This is the first time in many years that I have spent 2 full weeks away from my dogs. They are in good hands (thank you Rachel!) and there is no reason to worry about things back home. It has been fun sending messages back and forth to our dog-sitter and hearing tales of our dogs and their adventures. But it is the little things I miss.
Training our dogs with behavioural science and positive reinforcement has created a bond that goes beyond simple stimulus-response behaviour patterns – I say “sit” and the dog sits; I say “wait” and the dog waits. They have personalities of their own now. So I miss their mannerisms, quirks, and even the little conversations we have.
If you had asked me many years ago if I thought dogs could be creative, I would have said “No” without reservation. It was all I could do back in those days to just keep my dogs from misbehaving. It would never have occurred to me that I might miss that careful stare from across the room that Rizzo uses to tell me he needs to go out or the playful dinner time games Tiramisu plays to get us to feed her. Even the hotel beds feel empty without the lazy repositioning of dog bodies in the night.
I am continually amazed at the benefits of using a behavioural approach to working with our dogs instead of using all the force and punishment we used to use to “keep them in line” and manage behaviour.. Many of the problems we used to have (e.g., chewing things up, barking, pacing, etc.) just don’t happen any more because we are proactive in teaching our dogs before these things develop. But the unexpected joy has been watching our dogs express themselves. From the contented sighs to the playful bows to the slow affectionate licks, learning to listen to our dogs as much as we teach them has been the best thing of all.
Don’t take your dogs for granted. They are with us for such a short time. Enjoy who they are.
We miss you Rizzo and Tira! We will see you soon!