“In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely try to train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.”
                                                                            -Edward Hoagland
Every so often I receive a call from a person looking for help with their dog that touches me deeply because the person is completely focused on putting their dog’s needs before their own. I spoke with such an individual this morning; a lovely man who wants to do “right” by his dog and instinctively knows he is missing the mark somehow, possibly failing his dog and is humble enough to reach out for information and real solutions.
For many, the inability to place the dog’s needs before their own ego is insurmountable because we humans want to feel we are knowledgeable and competent, especially when it comes to something we love and to which we have devoted much time and effort. Being a “beginner” can be uncomfortable and require us to be vulnerable and open ourselves to making mistakes, feeling silly and maybe opening ourselves up to criticism or at the very least, correction. We cling to what we have always done and always believed and have always been told by those whose knowledge we respect and those with whom we want to fit in because it’s safe and familiar, not necessarily because it’s correct or effective.
To admit there are things we may not know is risky.
Very often I will find that clients will take some of the information shared during a consultation but not all, using only the parts that seem to yield a quick fix or quick return on their energy investment; the parts that they’ve “heard” from other sources they’re familiar with so it seems safe to go with it, while not completely closing the envelope of security for their dog by applying all of the advice given. Somehow this allows the client to feel powerful in a sense, picking and choosing what agrees with them, rejecting what they don’t want to do or what might go against what they’ve always been told.
Most often, they won’t admit to this behavior, but will instead claim the method “doesn’t work”, something that those who understand and use it know is completely false and disingenuous.
But then I am blessed to converse with an individual who calls with an open heart and an open mind, only wanting to help their dog who they can see is suffering on some level and rather than abandon the dog to the backyard, or to a shelter, or abuse out of frustration, or to respond with “training” and techniques that are clearly not serving the dog but what has always seemed to work with the guardian’s previous dogs, they reach out, share their story, and I realize they are completely focused on finding a better way, a kinder way, a way that makes sense for the dog. For…the…dog.
The dog…first.
It’s these calls that remind me how important this work is. Because I know that if I hadn’t been available and ready to share this powerful, compassionate method, this wonderful man and all the other wonderful people out there would continue to look but wouldn’t find the solution they know in their heart their dogs need.
It’s in these moments that I am moved to tears to be blessed with such a lovely conversation with a truly caring, compassionate person and to have been fortunate enough to have found Jan Fennell’s work and to have been able to participate in the courses to become a Dog Listener (this fact is still like a dream to me). I’m so grateful for Jan herself, for her lifetime of dedication to dogs and to her being inspired to finding a better way; to Jan’s dedication and perseverance in getting her method out to the world, at times at great personal cost I would have to imagine, given the resistance I myself have experienced on a much smaller scale, even from friends and relatives. I’m grateful for Jan’s work for my own dog’s sake, and for all the other dogs and guardians who really get it, and I’m grateful to those guardians who know that what is currently available for their dogs doesn’t answer their questions, doesn’t truly resolve the behaviors and doesn’t allow them to develop the relationship with their dog that they know in their heart they can experience if they only had the tools they needed to close the communication and information gap.
I certainly didn’t have this posting in my mind when I poured my coffee this morning, but I am so deeply grateful to have enjoyed the conversation that sparked it with someone I know will do the very best for his dog by applying Amichien Bonding well and completely and who is just as grateful as I to learn there truly is a better way of being with our dogs.

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