Friday, October 15, 2010

Pre-training session meditation

The more I think about it, the more I realize how well meditation, mindfulness, and dog training go together.

Lamar relaxing and enjoying a paw massage
Our dogs are highly sensitive and tuned in to our mental states. Their noses are so sensitive that they can pick up pheromonal changes the moment we break into a nervous sweat. Having co-evolved with us for hundreds of years, they are highly adapted to pick up on nuances of human emotion. Staying relaxed when we work with our dogs helps them stay relaxed as well, as we project our relaxation down the leash and into them. Here is a meditation to practice at the start of training sessions with your dog.

Meditation: You have already arrived
We live in a very goal-oriented world, and it seems we spend a lot of mental energy thinking about how our lives could be better and the goals we hope to realize someday. We may think about what we’ll do once we’re more wealthy, or how our lives would be if we were more beautiful, had a nicer house, or our dogs were better behaved.

It is important to realize that though we can do many things to improve our lives, we also have everything we need for complete happiness right here, in this very moment.

Close your eyes, and take a deep breath. As you breathe in, imagine you are breathing in white light that floods your lungs, then your chest, then your entire body.

Now think about all the things you have ever wanted: more material wealth, a better job, more friends, a dog who behaves well and responds to your requests. You may have felt that these things were beyond your reach, but remember that with mindfulness, anything is possible.

Now imagine that You Have Already Arrived. All the physical beauty you have ever wanted, is yours. All the material wealth you ever wished for is already in your grasp. Your house is beautiful and sustains you, your friends are generous and abundant. Your dog is tuned in to your wants, and eager to do as you wish. You have already arrived.

To concretize this feeling, imagine a beautiful lotus flower blooming in your chest. The flower is nourished by the white light you’re breathing in, and with each breath the full, waxy, fragrant petals extend into your shoulders, your throat, your belly. This flower represents your completion, your attainment. Enjoy this feeling of abundance, and come back to it frequently. 

Practice this meditation with your dog beside you and think about what a wonderful being she is. Do you know anyone else so sensitive, intelligent, and affectionate? Show her your appreciation, and take some time to enjoy the appreciation she shows you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

more pit bull insights

This great pit bull blog sheds more light on this deliciously affectionate breed. Lately, Fozzie has not been content to sleep entwined in Florian's legs but insists on curling himself up, in a thankfully compact, doughnut-like form, in between our pillows. I enjoy the firm, muscular gluteals to rest my head against, not so sure about the scratchy, bony, gangly paws that occasionally jut out across my throat.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Why foster?

Lars has been back since just after we returned from Switzerland, due to circumstances beyond his control. Roy misses him, and I don't blame him. He is still anxious, but his nose is as long as ever and he still adores me, loves to play with me and Fozzie, and seeks out affection.

At night, when we go to bed, the other 3 dogs are in the bedroom with us. Fozzie is usually on my pillow making out with Florian, sometimes under the covers, sometimes snoring. Lamar won't allow Lars in with us, so Lars anxiously paces around for a while in the living room. I feel terrible that he is exiled from his tribe like this, so I have been trying to spend some extra special time with him before I go in to bed.

If I just spend a few minutes showing him he can lie on the couch--I don't think he realizes it yet--then cuddling him, stroking him, and loving him on the couch, he settles right down and sleeps right there.

This is why I put up with the front yard, a disaster area of torn up flower pots, dismembered plants and stuffed toys, potholes, compost and wood chips scattered across would-be walkways. And the house, which requires daily sweepings to remove the piles of dog hair, dust, and chewed up fragments of what was once my sweatshirt or Florian's underwear.