Throw-back Thursday

One of my favourites.

Voices on the Wind

 

Mid-summer’s eve
Light the bone fire
Amid the standing stones

Fire, moon, and harper’s song
Sacred triad
Gate to Tir Na N’og

Into the green
Where the Kowrie live
And the stag chases the moon

The music calls
And I must follow
Into the Summerheart

SB

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Dog Training

 

Dog couch

Dog training is strongly facilitated by the fact that a dog’s highest desire is to have life be predictable and safe.

It’s a stronger desire than food or affection. (For example: If your dog is extremely stressed they won’t eat the super yummy treat that you’re offering them, even if they’re very food driven.  Your touch isn’t totally calming when they’re shivering because of fireworks.)  The only way to help them to overcome their natural stress reaction is through helping them to learn that they can look to you for leadership  If they view you as the one who’s on the hook to deal with the bad, scary things then they can relax because they’re no longer worried that *they* will have to somehow deal with it.

While they may never completely overcome the fear (depending on their temperament, the source, the amount of reinforcement they’ve had of the fear, age, etc) they will find comfort in your presence and learn to relax more during the fearful happening if you are around.  That only comes with the opening of the lines of communication, which is what training is all about.  It’s about creating a new language as a team, both of you creating and learning its nuances together and thus also strengthening your bond at the same time.

The top things affecting how easy it is to open those lines of communication between our two species are the strength of the dog’s instinct for pack (Shiba Inu, I’m looking at you!), and the intelligence of both parties.

Your dog *wants* to understand, it *wants* to know what to expect.  Training really comes down to the simplest of terms.  It can be summed up in two golden rules:

  1. Be consistent.
  2. If you don’t say “no”, your dog hears “yes”.

That’s really it, it’s that simple.

Of course then you’ve got human nature to contend with, which makes problems where there don’t need to be any.

You’ve decided that there’s a rule that the dog’s not allowed on the couch.  You always tell him no when he does it.  Well, except when you get home from a long day and you’re exhausted and cranky and you just couldn’t be bothered to make him get off when he doesn’t respond to your command.  Or when you’ve got friends over and you don’t want to get into a training session with him.  Or when you’re running out the door and, you know, it’ll be fine….

Congratulations, you’ve just broken both of the golden rules!  If you decide on a rule (no jumping up unless you tell them to, no barking, no getting on the furniture, no going up/down the stairs unless instructed to, etc) you MUST reinforce it *every* time.  If you let it slide “just this once” you’ve set it up in your dog’s mind that maybe there’s some wiggle room.  “Maybe *this* is one of those times when it’s allowed. Can I do it now?  What about now?”

This is very much shooting yourself in the foot. You are prolonging the amount of time it will take to have this be an unquestioned rule in your dog’s mind.

To address the second golden rule, it’s really what it sounds like.  Anything (no really, anything) that your dog does, they are finding out if it’s allowed.  If you laugh and say: “Oh, isn’t that cute!” when your Great Dane puppy does something when they’re little, recognize that they will still believe that you are ok with it when they are a 200lb adult.  You can probably imagine ways that could go horribly wrong.

People seem to feel like giving rules to dogs is cruel, but it is very important for them, in multiple ways.  An untrained dog is an unhappy and stressed dog.  That can manifest itself in behaviours such as barking, biting, jumping, overly physical play, aggression, possessiveness, inappropriate chewing, etc.  At that point, not only is your dog stressed but so are you!  You’ve got this unruly “monster” that you don’t know how you ended up with, after having such a sweet, adorable puppy, which leads to a huge number of dogs being given up to shelters.  In the US alone, literally *millions* of dogs are surrendered annually to shelters because of issues with the dog (as opposed to family issues).  Issues that could have been prevented by simply being consistent and clear in the owner’s expectations.

People also need to realize that while we may feel like we’re “imposing our will” or something on the dog, and view that as an unkind thing, they need to recognize that to the dog, knowing what is expected is intensely comforting.

“If I do this, this happens.”

“If she does that, I do this.”

It seems so simple, but that will give your dog a sense of safety.  The unknown is frightening to all of us, but you and I can Google what that weird noise was and learn some logical and rational things about it that alleviate our stress.  Your dog is looking to *you* to tell it that all is well.  If you haven’t established that bond of communication, then they cannot take their comfort from you.

If you keep those two rules in mind, you can have years of happy, fulfilling relationship with your dog.

