Dash: My Diary of Life, Love, and Cookies
This book is about understanding ourselves through our relationship with our dogs. By taking the time to pay attention, we can learn much from our four-legged friends. Through patience we can enhance communication and decrease frustration. If we let our dogs make mistakes and teach them, they can grow in confidence and understanding and become better behaved. When this happens, dogs become our best friends and advocates. I learned as much from my dog as he, I hope, learned from me. The better we understood each other the stronger our bond became and the more fun we had. It was not perfect; there were many mistakes along the way. But, over time it got much easier. My best friend, Dash, knew I would always be there for him and I knew he would do his best to never let me down. This took time, patience, mutual trust, and understanding. Like human relationships, you get out what you put in and it takes effort on both sides. I tell this story through my dog’s eyes because this, I hope, helps to explain the challenges of a dog in a people world. Dogs are "part" of our life but we are the whole of their life. They depend on us for food, exercise, socialization, medicine and love. The more attentive we are, the better they do at knowing our expectations. But it's not easy. Animal behavior is often misunderstood. It’s easy to become inpatient or frustrated at what we see as bad behavior but if we can change our perspective, we might see that these mistakes are not bad behavior but are our pets trying to communicate in the only way they can. We need to pay attention to what they are trying to tell us. Dogs cannot tell us through words so it's about behavior and our response to their behavior. I am not here to give advice; I made my share of mistakes along the way. But learning for me occurred when I realized that Dash gave me a very special gift. Dogs have senses that humans don't have and many of his responses were based on not just my behavior but my emotion. He knew when I was stressed, angry, frustrated and scared long before I did. He was responding to me. His intent was to help, protect and support me. Yet, if I missed these cues, I would get angry at him for jumping or barking. He would not understand what he did wrong, as he was just trying to help. Likewise, he knew when I was happy, joyful, excited, and proud. He celebrated with me using his emotions (running around, jumping and barking) but at times I would not interpret this as love and support and would get frustrated with him. I would then leave and celebrate my good news with friends, leaving him hurt and confused. Once I understood that he was there for me and I took the time to acknowledge that, he calmed down. While he didn't get to go everywhere, he had more adventures than many dogs because his inclusion enhanced the fun. Even if he didn’t get to go, he knew he was a good boy and was not frustrated and feeling misunderstood. I hope as you read about Dash’s adventures that you will embrace that special relationship between person and dog and if you have never had a dog, will consider adopting one. I have learned so much about myself thought Dash. I hope you enjoy Dash’s adventures as much as I did his real life.