THOUGHTS

there doesn’t seem to be a correlation …?

I’ve had the funniest morning. Not necessarily ‘hahaha’ funny, maybe, but more of a curious and curiouser kind of morning.

While I was out and about doing errands I found myself in a conversation with someone. It was light and airy, nothing too deep. My training business logo is pretty much on every jacket and sweater I own, but since they have been there for nearly 10 years, sometimes I forget that I’m branded.

Paws and People logoThis person pointed to my logo and said, “boy I bet they get a lot of yoga people for clients”. Without explaining that this was in fact my business, I simply said “huh, why do you think that?” And without even stumbling for words, which I think I would have done if I were in the other persons shoes, “well you know, it’s all that touchy stuff, all about the body and meditating and being nice, no meat, save the dolphins, ride your bicycle, recycling, being nice to the planet stuff. And if you are giving dogs treats and talking about their feelings, and being nicer, and don’t raise your voice, which is what that business does, WELL, it’s pretty much the same thing.”

I did laugh, audibly, maybe a bit too much actually. I had no response, none. How do you do a quick and witty come back to something so similar to a SNL skit. Every generalization, and assumption in the book, yet no correlation, and this person took them self pretty seriously, factually even. Has the human race peaked, or was I meant to stumble upon this person?

So through the rest of the morning I have been thinking, a great deal, about how people treat their animals, and does it in fact dictate, correlate, with their life style?

I don’t think it does, at all. I truly believe it is the core of the person, the character, the moral compass with in. Whether we are born with this knowingness or learn from those around us, I don’t know. The outward lifestyle, in my experience does not translate into how someone will treat an animal.

I’ve had  tattooed, motorcycle mechanics, with a huge beards come in with their sweet little puppies, bags full of treats, and train with complete devotion and tenderness.

Men and women handlers/cowboys. Dirt, jeans, scruff, huge trucks, ropes, sometimes guns. Bulls and rams that need to be moved, and they work with grace, and understanding and efficiency. And they sometimes worship and stand in awe of their dogs and their abilities.

I’ve watched teenage handlers, braces, pigtails, nice button down shirts, hang their dogs on pinch collars to get them to sit.

I’ve had 20 something year old boys, who are into the cool, fast, and adventurous life style, take the time to train their puppy with kindness and love. Even buying a cute pink harness.

I’ve had yoga instructors come to train with me who think nothing of slapping on an electric shock collar on their dog when running off leash on trails.

I’ve seen scotch drinking Grandpa’s train their little dogs with such love, patience, and acceptance of mistakes. And I’ve seen sweet apron wearing Grannies chuck their dogs across a room when a down wasn’t perfect enough.

I’ve experienced Mom’s of young children who are devoted to parenting, being there for every moment, and providing an enriched environment, move their dogs to the yard because they can’t be bothered. Move as in, never in the house again.

I’ve watched organic gardeners who reuse, recycle, and renew for the earth, put their dogs in small pens with electric fencing all the way around, and feed them food with no more nutritional value than a leather boot.

I have stood behind people at COSTCO with a shopping basket filled with every organic product in the store for humans, and on the bottom of the shopping cart is a giant bag of cheap crappy dog food, and a bag of chemically laden rawhide chews. Just because someone is doing right for the humans in the family, does not mean they know anything about dog health or nutrition.

There is no correlation that I have found between someones chosen life style, appearance, or health choices, and how they treat animals.

As for me, I’m most certainly not a perfect person, and I don’t think I would fit a persons ‘description’ of what a reward based trainer should look or act like. So if you should run into someone with a jacket with our logo on it, it might be me. I’m tall, sturdy, and direct. I drink wine, I laugh from deep inside, and I dress semi homeless when I’m working. I enjoy people from all walks of life, I have opinions, and I read a lot. I like jokes that are outside of politically correct. I eat healthy food, and I eat fast food french fries because they rock! I love dog sports and training for the highest level of competition. And I treat animals with respect and kindness … from deep inside of me, because that is where the feeling comes from.

Cheers, Nancy

14 comments

  1. …and may I add, the beauty of Nancy Tanner is that she indeed WALKS THE TALK! I certainly see why that encounter seemed “wonky”. Sometimes you must just stand in stunned silence, turn, walk away, smile and know you are true to you. I can’t remember who I talked to recently maybe it was you – the thing that makes Paws and People what it is, is YOU! Keep being that person….

