There are a few phrases that really push my buttons. When talking to trainers, the one that will always get a reaction from me is this explanation for why the trainer used a specific technique or piece of equipment: "I had to."
On Nov. 10, an immeasurably large crowd gathered at the gates of Heaven to meet someone special. There were dogs, horses, cats, goats, birds, snakes, lizards, ponies, sheep and more, animals of many descriptions, all bright eyed, tail wagging, prancing in glorious bodies. There were people too, smiles on their faces, arms open in greeting. All had their gaze turned on the gates as a bright, shining figure approached. The murmur rippled through the vast crowd, "Dr. Sharon is here... she's here!!"
A recent article in Science News simply blew me away: for rats who had strokes induced, the simple stimulation of a single whisker proved sufficient to completely prevent the damage in the brain typical of strokes. The touch of a whisker was done at intervals during the 2 hour window from onset of the stroke. Total "whisker" time? Less than 5 minutes within that 2 hour time frame.
One whisker. A simple touch.
So much prevented.
The implications for human stroke victims are enormous. Treatment that is free. Easily provided. So much potential for good.
It's been a year for the winds of changes to blow hard and long. On every level, the winds are blowing, and I keep trying to trim my sails accordingly. Some days, I don't feel like a particularly skilled sailor, and yet on other days, my metaphorical sails fill with a snap, and I revel in the exhilirating sensations of soaring along propelled by forces outside myself.
There is something interesting and wonderful that happens when people really make the paradigm shift to seeing the dog, really seeing the dog, and to working with the relationship, autonomy, respect & trust truly uppermost as the guiding principles. First, the dogs respond, and respond well and quickly. Second, the handlers become sensitized to how people interact with dogs -- and they are surprised and dismayed to see that in some situations, the dog is being somewhat left out of the equation by trainers, vets, behaviorists and others.