Tag Archive | Intermediate Class

I’m Getting Smarter Every Day

Floey's award for successfully completing the Intermediate Class.

Floey’s award for successfully completing the Intermediate Class.

“Congratulations, Floey. You did it. You graduated from Intermediate Class at Dog’s Best Friend Training in Madison. I was surprised your teacher decided to award you your certificate, even though you will have to miss your last class. Apparently you learned everything you needed to know in five classes instead of six. Wow! I guess you’re pretty smart.”

Floey sitting smiling 07-06-15“Thanks, Mom. I knew I could learn all the stuff they wanted to teach us in class, but I learned a lot more, too.”

“What else did you learn, Floey?”

“The most important thing I learned is that there’s more than one RIGHT way of doing things. That’s something lots of dogs – and people, too – never learn.”

“Tell me more about that, Floey.”

“Well, some people and dogs communicate only with hand signals. They don’t use any words at all. At first I thought that was dumb. It’s fun to talk. But then I realized that sometimes there’s a good reason for it, like when you’re outside and a big noisy truck goes by. You can’t hear anything but an engine roaring. But a dog can still see a hand signal. I guess it really makes sense to learn both words and hand signals, so I made sure I learned both in class.”

“That seems like a good idea. I’ll try to remember to use both words and hand signals when I want to tell you something.”

dog walking - multiples“That’s OK, Mom. It’s not necessary, but it’s nice. Another example of different RIGHT ways of doing things is that some dogs heel on the right side of their person. I always thought dogs had to heel on the person’s left side. But the teacher said either way was RIGHT. At first I was skeptical. I thought the teacher was being too easy on the dogs that were heeling on the WRONG side. But I went and talked to one of the dogs who was heeling on the WRONG side, to politely tell him he was doing it WRONG, and he politely told me to mind my own business and listen to the teacher. I didn’t particularly like that dog.”

“I know which dog you mean. I didn’t particularly like his person either. Fortunately, they seemed to like each other.”

“Yeah. I really liked most of the dogs and people in this class, and I especially liked the teacher. She had so many good ideas, and she encouraged us to pick and choose the ideas that appealed to each of us the most. Boy, is she open-minded.”

“You know, Floey, I just read something about a week ago in Joan Chittister’s pamphlet, The Monastic Way. She said,

It takes humility to accept the fact that there may be other equally good ways to do things than the way we ourselves have always done them. It’s amazing how small our lives can really become. And at our own hand.

“Chittister may be on to something, Floey.”

“That’s right, Mom. That’s one of the big things I learned in this class. My way of doing things is usually the RIGHT way. But another dog’s way of doing things – even if it’s different from my way – can be the RIGHT way, too. There’s not just one RIGHT way to do something. It’s not a black and white world. It’s much more colorful than that!”

“I agree. I wish that’s something everyone would learn – people as well as dogs. Maybe the best way to teach the rest of the world is to try to practice open-mindedness as much as we can ourselves. Not everyone gets to go to a class like you did to learn that there’s always more than one RIGHT way to do something.”

“Sounds good to me. Now, do I have any more classes to take, or have I learned everything?”

“Hmm. I’ll have to think about that.”

Floey-Marian faces selfie

Floey and me thinking really hard about future educational goals.

Another Talk with My Friend Floey

Floeys Face 2

Floey

“Hey, Floey. What did you think about your new class last week?”

Floey grinned at me and replied, “I loved it! When you first told me I would be going to another class, I really wondered why. I passed my class last winter with flying colors. I couldn’t imagine why you thought I needed to go to another class. I’ve learned everything I need to know.”

I laughed a little, then said, “You’ve learned a lot in the seven months you’ve been part of our family, and that’s on top of all you learned in the first ten months of your life. But, you know, there’s always something more to learn.”

