Soft animal

I’m not a Mary Oliver fan, but I do love one line:

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

I like how the line is kind of romantic and fuzzy, and if you don’t think about it too much, it’s very appealing.

Anyhow, the line came to mind this morning as Tyler ate his carrot and listened to Vedic chants while I did yoga.

I remembered our second puppy class, and how the teacher kind of sniffed at me when it was revealed that I was using some of his regular high-end kibble for “treats” when he obeyed.

The other people were using shiny packaged dog treats.

Okay, so Tyler did a few rounds of each thing he was taught, then wasn’t motivated any more. In anticipation of the next class, I asked The Cop to pick up some doggie treats at the supermarket. This Sunday, I was armed with these treats that look like bacon.

Got to class, started going over all the obedience cues. Tyler did a few, then lost interest. Basically, he likes learning the new thing he’s supposed to do, does it a few times, then wants to see what Teddy the Yorkie is up to.

Teddy now lies down and rolls over whenever he meets up with Tyler. The teacher looked kind of stern and then pointed out that Teddy is being submissive to Tyler. Because of Tyler’s breed. Tyler, of course, is three and a half months old and totally clueless about his apparent dominance. He just wants to play. Which he does by leaning down and biting Teddy’s fuzzy face. Gently. Still, teacher doesn’t like it.

I try to tempt Tyler away from the Teddy toy, with fake bacon. He’s being polite when he returns to me; it’s not really about the bacon. He is indifferent.

Teacher comes by and gives Tyler a little test. Will he come/sit/stay? Yup. Like a champ. Not because of the food, but because he LOVES interacting with people.

She tells me I need to give him treats he really likes. Meaning junkier stuff than the fake bacon, I guess. I am suddenly highly aware of the culture of our household. Think to myself, “We don’t eat like that…” It will sound elitist if I say it out loud, so I don’t. Tyler thinks yummy dog treats are apple slices and bits of frozen banana. A taste of avocado or a piece of zucchini. Why would I give an animal body junk food? I’m hating the fake bacon.

She can see that I am somehow confused about this, even though I didn’t say anything. Suggests all-beef hot dogs. Okay, that makes a little more sense.

I’m loving training Tyler. We go outside in the quiet morning and do obedience training. I like watching his eyes as he understands what I’m trying to communicate to him. He catches on quickly and likes to do the right thing. Very dear. And yes, the patio training sessions are much different from training in the noisy pet store with junk food treats. Both are good for him to experience, I keep telling myself.

Still, I admit to a preference for the home culture. I am reading an obedience training book by the monks of New Skete. Love it, love it, love it.

I wonder how Ty would feel about Gregorian chants…

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4 Responses

  1. Very dear, indeed..

  2. That is so sweet… that Tyler has a healthy treat desire over junk! You know, my kitty- Henry, came to me with an established diet. I tried giving him all the high end, fancy schmancy kitty food to keep him healthy and alive forever and ever, but he turned his nose up at it. I tried so many brands that I could have saved the money and taken a short vacation, but nothing worked. Finally I caved and gave him Meow Mix. I know, it’s shameful. He’s quite satisfied, though. The special pet store in town, where they do not allow such low-brow foods, suggested that Henry may just like junk food. ha!
    So… Tyler is in great hands! I’m glad he’s not running with the fake bacon crowd.
    -Liz

  3. Meow Mix is the best food packaging ever. It looks so cheerful.

    I had a cat, Michael, who only ate Meow Mix. He lived to be 20.

  4. Yes, good training book! I also love Good Owners, Great Dogs. That’s the book I used to train my two brats. They are spoiled (emotionally, if that makes sense) but they are VERY well trained. Continuous training is so good for the ‘dominant’ breeds (although I must say I’ve never met an overly ‘dominant’ American Bulldog; I have, however, met ‘dominant’ smaller dogs who were awful). And I don’t feed the pups junk food either. People think I’m insane but I just don’t care. Other than the fatty pug’s weight problem (he loves to finish Rocky’s food), they are pretty healthy for their breed. I shudder at stuff like Snausages and Alpo. No pictures from puppy training??? 🙂

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