Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fall in Love All Over Again

Stunning fall weather of late must be the reward for us Clevelanders -- between the Cleveland Browns' depressing record coupled with fuzzy memories of a rather cool and vaguely dissatisfying summer, we are getting our just desserts. Before the inevitable wind blows all the color enriched flora into a decomposing swirl, baring the trees in preparation for, gasp, winter, I'm carving out time with the dogs enjoying crunch crunch walks. The panoply of colors sent my mind into a fantasy mindset the result of which is:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Savor the season

Warmer more typical Indian Summer sunshine during what appears to be peak week for the fall foliage of NE Ohio was welcomed today. It reminded me of the need to get out from under deadlines and dust bunnies and To Do Lists and take time to savor the season.

When you have a dog who is reliable off a leash, watching your dog(s) run amok among the crunching leaves, dance in the shadows and grin with canine delight is a visual reminder of how simple joy -- so easily lost in the adult world of looming bills, time lines and responsibilities -- can soothe the soul.

Take breaks, enjoy the season, and keep practicing basic cues -- touch (come), sit, down, stay, go -- and off leash wood walks (or beach or grassy knolls) can fix a lot of your boo boos too!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Positively Positivist AKA I'm with you Dr. Dunbar

The brain waves that are set to spinning in my head when I put words to paper or electronics in various forms -- blog versus articles versus tweaking drafts of my book-in-progress versus the voluminous emails I generate daily [not to mention the efforts of this middle aged multi tasking mom to twit, use facebook and explore other cutting edge cyberspace warrens vary in style but always stay true to my core sensibilities.

Most hours every day I am actively and passively engrossed in my vocation of sharing a knowledge base, methodology and useful tools with clients who engage my services. Whether private or group classes; companion or working dog -- the intention is to communicate the path towards benevolent leadership.

A person of authority is calm, consistent, firm, confident and compassionate. Professional assistance can quickly and very dramatically change dynamics by developing a proactive approach to the process as opposed to stuck patterns of reactivity.

If you are tentative, hesitant, punitive, or vacillating, these mixed messages create anxiety and you can no longer be trusted to lead. Authority is leadership, not force. Dogs want leadership; dogs naturally gravitate to leaders, even if their past included lots of ambivalence. Leaders can be adults and children; those who seem to know what they're doing. Dogs want someone to guide them while at the same time allow them to make mistakes and learn. A benevolent leader understands that ebb and flow and continues and shows patience and awareness while remaining mindful of safety -- safety of people, safety of other animals, safety of dog and safety of "stuff". Not all are natural born leaders, but motivated people can learn to be great dog owners.

We get bombarded through all forms of media about The Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan (as opposed to The Dog Whisperer Paul Owens). In each episode we see this disclaimer:

A dog training show on TV should scream TRY THIS AT HOME without fear that anyone or anything will get hurt. The positive trainers out there who are more well known than I (better marketing teams; usually no children underfoot!) need to take a stronger more active stance.

Last Sunday, Oct. 11, The Sunday New York Times had a cover article in the business section that inspired me to write an article for examiner.com. Please read it, comment on it, and take action.

I cannot believe how little my dog trainer peers have voiced complaint. How is it a top ranking and very benevolent and prolific guru, Dr. Ian Dunbar, can generate only one poorly worded paragraph on a whole realm of dog training? How is it that Millan charmed the reporter into dismissing positive training in one nonsensical sentence and then continue kvelling about his dominance / submission / exhaustion message being sent to dog owners around the world? I really want to know.