I adore my dog. This blog is a pretty obvious testament to that fact. I don’t think anyone questions it. But while I love Shiva to bits and pieces, she is not my “heart dog”. We just don’t have that deep, other-worldly kind of connection many bloggers talk about. We both struggle to understand each other almost every day. I am sure many times she is just as frustrated with me as I am with her.
However, just because I don’t think she is my canine soul mate doesn’t mean my dog doesn’t have an important role of her own. From the start of our relationship, Shiva has been my teacher-dog. With patience (usually) she has worked hard to instruct me on the ways of her world. I’ve jokingly called her “sensei” and “coach”. More recently, I’ve started calling her the “human whisperer.”*
Shiva is a far better teacher than I will ever be. She instinctively knows everything that has taken me years to learn.
1. Shiva never punishes my mistakes. Back when I attempted some old-school methods of my own, she chose to simply ignore my behaviour. My pathetic corrections had no effect on her whatsoever.
2. When I get it right, Shiva rewards, rewards, rewards. And then rewards some more. It’s party-time all over the place.
3. Shiva is an awesome motivator. Even when I don’t feel like working, she knows how to push me just enough to get me off my butt. But so much that I am yelling at her in frustration.
4. Her timing is excellent. She knows when I need a break and when I am about to have a lightbulb moment. Shiva can sense when I am struggling and gives just enough hints to help me figure it out.
5. Shiva makes me feel smart. Her lessons are simple and short. She shows instead of tells and teaches me how to discover things on my own.
6. If I regress, which is bound to happen sometimes, Shiva doesn’t sigh or get angry. She knows it’s not personal or a reflection of her abilities. She simply waits for me to remember the right way. When I do, we have an even bigger party than the first time.
7. Shiva is a cheerleader. No matter how long it takes me, she never gives up.
Due to her excellence in the classroom, our future dogs are going to be awesome. That is, if I retain everything she has taught. Applying my knowledge has never been my forte.
Does your dog play a specific role on your life?
*To be clear, I mean the pre-Millan, Paul Owens kind of whispering. Shiva doesn’t believe in physical corrections. Which is a good thing for both of us!