Saturday, November 12, 2016

happy birthday, zane grey (5 years of learning and unlearning)

today is zane's 5th birthday.  i'm grateful for the time we've had together so far and selfishly wish for many more years of his companionship.  he's not an easy dog.  he sometimes gets labeled as "crazy" (i'm guilty of calling him "nuts" on occasion) but it's not really accurate and it isn't constructive.  there is a definite wildness within him that is, for better or for worse, sometimes irrepressible.  at its worst it can manifest as fearful reactivity and at its best it is the most amazing and delightful exuberance i've ever seen expressed.  
my gift to zane this year is to be more diligent in helping him through the fearful times.  i've done a lot of reading about canine behavior and positive reinforcement training techniques (mostly clicker training) and have used those techniques with zane since the day i brought him home.  i think all of it has helped zane to get along better in our strange human world.  it has helped me to be more open to his communications and made for a good bond between us.  along with everything i've learned i've also done a lot of unlearning of conventional training techniques and of the conventional/mainstream cultural beliefs of what dogs are and how they are to be treated.  as i've let go of what our culture has told me i've been more able to understand and act on what i've always felt in my heart.  i can see and treat dogs and other nonhuman animals as fellow beings who are very different than humans in many ways but in no way less deserving of the kindness, respect, and understanding that we (hopefully) try to cultivate in our human to human relationships. sometimes i fall short of the mark but i'm still learning and unlearning and trying.

some new books for zane

so, zane, here's my birthday promise to you...
i'll try my hardest to be the human you deserve and to help you through the scary, confusing, and frustrating times.  i'll try to listen to and understand what you are telling me.  i'll try to give you the same loving and devoted companionship that you give to me.  and i'll try to make it all as much fun as i can.  happy birthday, zane grey.