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Current blog look inspired by and dedicated to Chance, Blaze, Fiona and Zappa who all kicked ass against cancer and liver disease.

Brut Quote

Brut Quote

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Listening to the dogs

When I listen and pay attention to the dogs and what they are really trying to tell me, I find that I become more flexible and understanding of their needs. I've found (through trial and error) that when I try to do things that I need to do with the dogs and it is more than they are ready to handle, I end up frustrated. I'm learning to back off and let our dogs be who they are with their unique individual qualities and gifts. Which means they also have their own set of individuals struggles that are unique to their situations. I'm trying to give them the space to grow and mature and try to help them by testing their readiness. It saves a lot of heartache. I am gaining experience. I have been learning this as I go along. Learning about the dogs behaviors, their temperaments, their tolerances, their likes and dislikes. How they function alone and when they are paired, or as a whole group and how to respond to those differences. Simple things like brushing to the more complex situation of Brut and Zappa all depend on my listening to my dogs.

For months the dogs were going through their spring molt (shedding summer/winter coats) and I had hair every where. Chance and Fiona would both run and hide if I had the brush in my hand, even with treats. Chance had been hit with objects by his former owner and the brush was another object. Fiona was shy and timid about everything new and she didn't like the brush. They are the white dogs and since I never owned a white dog, it never occurred to me that their skin was more sensitive than the others. I kept trying to brush them, not listening to what they were telling about the brush and the their readiness for it. A light bulb went off and I tried a different brushing tool, a shedding blade. It was gentler and easier on them, I stopped when they'd had enough, and they were rewarded with a treat. I kept testing the water every so often with soft bristle brush, they both accepted that. Now today Chance will sit and let me brush him with the wire brush with no problem. Fiona I'm able to use a soft plastic brush and that seems acceptable to her.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm learning not to rush things. I would read about how to approach a problem, like with the brushing, and think they should have it down after the first time with no problem. I will just do it, they will accept and we'll never have another problem with this again. I was always disappointed. I didn't start to understand the time that some things take and the level of emotional and mental maturity to be able to handle certain situations. It's the dogs that got my attention to make me realize I was trying to hard and not listening to what they were trying to tell me. I had no awareness of what happened to Chance before he came back.  When I would come to him with an object that was going to touch him, he would freak out and scream. Or that the brush was too painful on Fiona's skin to enjoy being brushed. I kept trying to do it on my agenda using the same tools I'd always used. It wasn't working. They let me know every time, over and over until it finally dawned on me to try something different and that began a snowballing of ideas and opening my mind to other possibilities with all the dogs and their different situations. It has paid off.  It is simply amazing how much they really let me know when I stop and listen and try to understand and bond in this amazing relationship between woman and beast. It is nothing short of awe being able to communicate with unspoken words and relate with these four-legged creatures in ways that are unimaginable.

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