. He loves being outside but seems to over heat very quickly.
We love your books and are very glad to have found your blog!
Jennifer Hamilton says
Interesting future topic?
My dog is very capable telling me what her needs are. She barks by the water dish when empty, barks by the door when needing to go outside, barks by the food bin when it’s time to eat, etc. She also goes into our training room and sits in the middle of the room when she wants to take a class and has completely trained me on her heirarchy of treats based on making conscious choices about which she values most.
Since my dog is a very clear communicator, but all of her communications require objects and context elements (i.e. if we are taking a walk, she can’t bark to tell me she’s thirsty because there’s no water bowl), I got the bright idea of creating our own language using scented objects in a basket. For example, teach her which object means water and then if she’s thirsty, she can pull out the object for water no matter where we are. But I wasn’t planning to stop with “needs”, I planned to include “wants” as well…with choices. I wanted to be able to ask her “Do you want to go swimming or do agility…you decide”. I was thinking this would create a improved language between the two of us since she’s already doing some of it already.
But just before I was about to start this next level of training, I started to wonder…
– Would I want to have my dog telling me what she wants to do rather then just being happy with whatever the day brings?
– If she tells me she wants to do something right now that I can not fulfill, how would I explain that to her. Would I start to disappoint her on a regular basis?
– Is the beauty of a dog in part that once their basic needs are met, they’re happy to go with the flow?
-If I teach my dog two-way communication, will we be more satisfied with our relationship or less satisfied?
It occured to me that I was about to change a fundamental element of my relationship with my dog and that perhaps that wouldene a mistake.
If your dog could tell you what it wants to do based on a range of options, would you want to know? Even if it’s not what you want…or what you expected?
Carol, what a terrifying experience (and what a gorgeous photo of your gorgeous dog!) I am so glad things worked out. Whew.
And Jennifer, you ask the greatest questions! I’d love to hear more responses to it, I’ll post a blog about it someday. But for now….. here’s a story that might help you decide. When I began living with a cat named Lena (Thumbalina for short), I was studying behavior and was fascinated by hers. In trying to interpret her obvious requests for …. something, I began trying to give her things I thought she might be wanting. She’d come over and vocalize, looking right into my face. Okay, I’d get up, stop what I was doing and try feeding her, or opening the door, rubbing her head, etc. In a few months I had created a demanding, impossible cat who, not surprisingly, behaved as if I was the hired help. She’d become frustrated if I didn’t drop was I was doing instantly, and began to nip me to force me to get up.
So, from that perspective, I’m not sure it’s such a good idea to teach your dog to make requests. I also think your point about whether it’s good for her is the most important aspect to consider. I’m not so sure it’s good for our own happiness to expect to get what we want when we want it. I am reminded of the people I’ve seen and met in Africa, who sit down by the side of the road if it’s impassable and contentedly wait, while the Americans and Europeans pace by the side of the road, look at their watches and pull out their hair.
Here’s one way you might try to go to the next level of training without the problems above. What if you had a signal, a “meta-communication” as it were (communication about communication) that meant: Requests Welcome and one that meant Not Available for Requests at the Moment. ??? I would think that could be taught relatively easily.. at least in theory!
Liz F. says
In regard to Trisha’s guest appearance—about people not pets:
I caught Larry’s show the 22nd and have been thinking, really admiring, how people can meet adversity with grace.
First, for Trisha continuing to be a voice on WPR in any way possible.
Maybe I’m out of line, but I imagine going on the show to be hard in some ways. Even though it may not have been all roses, the result is another opportunity for people to come into something that could change their lives/the lives of animals. And since nothing is completely selfless, what a great opportunity to look at an even slightly intimidating situation and say “You know what, I’m going to do it and be better for it.” That requires bravery, whether in the context of a career or in the rest of life.
Second, for pulling off that same professionalism and rapport that you and Larry had in the past, given a new place in life.
Third, for the caller asking for help and wanting to manage his anger towards his dogs. If deep breathing can help get soldiers through war, then it should be able to help everyone else, right? Walking away for a moment is a great suggestion, too. As someone who grew up with a really loud father- note to all parents- please don’t holler wildly at pets around your children, it leaves a sour taste and there are ways to deal that are much better for everyone.
Even though I was sure I would get over WPR’s decision w/ CAP, I was wrong. It was part of the package of the station, and now the package is just different. So I give Trisha lots of credit for finding a perspective that doesn’t allow her to be bothered too much. More than I can do, but I am a bit inspired here.
Pat G. says
Because of a crazy scheduel I haven’t been up on listening to WPR on the wknds. When I finally could to my dismay I couldn’t find “Calling All Pets” in it’s normal time slot. My computer was acting up so I couldn’t get to the website. Finally I got on to the site w/o my computer locking up on me only to find out my favorite WPR show has been cancelled! Please, please make the podcast a possibility! I really miss the great animal advice Patricia always gave, and told many people about the broadcasts and when to listen.