Sunday, February 21, 2010

Living In the Moment

Living In The Moment

There is no better teacher than a animal to show you how to live your life meaningfully and on purpose and in the moment.
As many of you know I live with 6 Golden Retrievers,3 cats, 3 kids and a patient husband. I know a lot about losing animals and saying goodbye. I have had animals that died at home, I have had animals that died in veterinary hospitals. I have been fortunate to have animals that lived to be 23 and ones that died too young at barely 9 yrs old. Recently we lost our 12 yr old cat Jazz. She was a special cat and a wonderful companion to me and I miss her. She taught me something that I hadn’t learned before even with all the other losses I’ve had. This little cat taught me gratitude. How weird to have not figured that one out by now, to have lived with animals as long as I have and to still be learning from them like it’s my first time. But there is beauty in that too.

I probably don’t have to tell you how devastating it is to lose an animal, how sad and empty it is to move on without them. That is a familiar feeling and one that I can share with many a fellow animal lover who loses a dear friend.

Just before losing Jazz, I began to consider things from a different perspective. I began to look at letting go in terms of gratitude for what has been, instead of grief over what has been lost. Who am I that this beautiful creature would share her life with me and adore me without question.

I owed it to her loyalty to consider this from a perspective of gratitude rather than grief …..

I am grateful for the times that she climbed on the back of my chair when I worked too long at the computer and head butted me until I paid attention to her.
I am grateful for the one black paw that rose from under my desk to tap my arm if the head butt trick didn’t work.

I’m grateful that she would come when I called her and sit with me for hours.

I’m grateful for her vigil over me in the minutes before I fell asleep and in the first few minutes I greeted a new day.

I’m grateful for her welcoming every new animal that came into our house, including the evil little puppies that chased her on occasion.

I’m grateful for her sense of humor when the vet showed up to examine the puppies and her insistence that it was all about her.

I’m grateful that she was a leader at our house, keeping her cat chums in line and making sure newcomers fit into the fold.

I’m grateful to have had a cat that loved children and would let them carry her around even though she often preferred they didn’t.

I’m grateful for the comfort that she brought me after long days or disappointment

A little cat, barely 10lbs of fur taught me this…… of all the humans in the world she could have come to she came to me.

As I look around I see the other teachers watching me, waiting for me to be ready to hear what they have to say. Will I learn from them now while we share this time on earth or will I be dense and not get it until they are gone. My goal this year is to take more time to listen, to live in the moment and not be in such a hurry to nowhere. If you break apart the nowhere you come up with now here and maybe this is the destiny I was meant to seek.

I hope that you take the time to enjoy your animal companions, be they dogs, cats, horses, birds or ferrets. No matter the species they are gifts that reflect back to us what we already know if we would only take the time to live as they do, in the moment. I hope that as Valentines Day approaches and you make plans to celebrate the love you have or lament about the love you’ve lost you consider what is already here and appreciate the gift it is.

Hug your dog for all that he represents and for all that he is here to remind you of…of all the humans in the world he is here with you !

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cold Weather Workout For Dogs

Having trouble keeping your dog entertained this winter ? Too cold to stand outside for long periods of time tossing a ball ? Here's a game that any dog can learn to play.....Hide the Toy (or cookie or ball etc).

1. Find a toy that your dog really likes to play with or one that has a pocket inside that you can put a treat in.
2. Tease your dog with the toy and get him excited about it.
3. Tether him to a piece of furniture or have someone hold his collar and hide the toy in an obvious place.
4. Hold him back so that he is eager to find it and release him.
5. When he find the toy, act excited and pop the treat out and give it to him.
Congratulations....your dog made his first find !

Once your dog is on to the game make the hiding places more challenging, behind the couch, on the seat of a chair, behind the door, on a window ledge, etc. Gradually increasing the difficulty until your dog really good at it. Once you have reached a level of proficiency where he is finding it easily go ahead and label the search behaviors " find it" and encourage him to look for it.

This is a great indoor game for cold winter days when the weather outside is just too frightful to stand out in.

Have fun !

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Shelter Visit

Went to the shelter today on my way to teach a training class. Always an "experience" for me. There were alot of cats, many older ones in need of a good home. The shelter is impressive and very modern, with real life rooms and lots of cubbies for the animals to sleep in and ladders to climb. They had a few kittens which were well attended but my heart ached for some of the old guys who just wanted to be owned by someone.

The dogs were plentiful too. Many highly aroused and worried with all the people peeking at them. The one that broke my heart was a pitbull mix who had lost her home because she played too roughly with the other dog she lived with. She was curled up in a ball and I couldn't help thinking if she wondered how she got here and where her family had gone. Sad, sad, sad....
Then there was the elderly dachshund whose housemate had been adopted and was left behind. What must she be thinking ???

Must be in a sensitive mood today, but I don't and can't walk through the shelter for this very reason. Even though some of the stories end happily I understand dogs too much to ignore what is being said in their eyes.........

Teaching Fetch !!

Had a brillant idea today. Trying to teach a puppy in one of my Puppy Headstart Workshops how to bring back the toy to them when her people throw it.
Taught her how to 'target' my hand with her nose for clicks and treats at first. Then got her running by throwing the treat after I clicked her for touching her nose to the palm of my hand. Labeled the nose to hand "touch".
Added the toy to the mix and asked for "touch" with toy in her mouth. It took a bit of trial and error on her part but eventually she smacked the toy into my palm for a click and toss of the toy.
They now have a thinking dog that brings the toy all the way girl !