The Dog I've Always Wanted

Canine Behavior, Training and Photography

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Entries from January 2009

Doggie Daycare Gallery Winter

January 25th, 2009 · 2 Comments · Captioned Photo

Due to the cold, really cold,  weather we’ve been experiencing lately we’ve been spending more time inside. This has afforded me an excellent opportunity to make some quick portraits of our dog friends. I find the sight of these furry faces quite heart warming on these cold winter days. Most of these shots were made with only natural light from a window.  The colours reflect the cool winter light. The dogs are wonderful subjects, totally without pretense or inhibition.

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Little Lions, Bull Baiters & Hunting Hounds a history of dog breeds by Jeff Crosby and Shelley Ann Jackson

January 19th, 2009 · No Comments · Book Reviews

There are a lot of breed books available just now and I’ve browsed a number of them. You know, looking up your own dog’s breed or breeds if he’s a mix. Then checking out breeds that you think you might like to own. Sometime. In any case, the layout of these books varies somewhat, although the usual arrangement is to divide the various breeds into their broader categories: hunting, herding, working, and companion or toy. Something like that. Within those categories each breed has its own section, a page or half of one, in which it is described in detail, its requirements and needs are stated, and its advantages and disadvantages are noted.

“Little Lions, Bull Baiters & Hunting Hounds” is a different sort of breed book. Instead of the usual photographs it is richly illustrated with oil-like images. Breed groups are presented and the angle has a historical leaning. The book is targeted at the younger reader and in addition to tracing the origins of a breed reference is made to the geographical area in which it originated. Small maps inset in the larger illustration clarify this information.

Although this book does not boast anywhere near the two hundred and fifty breeds that fill the pages of some breed books it gives the reader a good general impression of broad classifications and explains, in general, what qualifies a breed for membership in a given category.

Another very nice feature is that the dogs are depicted doing what they are bred to do. A Newfie and a Labrador retriever are shown at work with fishermen, greyhounds are seen coursing a hare, and a border collie is portrayed “giving the eye” to a recalcitrant sheep. Very engaging.

This book is a good introduction to the subject for young people who are developing an interest in dogs.

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Be The Dog — Secrets of the Natural Dog Owner by Steve Duno

January 10th, 2009 · No Comments · Book Reviews

What constitutes a “natural” dog owner? In this context it seems to mean an individual who has an intuitive understanding of dogs and a realistic set of expectations with regards to dog behaviour. It is the kind of dog person who can develop a rapport with an animal that can appear to be virtually psychic when in fact it is based on a very subtle kind of body language. This kind of body talk expresses intention and may be something as discreet as a shift in one’s centre of gravity, an almost imperceptible  leaning. These are the people who speak dog.

Steve Duno defines the phrase “Be the Dog” as meaning one must learn to imagine the world as it is perceived by the sensory equipment of a dog. In other words,  adopt the dog’s point of view which makes being a dog owner something like method acting. It also requires fluency in canine body language and an  almost psychic ability to know what your dog is about to do. One must establish oneself as a confident, capable and fair leader. All this plus a recognition of how vital social connections are to both dog and human. This is the starting point and the good news is that while it is definitely true that many natural dog owners are just born that way, it is a state to which we can aspire. Steve Duno says that education and the drive to empathize are key. [Read more]

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Dog Talk by Harrison Forbes with Beth Adelman

January 4th, 2009 · No Comments · Book Reviews

“A company recently approached me about doing a set of training videos they planned to call the Harrison Method.”  I told them, “That’s exactly what I am not going to do.  If I limit my training to one set of techniques, then I’m saying one size fits all and you are obligated to do everything that one way. But the truth is that approach doesn’t work. Any single method may be great for a couple of dogs, or even most of them, but there’s always going to be a big percentage for who that approach doesn’t work.”

“My training method is the anti-method. You need to be open to every method and throw your preconceived notions out the window. Understanding dogs and their behaviour is a never-ending process. It’s like building a library; if you want to teach a dog to sit, there are twenty different ways to get there and each way will work well on at least one dog you’re likely to meet. And when somebody shows you the twenty-first way, you”ve got to be open-minded and stick it on your library shelf, because you may need to pull it down one day. To me, that’s what a good dog trainer does.”

When I read the preceding  paragraphs in Harrison Forbes’ book Dog Talk it was as though I’d found gold. Yes, I thought, this is a guy with his head screwed on straight. [Read more]

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