Tuesday, December 29, 2015

For the New Year: resolutions and wishes and time.

This is the time of year when people go around wishing you all sorts of things, and then expecting you to make great resolutions about what you will accomplish in the New Year. Of course, we all know most wishes and resolutions are gone as quickly as the high cirrus clouds borne on the jet stream.

Next week we will get back to the serious stuff, particularly how your dog assesses life, their environment, and how you can work within this framework to keep Fluffy secure and why bad things are bad...and how being a jerk doesn't work.

But for now, I want to pass along a few wishes and maybe a resolution or two.  Simple resolutions are more likely to stick. After all, less effort = more success.

Here are my simple resolutions to make the upcoming year more enjoyable for both of you.

Resolve to teach your dog ONE THING. It doesn't matter what. Just one thing. It may be to sit when you ask, or walk on a leash without dragging you like a mule plowing a field. You might teach Franklin to shake hands, or roll over. Teach Sassy to look at you while walking whenever she sees the neighborhood cat they hate so she learns to recover from distraction and walk calmly. Teach ONE THING.

Resolve to try ONE NEW ACTIVITY with your dog. Agility, fly ball, obedience, nose work, dancing...there are a huge number of activities that you can try with your dog. Try one. Any one. Do one thing that involves both of you. At least once.

Do something for ONE DOG that is more than forwarding sad, tragic requests on the Internet. Forwarding and networking takes up a lot of time and makes a lot of people feel better, and may actually connect people and dogs in need, but GET OFF YOUR CHAIR. Leave the computer for a few minutes and do something. Drop off a bag of food at a rescue (and donating remotely doesn't count). Take a single day and walk one dog, any dog, at a shelter. Take brownies to your Vet's office. Take cookies to Animal Control to let them know that even if they aren't perfect you appreciate the things they do right. One time in the next year get out of the house, and out of your comfort zone, and do something for ONE DOG.

Learn one new thing ABOUT your dog. Read about body language. Look up the history of dogs and humans-it goes back a long way. Watch one training video and then decide how that particular trainer is full of nonsense and YOUR DOG is better than that. Ask your Vet about one thing going on inside your dog that you don't understand. Read a blog about pets by someone you hate and use it to find your own better way.

Now for my (and Petey's) New Year's wishes for you and your companion.

I wish for you and your dog good health, physical and emotional. I wish for the bond between you to grow stronger through the year.

I wish for you and your dog to find one new challenge this year. One new adventure, one new experience. Take your dog for an ice cream cone. Take them to hike a park you have never explored. Walk or jog a dog-and-owner 5K for a cause. You both could use time off the couch.

I wish for you good surprises and joy. I wish for you adventure and quiet time together. If you have an older dog I wish for peace and comfort and ease in their last years, and a quiet, restful passing if they need to move along.

I wish you snuggles and fetching and tug toys and late night barking at invisible ghosts (they are tricky those ghosts-a dog's gotta be watching all the time!) and a few (not too many) holes dug in your yard after evil moles. I wish belly rubs and cookies and chasing of tails (you should try it-even if your tail is too short). And if you have the chance I wish you puppy breath and tiny paws on the floor and puddles and chasing butterflies.

Above all I wish for you and your dog the gift of time. We have so few years with our dogs that we need to steal a few extra moments when we can. I wish for you to find a few of those extra moments to steal, and steal them greedily. Moments not squandered on distractions. Moments on the couch and in the car and on the trail and sitting curled up. Moments looking at your dog in wonder and in real life, not just snapchats and vines and pictures on a screen. Moments interacting, not just observing. These moments are moments invested, not spent. These moments are the snips and snorts in between all the other stuff in your life. That's what we and they are here for.

I wish you wishes granted and promises kept and intentions followed up, even if just once. That one time will live on long after for both of you.

These are my best wishes for you all. Peace, pets, and good sniffs.