A dog will teach you unconditional love. If you can have that in your life, things won’t be too bad – Robert Wagner
There’s this underlying bond that we have with our dogs. If you’ve been able to gain both their love and respect then you know what I’m talking about. There’s this energy, this connection that you have. It’s hard to explain. It’s not something you can describe with words. It’s felt and it’s seen. There’s something so pure about this relationship. In a world where lots of relationships are built out of what can you do for me?, there’s your four legged best friend saying what can we do together?. There’s no wondering if they actually like you, there’s no waiting for a fault to show up in the relationship, it simply is what it is. And the best part? There’s no grudges held.
Porter and I have had our fair share of battles. He has some major resource guarding issues. This can make some days challenging. And when I feel myself losing my cool, I make sure I walk away. He has brought me to tears before with the amount of frustration I’ve felt. These “battles” as I call them, they’re not violent. They’re simply me waiting out the animal instinct in him. Waiting patiently for him to calm down and not backing up. He knows when he’s screwed up. You can see it, but his instincts are still there and even though he fights against them, they win out sometimes.
After the battle is over there’s still a war going on. This isn’t a violent war, it’s more of a chess game. How do I get even more money in my Piloting bank? There’s no love and affection, no treats, he must work for everything (sit to come in, spin to get a toy thrown for him) and there’s no talking to him. It’s a working relationship initially after. The greatest thing about dogs though? He’s okay with it. He doesn’t get mad at me for taking away his toy, he doesn’t get mad that he is not getting pet. He rolls with the punches. He’s already moved on from the situation.
The other day we had an incident with some resource guarding. We dealt with it and moved on. A few moments later a huge crack of lightning lit up the apartment. Porter instantly came over and sat by me. He looked to me for comfort still. No harbored feelings, just love and respect. Nothing I had done had hurt our relationship.
A different day, in the park, my mind was running a little too much. I could feel my stress level rising. I took a breather and buried my face into Porter’s back while giving him a quick hug. I felt him lean into me. When I got up, he looked at me with those big brown eyes and we continued on our walk. As we walked by another walker, she was kind enough to say “boy, that dog loves you”. I smiled and kept walking. If I had held on to those feelings of frustration that I’ve felt with him before, I wouldn’t be able to bond with him in a way that other people could see.
Our relationships, filled with love and respect with our dog, build these bonds that are indescribable and yet so evident. They’re relationships that we crave from our peers and even our friends. If all of our relationships were like the ones we have with our dogs, imagine how much more enjoyable life would be. The openness to not be judged, the ability to move forward from a situation without hanging on to unresolved feelings, the unconditional love. Maybe, just maybe, we should start living more like our dogs.
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH