Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The 10 Lessons I've Learned (or re-learned) By Living With a Dog

1. There's more to the world than meets the eye.

Yes ... we mustn't forget what meets the nose ... the ears ... the skin ... the tongue. Of course, there are things that meet Freddie's tongue that I hope will never meet mine (like the goose poop he scarfed this morning and later puked up); still, it's good to remember that everything in these photographic scenes we can now only see has a smell, a sound, a texture, a taste.


2. Positive reinforcement works.

I need to keep reminding myself of this, not just in my work with Freddie, but also at Langara. Granted, sometimes a NO is necessary; sometimes the only fair grade is an F. But the more often I can find/create opportunities to say "Yes! Well done!" the faster the learning happens. 

Here, Freddie — have a treat!

3. We are all animals.

Freddie's presence in our home, the diminished social/psychological gap between "human" and "dog," makes me more attentive to other creatures and their equal right to enjoy the bigger spaces that we share.

I believe it was Freddie who disturbed the ducks above. Their pond was mostly frozen, and they'd gathered in a small patch of liquid near the edge. Much more work needed on "Leave it!" :-(

Kind of a grumpy rendering, but a similar idea ...

4. Work, play, eat, rest.

A good balance. In whatever order.

Freddie is working here. His heel position isn't perfect, but he's watching leaves blow by without lungeing at them. My Langara sweats remind me that I do have a regular job!

 Men at Work
 Local eatery
Chasing leaves ... what else?

Airedale Kaia enjoying a stick

Labradoodle Freddie enjoying a chicken

5. Communication doesn't need words (or technology*).

Sure, Freddie understands some words, but they're not how he understands his world. For a wordy type like me, this is a useful thing to think about.

*More on this in our next post!

6. Now is a good place to be.

Not necessarily all the time. Reminiscing about the past ... anticipating the future ... these are fine things to do. But if, like Freddie, I manage (or at least try) to keep my mind in the present — on the tree stump that's in front of me right now — I believe I will be happier for it.


7. Talking to strangers is good.

Lots of them. All different breeds. The chances of my being abducted by a stranger on Kits Beach, or most other places, are slim enough that I think this is a worthwhile risk. I've even taken candy from one or two of them, and so far the consequences have been entirely positive.

Here's Airedale Kaia's human, with whom I had a long chat this morning. She went to Langara several years ago and had a great experience there.

8. Explore the world ... but respect the other guy's turf (and invite him/her onto yours). 

The only limitations on Freddie's exploration are the rules I impose (with varying degrees of effectiveness) and his own occasional fears. "Turf" vs. "Private Property" — I think there's a difference. I've whinged about the latter, but I do believe that native habitats, ancestral grounds, homes that have been cared for over time deserve not to be heedlessly trampled upon.

9. There's no such thing as bad weather.

Just cold, hot, rainy, foggy, sunny, blustery, warm, misty etc. etc. etc. 

Winter Barbeque - Tea Party - Outdoor Luncheon à la provençale

10. Stick with your pack.

Numbers 7 and 8 notwithstanding, Freddie always comes back to us ... and, I'm sure, is happy for doing so.

Have a doggy-ducky day!


  1. Oohhhh, looking forward to "communication doesn't always need words". Nice foreshadowing, Heather!

  2. Thanks for the right words at the right time. I needed that!

    1. And thanks so much for letting me know! Hope you're having a great day. :)

  3. So many good points! I like "There is no such thing as bad weather". I remember I once heard an addition to that statement that said "There is only bad outdoor gear", or something like that. "Now is a good place to be" is also something to live by. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Thanks, Mark! Your inaugural blog post is wonderful. Any more in the works?

  4. always inspiring. I've learned that things are more temporal - don't take things too seriously for very long...there's always something better to sniff, chew, see, hear, or investigate... :) But isn't that blogging?! :)


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