Monday, July 20, 2009

Bones Would Rain from the Sky

I've started reading the book in the title there. It's one of the 'big name' modern training/dog philosophy books you see mentioned again and again. Also, unlike The Other End of the Leash and Don't Shoot the Dog, it was in at my local library branch. I'm not very far yet, just starting chapter 3, which is not very far at all to start making judgments, but I'm feeling a little dubious.

It is, to use a highly technical term 'mushy-gushy touchy-feely' it makes frequent reference to 'dogs praying' or 'souls dancing' it cries over tragic pasts and the miracle of infinite forgiveness. It is, in many ways so far, an autobiography of a very sensitive person.

You may have noticed 'nerd' in the title of this blog. I am not, by any stretch, a mushy-gushy touchy-feely person*. More concerning, my husband is even less so. I despair of getting him to read the thing without laughing and mocking it incessantly. I'm considering not even asking if it does not get notably better, which would be unfortunate, given how much so many people seem to have learned from it.

In many ways, egotist that I am, I think my analytic nature is helpful in dealing with animals. I research. I notice details, notice patterns, question assumptions and first guesses. I demand causality, repeatability, evidence. I look for explanations if something doesn't work, or if it does work and I don't know why. Honestly, husband and I do this in our relationship with each other. It's effective. But it seems to be a far cry from the rest of the world. Particularly the rest of the world that loves fuzzy-wuzzy animals.

I like the *idea* of the book. It talks of gaining a rapport with animals - communication, not just conditioned responses. That sounds like a great thing, even an achievable thing. The nerd in me has no problem whatsoever with this part. But is the only way to get there through a lot of misty-eyed meditation about souls? Tendencies, I can understand. Motivations, subtle communication, wants, needs, fears. I know that this is not the sort of thing there is a 'quick fix for... but if the only way is looking into the dogs eyes and 'just knowing'? Sorry, you'll have to be more specific.

Hopefully, I will post again in a few days and say 'ha! never mind all that - just skip the first few chapters or so, she gets into the real meat later'. I did like her metaphor that learning these things is like learning how your grandmother bakes. There may not be a 'recipe' just an understanding of the ingredients, and a lot of trial and error.

I already eschew (or heavily alter) recipes in my cooking, and in my knitting, so I am not afraid of the abstract, if anything, it excites me. I'm just hoping that she gets into an overview of the ingredients in a way I can understand, and that they aren't so mushy-gushy I stop reading.

*though I did cry during UP - I think it was the first time I've cried at a movie ever. It still blows my mind a bit. Hormones may have been involved.

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