I finally get it!
On my morning walk with Axel, he was pulling on the lead to begin with, and I stopped, waited, and stopped and waited, and turned around and waited, and then I called him to ‘come’ and he did, and I gave him a treat, and we did a couple of ‘heels’ and he followed, and I gave him a treat (breakfast!) His walking improved, he was not pulling on the lead.
We did a bit more ‘come’ and ‘heel’ practise, and then things shifted into something else …. I talked, and moved, and he seemed to know what I wanted. We were in synch, in a Zen walk …. I finally get it. THAT is the level of communicating with my dog that I did not know was possible, but that I definitely want to work on.
Zen and the Art of Walking With My Dog. Brilliant!
I finally get it!
Not knowing I need to get it … not knowing ‘it’ existed!!!
I have worked, from the moment I adopted Axel, (a 2 year 5 month old Cairn Terrier), on building a relationship with him, a bond, a love and trust and respect. I did not even think of it leading to anything, just that he and I both needed that.
Of course, it was not going to be that smooth … Later, on the bike ride to work, a dog was crossing the road as we needed to bike across, and we reached the same spot at the same time. Axel got excited, started yelping and lost the plot! The other dog walked on, the lady ignoring us (and likely thinking I needed to get my dog under control!)
Another morning we were crossing the road and another dog appeared with its owner. I had been so focussed on the traffic that I had not looked across the road. Axel lost the plot, we turned around and went back, but I noticed that for the rest of his walk he was unresponsive to anything I asked him to do. He pulled constantly on the lead no matter how many times I stopped, stood still, called him to me … nothing worked. I was ready to give up, but had to accept that he had been unsettled and over-stimulated when he saw the other dog. My job is to always be looking ahead, to see what is coming and make a choice of direction or use a distraction.
Anyway … knowing that Zen walking exists, made me realise the connection I am looking to build. The art of communication extends beyond words, it is energy too. The words and energy can work together, or we can focus on only one. Focussing on words alone, however, without the energy, is inefficient communication, it is flawed, and lacking (in my opinion). When we are able to combine the words and the energy we reach a point where we no longer need the words, because our companion has learnt to comprehend our energy language.
It is also, of course, important (vital!) that we take time to learn their language! That we learn about calming signals, aggression signals, that we study and learn how to understand what is going on with them. Read! Research! Talk to dog trainers, talk to canine behaviourists, talk to animal healers. Learn. Learn. Learn. It is worth the effort because what you are working towards is the most amazing connection and communication with your dog. (Not just with your dog, for if you begin to apply this kind of study, you will find that it flows over into your human relationships also … you will find yourself reading your partner’s movements, body language, energy, and sensing what they are not saying, sensing those times when you need to go quiet and just give them all the love you have to give! … There are no areas of life when, if worked upon, do not flow over into other areas of life.)
We are barely even touching—let alone scratching—the surface of what animal communication can be.
My cat, Panther, is independent. He comes and goes as he pleases, but he does love hanging out with us all. Axel pretty much leaves him alone, and to Panther (I know) he appreciates this respect. (Don’t get me wrong, he has chased Panther when Panther ran, but we have learnt not to let them both out the door at the same time!) Panther will smooch all around Axel’s face, and dear sweet Axel is oblivious to the affection that is being expressed!
I don’t rush Axel with anything. I don’t pressure him to be perfect (no such thing!) If anything it is myself that I have pressured too much. Why have I not got this sorted, or that sorted, of this under control, or that under control? But now … I have learnt from Axel to be patient, to ‘cut myself some slack’.
The goal I am aiming for? To be so energetically in tune with Axel and Panther, that we each know what the other is expressing. A love and a respect so deep.
I share this journey with you in the hope that it may assist you too to find a beautiful relationship with your pets.