 

Books

I have a life-long love affair with books.  Books are right near the top of the list of my favourite things, as well as my favourite memories.  Occasionally a song will make me think of a specific book, which is probably weird, but kind of fun.  Hell, my basement is pretty much a private library.  People ask me where to find a particular book, and with the non-fiction I can sort of understand, I separated them by topic but really that’s somewhat arbitrary since a given book could be classified multiple ways.  My *fiction* books, however, are alphabetized by author.  I mean, doesn’t that make sense?  ….*ahem* <_<    >_>

I have some individual books and series that I’ve read and re-read countless times (well, you know, not literally *countless*).  What is it about these particular stories that has them metamorphose from just another enjoyable story into an old friend?  And I just *know*, when I’m reading a new book, if I’ll develop that kind of a relationship with it.  Will it be an acquaintance or one of those instant loves?

I think the style of writing matters a lot, for me.  It can be a bit simpler, for instance I love some young adult books, but it absolutely cannot be pretentious.  I was reading a book for my Read Harder challenge and I kept complaining about it to my friend (possibly not the nicest thing, since it was her book for the topic and she liked it.  Oops!).  But the author’s tone of voice just rubbed me the wrong way.  A LOT.  It was like he was trying to tell the readers that he was so far beyond them in the scope of his intelligence that they should feel privileged to have him sharing his thoughts with them.  …you know, as long as they knew all of the $20 words he felt it was important to toss around in every, freaking sentence. *deep breath*

All in all though, of the books that I read for the first time this year there’ve been a few that really stood out and made it to my book shelves in my library for future re-reading.  One of them was Chris Hadfield’s book “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth” which was a real eye-opener and a very positive outlook on life.

Another favourite was Richard Parks’ “All the Gates of Hell” which was a delightfully fresh story that both taught me some aspects of Buddhist beliefs that I hadn’t known as well as being far less predictable than so many of the fantasy books out there.

I also read a book that was outside of my normal genres that I really enjoyed, “Jigs and Reels“, by Joanne Harris.  I originally borrowed it from the library but I will definitely be buying myself a copy, I just loved it!  It’s a collection of short stories that managed to surprise and delight me.

I’m currently reading the last book in Madeleine L’Engle’s “Wrinkle in Time” series.  I can’t believe that I’ve never read them before!  I saw that they’re making a movie of the first book and I realized that I didn’t remember the story.  My thinking was “well obviously I’ve read it, it’s one of those stories that *everyone’s* read, so why don’t I remember it?”  I trundled off to the book store because I inexplicably didn’t have a copy, whereupon I discovered that it’s a five book series.  I’d only gotten a short way into the first book when I came to the conclusion that I’d somehow managed to miss reading this when I was a book-obsessed child/teen but I’m so glad that I started!

Morning haiku

Woken by sunshine

Beaming through the window pane

My heart is joyful

 

Beautiful sunrise

Filtering through the dark trees

Quiet morning peace

 

Take a single step

Spasms radiate outward

Pain steals away thought

SB

Thoughts on sleep

You are the moon to me

Behind the clouds you are the most beautiful thing in the night sky

Unhidden, you are radiant

 

I’ve always been a night owl.  When I was a kid it was *really* bad, I’d lay in bed for hours every night, staring at the walls and the ceiling (you know you spend too much time staring at the ceiling when you are thankful for the stucco for giving you something to think about while you find faces and other patterns).  Then of course, I had to get up early for school, so I was constantly tired.  I remember when I was quite young I was so desperate to get some sleep I’d sneak gravol (Dramamine in the US) just so I could quasi-function the next day at school.  This is a problem.  We don’t all have the same settings for our sleep schedules, some people’s brains are just wired differently.  I sometimes wonder if my school years would have been different had I been able to actually be well-rested.  Instead I spent years in a sleep-deprived haze of cloudy and unfocused thoughts.

These thoughts brought to you at nearly 3am.

Rich people can suck too

I recently treated myself to a meal at a very expensive restaurant (read: I was given a gift certificate for my birthday).  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was about to be treated to a view of rich people that I’d never had before.

I sat down and started looking at the menu (good grief, who can afford to eat there???  But I digress.) and several men came in and were seated at a nearby table.  They started speaking like so many other young men I’ve heard over the years, but then they branched out into rich people problems.  One was talking about his girlfriend/future wife and  how he didn’t want to introduce her to the fun of playing golf because she would need to be home caring for their future children and taking care of the cooking and such.  One of his friends suggested he could teach her to golf once they were in their 50’s.  … so, clearly all of the work of child rearing and house work and cooking is hers while his only concerns outside of paid work are what fun things he can do? He did, however, have many complaints about her use of her free time, even though he clearly didn’t value spending his free time with her. *grit teeth* The quality of their conversations went downhill from there.

Another group enters and sits down nearby.  It looks to be a couple and their grown daughter and I thought to myself that at least that conversation will be less irritating to inadvertently overhear.

