Certified dog training and behavior solutions in North Georgia.

A Jack Russell Terrier calmly settled. Isn’t she beautiful?

Smart cookies

A black nose pokes into my home office door followed by big, charcoal blue ears over liquid brown eyes. Belle steps halfway into the room, cocks her head, and softly whimpers. She knows I can’t resist her charm. “Uh huh,” I mumble, “it’s past time for bed. Just need to finish this one . . . .” She wags her charcoal blue nubbin of a tail and stares at me, melting my resolve. Maybe that one thing can wait until morning. She sweetly cocks her head again. That’s it, I’m done.

My dog reminding me to go to bed when I stay up too late is a side effect from positive reinforcement training and has now been reinforced as a desirable behavior itself. This happy accident began with a frustrating situation . . . .

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Communication gap

A rock solid belief of mine was broken along with my heart a few months ago. Though the experience centered around dog training, I only spoke about the details to my most intimate friend and kept to myself how it continued to affect me emotionally and physically. I thought posting about it publicly would cost me clients, who would reject me in disgust for being too soft and sensitive and not agreeing to the tenets of our anthropocentric domination culture. But then I thought price-shoppers will never read this. My services are most useful to those who will at least entertain the idea that dogs are thinking, feeling beings whose bodies and brains are not ours to own, but to form conscious partnerships with for mutual benefit.

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Another lesson in grief

Allowing myself to grieve for Perry, who died a few months ago, allowed me to begin healing from the loss. Acceptance and a certain amount of ritualized farewell made it possible for me to gradually let go and let the grief ebb and flow as it naturally does. This allowing offered a much different experience than that of losing beautiful Stella two years before.

I couldn’t think of Stella without feeling like my chest was going to cave in. Saying her name brought tears, so I avoided saying it. I could tell a funny story about Perry and feel honored to have known the challenging little dude. Avoiding memories of Stella was not honoring the vivacious, resilient sprite I adored. It was clear that I could not begin healing and celebrating the life that was because I would not begin. I was holding onto an illusion that there was something to hold onto. Ah, Grief, how I hate to have this dance with you . . . .

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