A dear friend has been staying with us for the last three months. It’s been an intensive and stress-free place for her business to re-find her bliss. It’s been a reality check on my ideas and an excellent opportunity to re-explore intimate female friendships.
I’ve taken to calling her The Dog Whisperette. (Hey, have you got a better idea for the female version of Whisperer?) As a fellow dog lover, she has always preferred rescue dogs — of the medium to large variety. So our two ankle biters were a massive change for her.
Early on, I noticed her trying to get the two dogs to follow her commands. I thought she was treating for funsies; it turns out she was treating for discipline.
My friend has the patience of a saint and has moved them from
- being noisy to quiet
- sometimes not paying attention to always being attentive
- lunging at the front door to quietly and patiently allowing all to enter
- constantly pulling on the leash to walking side by side calmly
When we got our first dog, we did EVERYTHING by the book and, of course, made sure he excelled at puppy and dog training. We learned very early on that his life AND behaviour had everything to do with what WE did to and for him. So, like all good parents, our first was raised strictly, with very high expectations.
Naturally, our standards slipped as we introduced more dogs into the family. When we got to puppy six or seven, we decided we could leave them in the care of the rest of the dogs because the others would show them what they needed.
Whether you love dogs (or kittens) or not, whether you love kids or not, or even have some of each of your own, I know you can see the similarities between raising dogs, kittens and kids. We ALL go through the same kinds of iterations from eldest to youngest.
Today, Gerry and I are the proud parents of two well-behaved small dogs. And our biggest job is to stay out of the trap of playing the lazy, stupid human roles again.
As I’ve watched my friend, I see so many lessons we can all use in our lives.
- Calm and quiet always trumps excited and exuberant. Every. Single. Time.
- Praise is a beautiful thing to give AND to receive.
- Patience (especially the human kind) is hugely undervalued.
- Talking reinforces the connection and strengthens the bonds.
- Treats, hugs and kisses do not spoil anyone or anything. (They go a long way to repairing both parties’ silly mistakes and reinforcing the good behaviours we crave.)
All of which made me wonder.
Why do we treat our pets better than our spouses, kids, employees, colleagues, bosses and neighbours?
This is not a rhetorical question. We DO treat our fur critters better than our fellow humans.
Is that because they have shorter lives, give love unconditionally, maybe their sense of time is always about now, and perhaps because they have unbridled enthusiasm for living, greeting and enjoying?
I suspect the real reason will vary with each person. I only ask you to consider something.
What if we treated all our fellow humans exactly like our fur critters? Would that not help make the world a happier place?