Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The dog who changed my life - a German shepherd husky

From October 17, 2010 to May 15, 1011,  I took care of a female, 1 year old German shepherd/husky, adopted from the shelter, having been found running around a nearby mountain. Her name was Skye. She was to be outside only dog, with company of 2 others. One is a rat terrier who had taken to wander the country neighborhood and was quite territorial around the house, to say the least, the other a deaf adopted dog with some issues. The adventure started as a job I had accepted. Little did I know it was to change my life, or - better said, change me. Even at the time I kept having the sense and visual of walking through a long tunnel with her. At some point towards the end there was an acute awareness of possible futures. My heart got broken open over and over. I know I am different. There was a leveling up and integrating on a feeling level with the rest of  "it" - and I am seeing people and things with a clarity that is mostly humbling, and more compassionate. At the time of this writing, she's been gone to a new home for 4 months,  which seems so much longer, and still  the tears come every day. I look at it as having fostered her and I know she got a good foundation to be where is is now. She had the key to a door in my heart, and my very self, and I stepped through. There is something about dogs in relation to humans which is amazing. However, you don't just get it for free - you must give of yourself, allow yourself to get engaged and connected, awed and humbled ....
You can read more about my experiences with her here.
...or scroll to the end.
There is another aspect to this which opened me to the plight of dogs everywhere and call for action. Please go to Helping K9s to find out more.
This blog is about exploring  Natural Dog Training.

Having been a novice in dog training and faced with the somewhat challenging situation, I did quickly look for help and also turned to the internet.  Here I came across a lot of dog-training tips and philosophies, though at the time, it seemed a big mish-mash of various camps. Still, some of it was helpful, and I applied some of the methods I read about..
I also quickly discovered that I could not train this dog apart from the other 2 on the property. And I will forever remember the effect of  "non-dog people" and their assumptions, fears and agendas on the training of 1 dog, or, in this case, a group of dogs.

In the course of trying to do this beautiful being justice, I observed her a lot, I spent many hours with her, even in the freezing cold or pouring rain, walking together, first only on leash, then off, and after 2 months later joined by the both the others (there were some aggressions issues to be overcome, as our terrier really wanted nothing to do with her, until they became best buddies), waiting with her to finish digging, and I wish I had found the Natural Dog Training sites in the beginning, rather than just now.

Skye was not driven by food, initially avoided petting most of the time and was without desire to please, something else made her tick. She stalked like a cat and I could not hold her when she went after squirrels and caught me by surprise. Everyone was saying to not play tug of war for fear of aggression issues, or it least it seemed to be something one had to have experience to use. I ended up doing it did anyway and it was a good thing, I should have done it from the start more often and with a certain purpose - and I regret  that I did not let her win every time. But more on that later.

I am still trying to make sense of some of the things I observed as well as finding a training described which accommodates my observations - and just maybe I found it: Natural Dog Training.

A little after the fact for beloved Skye, however, at some point, there will be another dog in my life, a German shepherd most likely, and this time, I want to be more prepared. This blog is about exploring and investigating various ways of dog training, and sometimes simply ways of being with your dog. I am currently enrolled in the Animal Behavior College dog training program, and I am reading Adam's Task, Calling Animals by Name  - by Vicki Hearne. I initially read 2 books by Cesar Milan, and just ordered Your Dog is Your Mirror, by Kevin Behan.

I will be exploring the world of dogs and dog training in months and years to come, reporting as time permits.
Please check out the links provided. I am not closed to an particular dog training method. It is about the dog and you, your connection and what works for you and your dog(s) and in your life. You must be able to understand and be able to implement what you hear. There is way too much bashing going on. Out of balance dogs can cause a lot of damage and anyone who takes in totally aggressive dogs on death row and is able and willing to rehabilitate them and even able to place them into homes deserves some respect in my eyes.  Just one thing for sure: don't allow your dog to be the equivalent of a spoiled brat - it could kill him...and any of the methods I have read about are better than no training at all. When there is a problem: ASK FOR HELP right away, don't wait!

That said, I am glad I have come across the natural dog training sites and methods, as they ring true and seem compatible what I sensed and observed in working with Skye.

In the meantime, here is a taste of what she meant and still means for me:

About Skye, from my facebook album What is Art:

♥ She IS Art - sculpted and painted by nature and imbued with a big spirit by creation itself.
She IS Art - no point really trying to describe it - she is a delight to behold....beautiful, present, playful, regal, happy, alert, with such elegance in movement, with determination & focus, loyalty in doing her job - independent yet open to adjustment & contact - slowly giving her trust and turning into a love bug.
She raises your spirits with her magnificent presence just being who she is from her essence...a transmitter of divine vibration.
Maybe there are other dogs like this - maybe there is one such special dog for everyone that can have such an effect on someone. maybe I was just ready to see, maybe she really is that special, maybe it was reawakening past live connection. Who knows...
...wish you could have seen her fly through the meadow, studying a situation, try to play with a cow, or teach stormy how to play or wag her tail or....
May you be blessed with an encounter such as this so when you hear someone say "it's just a dog" or "just a drum" or "just a promise" or "just a weed" - you know that they "just don't understand". not yet anyway...you've got to be open to the magic, willing to go through the portal into a different world, be amazed, accept what you find there, give it your full attention...allow your heart to be broken once again....humbled, still and awed - and be changed - ART. - but really: LOVE

I am her - not separate - in the deepest heart of hearts. In essence, she will go with me to any manifest world. I had always known her and I always will. There is no time (there), where I am her.

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