Yesterday, I spent the afternoon helping the Keizer Parks foundation raise money for their new dog park. Next weekend, I’m raising money for Project Pooch. People show up and spend $5-10 to talk with their pet for 5-10 minutes, and all proceeds go to the nonprofit.
I like events like this because it allows me to talk with many dogs for a very short amount of time, and enact a little bit of positive change in a lot of lives.
So, yesterday was mostly good. Lots of lovely dogs, mostly of the terrier variety. I saw one of my favorite dogs, Gabby, who requested more time down by the river to hang with the ducks.
And then my heart broke a little.
A young woman walked up with a dog whose name we will change to protect the innocent. Let’s call her Sukie. She was a sweet dog. She looked like a mix between Cairn terrier and a scottie.
“My mom wants to know why her dog is so vindictive and annoying.”
It’s like somebody asking, “Why is my toddler such an asshole?”
So, I talked with this dog, whose attitude was slightly cool and quiet.
“I’m not vindictive,” she said. “I just don’t see why I have to give in all the time. It’s not like she actually cares about me.”
Those of us who have dogs and who have relationships with our dogs, where we actually see them as friends, we’re the lucky ones. Our dogs are lucky. We’re lucky. Not everybody knows how to do that. They see people with great dogs and they just assume that the people got a great dog, and here they are, stuck with this dog that acts like a jerk.
That’s not how it is at all. This little terrier is a perfectly acceptable, decent and friendly dog. Her owner just didn’t know how to have a relationship with her. That’s sad for everybody involved.
It would be so easy for me to see this as a character flaw on the part of the owner. But really, it’s just somebody who doesn’t know how to have a relationship. That’s somebody who needs help, not judgment (as much as I like to judge people. I am human, after all).
Fixing This Problem
I recommended a book to Sukie’s owner. It’s called “Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening our Relationship with Dogs” . Suzanne Clothier writes beautifully about how to have a positive relationship with your dog.
If your relationship comes naturally, if you have an easy, awesome wonderful appreciation for your dog, you are lucky. Your dog is lucky. I am lucky to know you.
If yours doesn’t, you’re in luck, because Suzanne lays it out beautifully in this book. For $10, you can learn how.
And if you need more than that, consider a session with me. I can help you understand your dog.
Remember, it’s up to you to have that good relationship. What can you do today to deepen it?