Its deeper than you think, its a way of life
I sat here for a while typing a few minutes ago, all about alpha wolfs and how we greet our dogs, but then I realized its deeper than that. For me in my life there are few things deeper than the relationship I have with my dogs. Maybe it is because they have all been difficult or challenging in one way or another, maybe it is the amount of time I spend with them, either way I cannot deny the depth I feel inside. In this crazy world we live in often times we find ourselves trapped in thought, trying to escape from the bonds of being human. I was rescued from that trap, and have been guided along the way by my closest companions, my dog pack.
It's one thing to have a dog and to spend some time with it, it is another thing to share our world with them. I guess I never realized it until I had it, and how proud of myself I was until I realized it. I wanted a connection to my dogs that was so deep, nothing could break it, and nothing was in between us. I wanted a dog that I could take anywhere and know, that we would go together and leave together and be together all the while. Not just physically, but energetically as well. It's a feeling that few people will ever know, to run or walk or hike or bike, and know that your dog will follow you no matter what. The more as time went on it didn't even seem to me like a big deal, a pair of dogs that never needed leashes, or collars, or even a fence around the yard to keep them home, all that was needed is our connection.
In the past when I saw a person who had a dog that followed them around I thought to myself; "wow they must have just got a really good dog", in time I found I was mostly wrong. At the end of the day, behind every great dog, there is usually a great human. There is usually someone like myself, who took the time to cultivate a deep connection. In some cases a connection that defies social conventions and words all together. In my case, that is still how it is for us today. The bond I have with my dogs is deep, probably more deep than most people can understand. The things we have been through are one thing, but the extremes of our relationship is another.
Do I love my dogs? Of course I do, but what does that mean exactly? Well it means being brutally honest at all times and allowing my dogs to be brutally honest with me. If what I am doing to guide my dogs behavior does not work, my dogs are brutally honest about it. If what my dogs are doing does not work, I am brutally honest about that as well. What it has become is a beautiful dance. It has become a conversation that has now spanned 8 years and 2 generations of dogs, and I hope it doesn't stop there. I hope that as time goes on and my dogs grow old we continue to teach eachother, and we continue to deepen our connection.
This is often something that I think people struggle with the most; having an honest conversation with the dogs. In a world where we are constantly guided by social convention and common courtesy, it is hard sometimes to let that all go when it comes to our animals. I have clients who tell me how incredibly frustrated they are with their dogs, and yet I don't think they have ever told their dog this. I have never met a person who had trouble telling their dog how much they love certain things the dog does, but many struggle telling them what they don't love. The truth is, it is difficult for us to let go of our human-pack culture and to step into dog-pack culture.
In the end, if we are going to get that deep connection we want to have with our dogs, we are going to have to start letting go of some human conventions. We are going to need to start getting close enough to our dog to learn dog conventions. We are going to have to watch them and they way they relate, and always ask ourself, "are we speaking dog, or human, to our dog". Often times we will find that we are acting towards our dog in a way that is more a kin to how people treat eachother, and not how dogs treat eachother. I am not saying we should go stick our nose in our dogs butt, or bite them if we don't like what they are doing, but I am saying we need to deeply question what we are doing, especially if it isn't working. I will end with a very short story.
I was at the pool the other day with a few friends and their dogs,one of whom was a bit shy around certain dogs. None of the dogs posed any threat to her whatsoever or harassed her, yet she stayed away from all of them next to the gate. After a short while, her owner said, "I need to take Pippy back to the house she doesn't like it here", and so she took the dog home and walked back without her. In my eyes, she was speaking human to her dog, treating her dog like a friend who didn't get along with the strangers at a party and was asking for a ride home. In human language she was being considerate, in dog language she was being subordinate and reinforcing her dogs irrational fear of other dogs. If it was me I would have done nothing, or even I would have done the opposite. Possibly I would have even played with the "new" dogs or given them attention to show my dog that her assessment of the situation was wrong. I may have even just ignored my dog all together, to let her know that I was confident in the energy we should be carrying here, and that I would not follow her nervous lead. I know it sounds strange to hear at first, but sometimes we need to ask ourself, "is this how I would react to or treat a fellow human being?" If the answer is yes, and we are still struggling, then the path to success becomes that much more clear.