Saturday, August 7, 2010

Part One: My Role As The Pack Leader

I am currently following several blogs whose authors have made commitments to posting positive and happy posts for a varying number of days; some are even doing it for a year. I find myself really enjoying those blogs. I go there, I visit, I linger, and when I leave I'm smiling and feeling light and refreshed! (You know who you are!) Darnit, I want people to feel that way when they leave my blog!

I've known all along that I have a lot to be happy about and thankful about. And while I'm human, and I'm going to have bad days and I'm going to get angry (and need to vent once in a while), I would like my blog to have a mainly happy, easy going, funny theme to it. I've also decided that while avoiding anger and upset entirely, is out of the question (I work with the public) that I need to try to channel it in a different manner- both for my sanity and for Lucy's... While there is no way to eliminate the insanity from my life there is a definite way for me to put a positive and even comical spin on it. And so that's my plan, my commitment!

Last night I started reading Cesar Milan's book, "Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar's Way to Transform Your Dog . . . and Your Life". I read through the first two chapters, and probably would have kept going if I had been able to keep my eyes open!
This is the first of Cesar's books that I have read, although he has been recommended to me several times by several different people. I love reading, I love to read to educate myself on something new, or brush up on something old. I read to take mental vacations, I read to teach myself how to do things, and I read to understand relationships, behaviors, and all kinds of other things. Mostly, I found myself reading this book because after having several different conversations about Cesar Milan, I had to find out what it was all about. After all, there can't be that much positive conversation going on if there isn't something to his theories.

Just like being a parent to a child, I want to be the best Human to Lucy that I can possibly be. And it's hard to do that without understanding how she thinks, and exactly how she sees things- because as smart as she is, she's not a human! And I could wait around all day, but she ain't sayin! So I read. And I read. And I read some more.

I accepted early on in my relationship with Lucy that she is a very intelligent and perceptive dog, and since she spends so much time with me, she's going to know me probably better than what I know myself. And just like I wouldn't want to cause unhappiness in another human, I don't want to cause unhappiness in my dog. (I gained a full understanding of all of this last night after 10PM...)

This book was fascinating. I wish I hadn't been so tired, I probably could have read through the whole darn book last night. I turned page after page thinking to myself "This makes sense" or "I had never thought of that" and of course there were a few "I knew that, why have I forgotten that?" Lucy watched me talking to myself for a little while, got tired of the whole thing and decided to get some sleep!

(Lucy's Daddy is in Houston, so we had the whole bed to ourselves last night, and Lucy took full advantage of the situation. If you would've seen the pose she woke up in this morning, you'd laugh for 10 minutes. Unfortunately, by the time I had the camera fired up and ready to go, she had moved!)

One of the things that I found most fascinating was the concept that your dog is a mirror image of you. In other words, if you're miserable, unhappy, depressed or angry the chances that your dog is going to pick up on this and act out in an inappropriate way are very great. I stopped a minute and thought about this idea, looking for some validation of this idea. I've known very unhappy people with dogs. How did those dogs behave? AHA MOMENT! Oh my gosh! Anger, aggression, obsession or compulsion with objects, guarding of food, possessiveness with toys can all be signs of issues caused by the mirror effect. The dog is just acting out against the unhappiness of his leader.

Cesar sites the example of Marley and his life with John & Jenny Grogan. He talks about how out of control Marley was, especially during the time when Jenny suffered with post-partum depression. And as I thought back to the book, and to the movie it all made sense. Marley acted out in response to his humans distress. "Marley & Me" is, and probably always will be one of my favorite books, and favorite movies. Not because the dog was so funny, but because of the love and affection the family felt for Marley and the huge contribution Marley made to their lives. (I would also love to tell a story that is so poignant and wonderful that it becomes a book and then a movie and tops the best seller list for years and years!)

It's interesting that in all the times I've read the book and watched the movie, I've never thought anything but "What a bad, but wonderful puppy!" It never occurred to me what was really going on- until I read Cesar's example last night in his book.

As I said, I only made it through 2 Chapters. Already, I feel more educated and enlightened. I can't wait to read more, and of course, I'll be posting more on this book as I read... I can already tell that I'll probably be reading more of this man's books. His ideas are intriguing, intelligent and compelling. Who knows, maybe I have an unrecognized secret desire to work with animals. I know that more often or not, I find them more pleasant to be around than most humans.

The proof is in the pudding... I feel better even after writing just this post!

Have a wonderful & blessed weekend, everyone!


  1. I love Cesar and will have to go get this book! I watch his show all of the time and then practice things I learned on my dogs. :)

    Happy Saturday :)

  2. I'm not a fan of Ceasar, but I wish you much enjoyment from reading his book! I also commend you on your decision to try to look for the positives in life and share them on the blog that way. People who see the good in things tend to live a lot longer, and Lucy will be thrilled to have a happy human!

  3. I am an ex-Cesar fan as well,though I don't disagree with everything he say's. There are some things that don't really relate well such as this statement: "Anger, aggression, obsession or compulsion with objects, guarding of food, possessiveness with toys can all be signs of issues caused by the mirror effect. The dog is just acting out against the unhappiness of his leader."

    Cesar tends to have a one size fits all approach when technically a lot of those behaviors are the dog reacting out of fear the things being taken away, or fear of being harmed, by whatever he's reacting against.

    Believe me, I'm a very "happy" person in this sense, yet my dachshund Texas is extremely reactive (aggressive type behavior) towards strangers, other dogs etc..

    Ok so I'm starting to ramble LOL! The jist of this post is to say, don't use Cesar as your only source. :))

    Like I said, I'm not a Cesar hater, and am glad he's out there helping those dogs that would otherwise be put down, but as far as training goes...he says he's not a trainer and I fully believe that. :))

  4. Thanks for sharing, always on the look out for a good book to read. After nine scotties, maybe I should find out what I've done wrong!

    XXXOOO Daisy, Kendra & Bella

  5. I'm a very negative person by nature. I felt my blog was becoming a negative fixture as well so as a way to help combat that, I started doing Half Full Friday where I post things that made me happy during the week. I have to write them down or by Friday, I can't think of a single thing! And even with writing things down, it's still a struggle for me sometimes.

    There's a few blogs I enjoy visiting that make me feel uplifted afterwards too.

  6. We can all stand to be more positive on a daily basis - love this reminder!

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  8. I too am working on being more positive after a very long rough patch I went through. I am starting to see wonderful results.

    I'm not a Ceasar fan either, only because of his one-size-fits-all theory. I don't believe in that.

    But there are things I have learned about canine behavior from him that have helped me in my understanding. I use a variety of methods, techniques and alot of observation to really understand what is going through my dogs mind. They may be a mirror of me, but I am also a mirror of them.

    Keep your mind open, Lucy will probably teach you more about you and herself than you could ever imagine. (and more than any book)