Excuses Excuses Excuses

I was at a dog fun day event recently where I overheard a mother and son reading a sign I had outside my stall. The woman was reading the list of symptoms on the sign out loud and when she had finished she said to her son “our dog has most of these, maybe I should bring him to see this person” to which the son says “nah, the dogs just lazy”. This comment from the son was the final catalyst to prompt me to put into writing some things that I have been saying to clients for about 20 years.

I know that the experts say that we shouldn’t humanize our companion animals, BUT this is where the perception of behaviour is important. Health begets behaviour, Health effects personality, Health impedes form and function. When we are unwell, we are less likely to be wanting to do things such as work, sports, hobbies, etc, our behaviour is not our normal, there are changes in our mood as able to do the things we need or would like to do. Our bodies compensate for our health issues which leads to  discomfort and wear and tear else where in the body. This is Cause and Effect and IT IS THE SAME FOR OUR COMPANION ANIMALS, whether, sporting, working or not.

Laziness is an excuse
Temperament change is an excuse
Reluctance to perform is an excuse
Fear aggression is an excuse
Noise phobia is an excuse
Stress is an excuse
Over reaction is an excuse
Lethargy is an excuse
Needs more training is an excuse
Another animal frightened mine
They had a bad experience here before is an excuse
The wind is upsetting my animal is an excuse
He doesn’t like ……. Is an excuse

It is about perception, The above ARE NOT EXCUSES, but are used as such by people to justify their animals failure at its task or for its ill behaviour, when in actual fact they ARE SYMPTOMS first and foremost of an underlying health issue.

Any behavioural/temperament, fight or flight, passive or aggression ( other than  being trained to fight or be aggressive) is all to often an instinctive genetic default for self preservation. It is hard wired in the DNA to respond accordingly to protect oneself from any given circumstance. It’s about being in tune with your animal and understanding and respecting the real reason for non-compliance or ill behaviour from them.

The INSTINCT of self preservation, fight or flight was confirmed to me in 2010 when I had the opportunity to walk amongst the wolves at Wolf Park in Battleground Indiana. Half way through the afternoon one of the cameramen had positioned himself in a crouch position to take a photo when the wolf moved slightly, the cameraman moved to reposition while still in the crouch and stumbled on a tussock. The wolves hastily retreated to a safe distance of about 30-40 metres and stood there warily watching and evaluating as to what would be the next best move and after 10 minutes when they decided all was safe and slowly returned to intermingle with us.

The next opportunity when the lesson of instinctual self preservation was displayed to me was in 2012 with Kim Kamastra of Raptors Ridge in Maple Ridge, Vancouver BC when I got to handle an owl, a Peregren and a Harris Hawk. It was interesting to note a couple of these instincts as they unfolded. The first was I noticed the hawk on my glove looking skywards with intent, I looked myself and couldn’t see anything. For 5 minutes the hawk kept looking as did I and finally another raptor at 1000+ feet arrived, circled a couple of times and flew off as it realized that the hawk on my hand was of danger to it.

The second thing I noticed after putting all the raptors away after a couple of  hours of interaction it took more than 10 minutes for the other wild life to come back to being vocal. 

My point being that even though we and our companion animals are domesticated we all default back to our unconscious instinctual self preservation behaviour in every event and no amount of training can or will change this and this we must accept as our animals are meant to be consciously aware of their surroundings at all times for survival.