What’s it all about, Alfie?

When Caitlin was little, she liked to use me as her personal jungle-gym. She still loves to sit on my lap and cuddle, but lately I’ve been telling her she’s getting too big and the weight of her is starting to hurt my legs. I make her sit next to me instead.

When Kiera was little, she liked to lean against me, and use my feet as her personal head-rest. As she’s grown, she’s gotten into the habit of lying on my feet whenever they stop moving. Lately, I’ve been telling her to move, especially when I’m trying to work in the kitchen and she’s right underfoot. I worry about accidentally stepping on her.

When Graidy wants to love me up, he […]

By |August 23rd, 2006|Life|1 Comment

Aha Training Moment with the Help of Visualization

When I’m training, I’m always thinking about why Kiera does or doesn’t do what she does. I’m always trying to see if I can understand it from where she is and go from there. For example, once upon a time, I wasn’t having any luck getting Kiera to remain calm when people came over to our house. Whenever someone would arrive, Kiera would go into overdrive to make sure everyone in the house was safe for posterity. I’d tried the “go to your place”, having visitors throw treats, yadda, yadda, yadda. No real reliable improvement. I was thinking that I was just going to have to always manage the situation. I don’t know what made me try the visualization approach, […]

By |August 22nd, 2006|.My Dogs and Me, Dog Training|1 Comment

10 Great Reasons to Have a Dog

Yesterday, I had the good fun of speaking with a terrific group of kids who were spending their week at Mahogany Ridge KidsCamp. It’s a camp where kids and their dogs get to play and learn together. Theresa Richmond, the camp director and trainer, (whom some of you may remember from Dogs of Dreamtime) invited me to give a talk on what it’s like to write about dogs.

As with training dogs, writing about dogs is best learned by doing. So the kids worked on an article together entitled “10 Great Reasons to Have a Dog.” First, each child wrote down their reasons, and then we added up how many of those sentiments were shared by others.

What follows is the tally […]

By |August 17th, 2006|Dogs in General, On Writing|65 Comments

Kiera’s Herding Instinct Test

One morning, as I watched Kiera and Graidy zooming around the backyard together, it struck me how much of Kiera’s play was really herding behavior. Graidy would float around the yard like a piece of newspaper blowing in the wind– fluttering this way and that, skipping and hopping, twisting and twirling. Kiera would conserve her energy as long as Graidy stayed within a certain range. She’d stay in a semi-crouch position with neck stretched out and down, watching. Once he’d move outside Kiera’s invisible boundaries, she’d spring into action and dash after him to round him up. He’d zig and zag trying to shake her loose, but she was unshakeable, flanking him within inches the whole time, persistently herding him […]

By |August 16th, 2006|.My Dogs and Me, Dog Training|0 Comments

Going Convertible

Funny the memories that stick with you from childhood… This one’s been tucked away since I was a little girl. I’m riding in the back seat of a convertible. My hair is flying back and whipping around, slapping my face. The concussion of the wind makes my eyes squint and water, and tickles my eardrums. I can’t see the car, or even who’s driving. And I have no recollection of where we went. I do remember the feeling of the smile on my face and the sensation of being filled to bursting with sheer exhilaration.

Fast forward about forty years.

Being the safety-conscious nut that I’ve become, I’ve never owned a convertible. My nod to the joy of wind has been Sun […]

By |August 15th, 2006|.Cait and Me|0 Comments

The other context for “Finding Kiera”

From the Mail Bag: M.M. wrote, I experienced your search for Kiera as very single-minded and focused–bordering on obsessive (and definitely annoying to me). It seemed to me that you were too caught up in “looking for something to fill a need (for Kiera) rather than for someone to help.”

Dear M.M.: I can see why you’d view my search for Kiera that way, but let me anthropomorphize for a minute to better illustrate how I experienced it. Let’s say you had a child leave home for parts unknown (Kiera’s death) and you thought you’d never see that child again. Then, one day, that child calls you up on the phone (in this case, as you know, the call is the […]

By |August 14th, 2006|.My Dogs and Me, The Mail Bag|0 Comments
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