The Dog I've Always Wanted

Canine Behavior, Training and Photography

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Entries from November 2009

November Gallery

November 30th, 2009 · 1 Comment · On Photography, Photo Gallery

Just the Light

At this time of year when we are very aware of our dwindling ration of natural light I thought it timely to post some of my photos that I call “Just the Light”. And that’s what they are…photographs of light.

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Rehearsed Aggression and Other Thoughts on Training

November 24th, 2009 · 1 Comment · Musings


It is a fact that the purists among the positive reinforcement trainers make the claim that any ” aggressive “action towards the dog on the part of the owner will certainly cause the dog to respond in kind. If this is the case any pinning (which could be termed aggressive but which I believe is actually assertive) would provoke aggressive behaviour in the dog. Improperly administered corrections, by that I mean corrections delivered in an aggressive manner, can and will open up the possibility of an aggressive response on the dog’s part. Animal trainers speak of “rehearsed aggression” ; I think it was a lion tamer who actually coined this term. Rehearsed aggression refers to aggression that is elicited in an animal by means of, or in response to a training method. Accepting as a genuine concern that undesirable aggression can be the result of training, it is crucial to note that it is improper training that can bring about this type of outcome. [Read more]

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Why Keep a Dog?

November 10th, 2009 · 2 Comments · Why Keep a Dog?

I like Jon Katz’s references to the notion of a “writing dog”. No, it’s not about dogs writing. Rather it is the term Katz uses to describe a dog who is able to,and even enjoys, lying quietly in the room while one writes. This is an invaluable trait in a dog. It is a very subtle form of co1128-17mpanionship. The dog is there in the room, mostly silent. At times one may notice the dog; he may sigh in his sleep, change positions, fart or snore. His sounds are only reassuring reminders that he is still there; they are not intrusions into one’s work. I think that this is the essence of companionship.

These days I have the remarkable good fortune to enjoy the company of two pretty reliable writing dogs and one understudy. The latter is a puppy who is still likely to be too full of beans to be capable of being still enough for this job. And it is a job. The quiet presence of a dog creates a sense of security which nurtures the creative process and enables concentration. Someone, who happened to glance into my room while I was at the computer with the three dogs in repose in their usual places, said “Wow! It’s like a womb.” [Read more]

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Back to the Blog 5 Benny the Hunter

November 2nd, 2009 · 1 Comment · Back to the Blog, Photo Gallery

I had the opportunity this summer to see a side of Benny that only exists when he’s a country dog, Benny the hunter. Chipmunks were his prime targets with frogs and snakes a close second. Fortunately for them they most often escaped unscathed. Benny turned three this summer and he is in peak shape. His strength and his agility are as good as they’ll ever be. This summer he was more successful as a hunter than he’d ever been previously.

Watching Benny in this role was quite thought-provoking. It gave rise, in particular, to an interesting question. If I am the pack leader, why am I not leading the hunt? Why isn’t it my head in that chipmunk’s burrow? He was in hot pursuit of prey and I was the observer and occasional documenter of his prowess. Didn’t this in some way undermine my role as leader? We had our daily power walks out to Highway 7, just Benny and I. I thought of these walks as surrogate hunts with me in charge. We did, in his case sniff and in mine visually inspect the tracks and spoor of a variety of potential prey. However, and I say this perhaps a little wistfully, we did not go bounding through the bush, hot on the trail of deer or rabbit or anything at all.  We never shared a kill. Doesn’t this make the hunts I led a little lame?  How could our walks compare to the hunts he initiated himself? The question I kept asking myself  in regard to this point is, how did Benny interpret events? Dare I say, what did he make of it all? [Read more]

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