Dog Wants Treat Talk Before Sweet Talk
There used to be a wonderful pet store, privately owned, very progressive, focused on natural food and remedies, in an area north of Albany. I gave a talk there one night after the store closed. There were about a dozen people, and we put our folding chairs in an oblong in front of the massive counter, one end at which were several large bins of loose treats. So, I did my talk, which is about an hour and a half, then it was time for the demonstration.
A man had brought his beautiful golden retriever, and he had a pressing question: how did she feel about the food he was feeding her?
I asked her, and what she showed me was unusual. She showed me a large bowl of brightly colored puffs, each the size of golf balls. Remember Trix? For kids, silly rabbit? They were like that, only much bigger and brighter. I asked the man if he ever fed her anything like that, and he said no, he’d never even heard of that. I asked her several more times and kept getting the same picture.
Both the man and I were starting to get uncomfortable because he wasn’t getting his question answered, and I because I was beginning to think that I was bombing.
All of a sudden a young woman sitting at the far end of our oblong gets up and reaches for one of the treat bins, which were right next to where she was sitting. She takes off the lid and holds it up to the group, saying, “before we started she was staring at this for about five minutes.”
Inside the bin were a couple of pounds of brightly colored puffs, the size of golf balls. Despite how many times I asked her about her food, she was still thinking about those treats! Trix are for dogs, silly person.
Sometimes people will say to me, “Tell my dog to do so and so,” or “tell my cat not to do such and such.” I try to resist the urge to be a smart aleck, but I usually find some teasing way to reply,” If she doesn’t listen to you, what makes you think she’ll listen to me? I don’t even know her!” That gives me the opportunity to explain to them that animal communication is not about telling animals what to do. Like all effective communication, communicating with animals is about listening, seeing things through their eyes, and reaching understanding.