Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of bonding with my new dog Molly.
It began with having to discipline her for her “fear biting.” Of course, I recognized that she had been abused a couple years back in a puppy mill, and she had reasons to be fearful. But she had to get beyond it because of young children in the family that could be needlessly bitten. She had nipped and threatened to bite.
As my wife and I began training her and attempting to convince the rest of the family that Molly was less of a threat, we brought in a second dog whisperer. Gina had a different approach than the first dog whisperer. She talked to Molly, and after a few minutes exclaimed, “I’ve talked to Molly and she’s okay. She’s totally okay. It’s you two that are neurotic. Not her.” We had a big laugh at ourselves and asked Gina for some insights.
As we talked, I realized that Molly’s intuition and precognition of what was about to happen was a big part of the problem. For example, when I had “simply decided” that I was going to give her a bath, she promptly hid under the bed. Later, when I came to enforce her bath time, she bit me.
But worse than the bite, I was frustrated that she hid before I could bring her the bad news. She smartly pre-empted me. Gina’s response was very much from the canine perspective. “Since she knows beforehand, just tell her, ‘Molly, you’re freaking me out!’ She’ll understand and respond.”
The time my wife and I spent with Gina was not about getting the dog to understand that we are “Alpha.” It was realizing that Molly is as smart as we are and she deserves to be treated like that.
Since then, things with Molly are much improved. For example, I bought the kind of leash that extends, allowing her to run and be a dog, instead of the short leash that requires her to march to my tune. Our walks are not a tussle for who will do the leader, but a pleasure walk; me at my speed and her at hers. Bonding is so much easier when there is more pleasure and mutual respect.
And now that my wife and I are less neurotic about being “Alpha,” the grandchildren have warmed to Molly and play with her not as a doll but as a family member.
Bonding to Life can be much like bonding to Life’s creatures. Human beings in the Western, industrialized world come to Life with an eye to mastering it. The whole idea makes me laugh. How can we, the creations of Life delude ourselves into thinking that we can master Life?
Within the above time frame of bonding to Molly, my wife picked out a book while browsing the local Barnes and Noble bookstore. The book is “Animal Wisdom.” Written by Veterinarian Linda Bender, she speaks about the wisdom animals bring to us if we will listen. She is respectful of and humbled by the evidence of intelligent and capable creatures, beings that can make our lives more meaningful, connected, healthy, joyful and responsive to Life.
Of course, dog and cat owners can readily understand this kind of mutual care and broader sense of belonging. And the joy brought by animals may be easily witnessed on Facebook, with the many postings of cute dogs and wise cats, protecting us during a time of decreased human to human contact.
I’m not suggesting we all get a pet, but to realize that Life reaches out to us in so many ways and requests our humility, respect and full engagement. When you get a chance, gratefully eyeball a goldfish, stroke a friendly dog or cat wandering outside. Read more about these amazing creatures or read some snippets of “Animal Wisdom” using the “Look inside” feature at Amazon.com. Or go to Barnes and Noble.
Peruse cat or dog books. Share pictures of pets. Celebrate Life by listening to the love, playfulness, wisdom, intelligence, persistence, healing kindness and ability to relate between species that animals bring to our vision of Life’s possibilities.
There is no denying that animals help us heal, take joy in Life and lower blood pressure. Do yourself a Life-giving favor. Don’t waste a minute more. “Reach out” and learn about animals. There is nothing more important than connecting with Life.
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