  2. I love this post! This is sooo true! My fiance is an autobody painter. He is a blue collar, salt of the earth man’s man. He is a gun owning, deeply conservative Christian. He smokes and drinks and loves nothing more than fast cars and mud-soaked Jeeps. He thinks that organic food is a scam and his idea of dieting is eating PB&J sandwiches 3 times a day. The first time I told him that I was going to have a positive reinforcement trainer come to work with our rescue, he told me that he didn’t want any of that “Left wing hippy bullshit”. It took two sessions before he threw out the choke chain. Last week at our rehab session with our new rescue, our trainer actually told him that he was feeding our rescue too much. How you train your dog has nothing to do with your lifestyle. Why do we do it? Because, despite the stereotypes we like to put on everything, my fiance is a very intelligent guy and he knows that how we train our dogs works, plain and simple. But I think what you’re saying is very relevant. I think some people may be afraid that changing the way they train their dog is going to say something contrary to what they believe in. I just hope that someday we can get around that label.

    1. ‘left wing hippie bullshit…” oh my, your post cracks me up, I am still laughing. I think what you have is a man with a very kind heart, no matter how it is wrapped, the core is true… Lucky you, lucky for your rescues too.

    2. Yup, those insides aren’t always what seems to show on the outsides. Your comment made me laugh out loud. You have a keeper in that man!

  3. I agree entirely with everything you said, with one addition. While lifestyle does not directly correlate to how one treats animals, how one treats animals can have a direct impact on lifestyle. Learning how to handle a dog properly, or learning the principles of good horsemanship, can truly inform how one interacts with the world and with other humans. Buck Brannaman, in speaking of horsemanship, emphasizes that it’s a way of life, and that you can’t be a bad guy when you get to the barn and a good guy when you leave it. And on the point of nutrition, I know that I didn’t pay near as much attention to my personal nutrition before I started noticing the impact it has on my dogs and adjusting their diets to higher quality foods. So, while it’s possible to fail to make the connection between who you are as a person and how you treat your animals, I think that once you start to understand *proper* animal management, many aspects of who you are as a person get thrown into focus. As you discipline yourself with your dogs and horses, you find yourself more disciplined in other areas of your life.

    1. Nance, I agree completely. It takes a person who ‘wants’ and is open to learning from our animals, in order for this change to happen… How many people do you know that got a dog for a pet, and then bought a farm and stock because their dog led them down that path. hmmm 😉 Animals can be enlightening and life changing, if one allows it to happen!

  4. I read your “thoughts” with interest and a bit of amusement (due to the descriptions of the characters that you encounter). It led me to think about the number of dog and horse trainers that I have dealt with and have similar perceptions about, as you have with the public. In the last classes that I attended, the training was ultra positive to the point that I was afraid that if I turned the wrong way while my puppy was on leash that I would be guilty of yanking on the leash, thrown out the door, banished from ever returning and clearly my tuition would not be refunded. And yet, they were never positive to me, never showed me any modeling of having a loving relationship with a dog or any kind of human kindness to animal or human. They also never showed any knowledge that what the dog eats might affect his behavior and arousal level and were sure that teething wouldn’t cause enough pain to miss a class. ( My vet finally saw that my puppy is extremely sensitive to pain.) They are judgemental and critical . In different dog training DVD’s, I see trainers who have excellent technique and yet there is no relationship between the dog and owner. I have recently seen one where the trainer says if we are going to be positive with our dogs, let’s be positive with the people, too. This has been a first for me, and I celebrate this! It’s all about raising awareness which can be a difficult thing to do with close minded people and yet we must continue to do this. For myself, I will continue to try to learn to be open in my learning as well as my encounters with people whose awareness needs to be raised. I struggle more with how to say things to people whose awareness is low but I will keep on doing my best.

    As far as dog trainers go, I kept on searching till I ran into you, Nancy, on-line. I wish that we lived a few states closer to each other so I could have closer access but I am “stoked” that I found you and my puppy is a much happier guy!

    1. Marcia, it is true not all positive trainers are positive to people, and not all positive trainers are ethical human beings. I think it is being able to believe what you are teaching, but also live that way. Sometimes trainers happen to be raised like that so it is easy and no transition necessary. ANd other times when a person decides to become a positive trainer they go on the HUGE learning curve to learn how to be more like what they are teaching.

      I am glad, even from a distance, that what I have to offer has helped you and your puppy in some way! Cheers to you, Nancy

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