I was wrong.

Apparently the daughter is getting married and the run-through on the reception was scheduled for the next day.  And her father, bless his soul, apparently felt the keen need to control every tiny little detail of HIS special day.  His biggest concern seemed to be BUT WHAT IF PEOPLE GO AND GET A DRINK OR GO TO THE BATHROOM DURING THE BRIDE AND GROOM’S SPECIAL DANCE?????  His exceedingly patient daughter kept telling him that a) the set-up of the room was such that they would have no reason to be in the way if they got up, b) the schedule of things had been set up so that it would be unlikely to happen, c) who cares? d) no, Dad, this has been totally arranged and will be explained to the guests, e) seriously Dad, this is how it’s laid out, see?  We’ll be here, the DJ will be here, the bathrooms are here, the tables are agains the wall here, ….., f) Dad, the master of ceremonies will tell people what is happening and that they should stay in their seats, g)….   Dad: But what’s to stop them?  But they can just get up when you’re dancing and get a drink.  But they should be made to stay seated.  But they might stand up! They should be forced to stay.  The bar should be closed.  The bathrooms should be closed.  People must be controlled!

…. His wife never opened her mouth or raised her eyes, that I could see.

I realize that this is a tiny slice of that section of the population, but that was every single person in the room and I found it a depressing glimpse.

Chronic Pain

This is one of those topics I don’t talk about much because it’s fairly personal.  But… it’s a very prevalent and important part of my life so I don’t want to entirely sweep it under the rug.

My reluctance to talk about my daily doses of pain stems partly from the fact that it makes other people uncomfortable.  I’m trying both to protect them from feeling the things it makes them feel and to protect myself from their reactions.

When I talk about my pain people usually try to give me suggestions, tips, ideas.  Based on their own experience.  I know that they’re trying to be helpful and that they think that what they’re telling me *is* helpful.  That’s not how it feels.

It feels invasive and dismissive and patronizing.  And I can’t respond to them based on that, because I know they don’t mean it to feel that way.

“Have you tried ‘x’ supplement?” Probably
“Have you tried applying heat?” Yes
“Cold?” Yes
“Eat healthier.” I eat in a very healthy way
“Eat less red meat.” I’ve tried that, it makes me feel worse
“Exercise more.” I exercise in ways that I can accomplish without making my life worse
“” …thanks.  I’ve probably tried it, or researched it and dismissed it.

It’s exhausting just thinking about it.

Part of the problem is that *because* it makes people uncomfortable they want to FIX IT.  NOW!  (believe me, I’d like nothing better)  They don’t want to hear that their suggestion isn’t valid *in this case*.  It worked for their acute case of pain and therefore it should work just as well for my chronic pain.  Those are entirely different beasts.  It would be something like treating chronic depression as though it were a fleeting sadness.

The main issue is that the suggestions are for ways to “get through it” and that is an invalid premise.  Getting through something implies experiencing it and then getting past it, being done with it.  Finishing.  That doesn’t apply to chronic pain.  There *IS* no “through” it.  It will remain, it will be back today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.  It will remain, one of the most steadfast facets of my life.  The BEST I can hope for is that it stagnates.

When I open up to someone and tell them that I’m feeling crappy and I’m having a bad day, what I really want from them is acknowledgement. “That really sucks.”  I don’t want you to fix it, I don’t want you to tell me something to try (unless I specifically ask you for your thoughts or advice, of course), and I *guarantee* that I don’t want you to try and make me feel better (because no matter how you mean it, it ends us making me feel like you’re dismissing how I’m feeling).  I’m sharing a valid feeling with you, I just want you to sit with me and let me feel it and tell me that it’s valid.  That’s it.

I know that I’ll survive, I know that you wish I could just feel better, I know that I have good days, I know that I will have good days in the future, I know….  I know.

I’m just having a bad day and I’m reaching out for another human being to share my feelings with.

Wow, I feel much better.  Just saying all of that helped.  And you didn’t even have to say anything in return!  🙂

Edit: I was done here, but the fine folks at SciShow posted something that made me think and I wanted to share it.

In my own experience, swearing when I’m in pain is an aggressive act.  Sometimes I’m angry at my body, feeling like it is betraying me, sometimes I’m angry at life, sometimes I’m angry at whatever just contributed to my pain (I’m looking at you, sidewalk!).  When I’m channeling that emotion and swearing, it does end up hurting less than the times where I try and clamp down on my desire to let loose with a few choice words.  In those settings where I feel like I can’t use yell out a couple of well-chosen profanities I am definitely feeling more pain.  Or when I’m feeling more defeated by the situation, more sad, and thus don’t swear, it somehow feels worse too.