Floey sitting - profile“Boy, did I find that out in class last week! The two instructors had a little list of things we’ll learn over the six-week Intermediate Class. That’s no big deal. Although I’m not so sure I want to learn the “Go to mat” command. We’ll see about that one. At home I really need to go to the door whenever the doorbell rings to be sure it’s safe for you to let the visitor in. I need to protect you. I can’t do that if I’m sitting on a mat away from the door. But there are so many other things to learn in class besides what’s on the list. Did you see all those other dogs, Mom?”

“Yup, there were about a dozen, and they were all different kinds.”

“Most of them were about my size, or a little bigger, but there were a couple cute little white ones, and a great big German shepherd and another big dog with a hound dog face. Did you see the dog who said his mother was a dachshund but he had no idea who his father was? I bet his dad was a big, stocky beagle. He was really smart. The instructor asked him to help her demonstrate some of the things she was trying to teach us.”

“And, Floey, did you notice the dog to our left in the circle? She looked a lot like Abbey, your late sister. She was the same size and color, and her face was very similar – a very sweet dog.”

“Yeah, I did. And the dog on our right was really friendly. I liked her a lot. My goal for next week is to learn the names of all the dogs in class. And, I want to make friends with as many of them as I can.”

“That’s sounds like a good goal, as long as you learn the items listed on the curriculum, too.”

Floey-Marian faces selfie 2“Oh, Mom, that’s not the important stuff. I’ll learn that, too. But the really important stuff is to learn what I can from everyone else in class, and from all the surroundings. Do you have any idea how many things there are to sniff inside that building, and outside, too?  And during break time, I bet that German shepherd can tell me a lot about what it feels like to be the biggest, bravest dog in the world. And I’m sure the little white dogs can tell me all about the importance of having a big bark. I can hardly wait to go back to class again tonight.”

“Well, Floey, I’m so glad you like going to class and learning new things. I think I can learn a lot from your enthusiasm. And your curiosity. And your positive attitude. And your loving kindness… I’ve already learned a lot from you, Floey.”

“I guess we’re good for each other, Mom.”

“Yup, we are. I just read something about that in Joan Chittister’s pamphlet, “The Monastic Way.” On June 23 she wrote:

The relationship between humans and animals is necessary – not for the animal but for our own sense of kinship with nature and the full human development. Anatole France writes, “Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

“But, Mom, that says ‘animal’ not ‘dog.’ Do you think that applies to cats, and birds, and goldfish? Certainly those creatures aren’t as significant as us dogs in awakening human souls.”

Mim with kittens

Mim and her kittens – a few years back

“Oh, I don’t know, Floey. Your other Mom, Mim, didn’t really know or love any dog until your big sister Megabtye came along in 1990. Mim was already 42 years old by the time Meg came into her life.  But her soul was awakened to the wonders of God’s creation through cats when she was just a little girl. Her mother Selma had her life enriched deeply when she was 83 years old and living with us after suffering a stroke, and a tiny kitten with a broken leg crawled into her life. Dogs are a really special part of God’s creation, but so are cats.”

Love in action: Mim's mom, Selma, caring for a stray kitten that had been dropped off at the farm.

Love in action: Mim’s mom, Selma, caring for a stray kitten that had been dropped off at the farm.

“Hmm. I’ll have to think about that. Are squirrels and goldfinches good for developing our souls, too?

“Haven’t you ever watched some teenage squirrels chase each other up and down trees? They are having so much fun, I wish I could join them in the chase.”

Monastic Way 06-15“Me, too. But you always hold me back from chasing them.”

“My soul finds delight in just watching their playfulness. Yours can, too.  And just listen to goldfinches singing. They are so happy it’s contagious. I think they’re praising God with their songs.”

“I can sing, too, Mom. Ann calls it yodeling. I have a beautiful voice and a wide range.”

“Yes, you do, Floey. God gave different gifts to every being in creation. That’s why it’s so good for all of us to be friends with each other. I think that’s what Joan Chittister was talking about.”

“Well, I really like what she quoted Anatole France as saying, ‘Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”  Let me awaken your soul some more, Mom. Let’s go for a walk and watch squirrels, listen to goldfinches, and see whatever else nudges our souls.”

“Great idea! God gave us another beautiful day. Let’s enjoy it!”