Published by Bark Eurich
Copyright 2016 Bark Eurich
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A request from an old friend
My name is Bark, and now that I finally have your attention, please allow me to introduce you to yourself.
I have been waiting for a long time to talk with you my friend, and now for the sake of both of us, will you please tell me where are you going, and who have you let yourself become?
I see the crossroads before you and I know that you are lost, you are reaching out but don’t know where to turn, I just don’t understand after all that we have been through together, why you have never turned to me?
I know our world is very different from when it all began for us, but the changes that concern me the most are those I see in you.
Even though you know fighting nature is a fight that you’ll never win, each day you continue to fight your own so vehemently, and then wonder why I don’t believe in you anymore.
You live in your plastic world chasing plastic dreams and run from plastic fears whilst forgetting that without me you were once the hunted, that without me you owned real fears, you forget that without me what you now call civilization may have never even begun, and you forget that without me, even today, you would still be lost in the dark.
I have been there looking out for you from the very start, you are the centre of my world, I would die before seeing you hurt, my only agenda is for your soulful happiness, and in all the time you have known me I have never once lied to you.
So I implore you, before you make another wrong turn, before you go any further down your crazy road, please first stop for long enough to hear some advice from an old friend, let him help you find your true path again, and where ever that path may lead, you will have found a very different way to walk it.
So here we are just you and me, stood at your crossroads with you confused enough that you are now looking to a dog for direction, but, as we are both here, and as you have clearly forgotten who you are, I feel it is only right that I remind you of a few things about me, your best mate, who I am and how I think, before I waste our time asking you to listen to any advice or expect you to hear any of the home truths that are coming your way from me.
The number one thing that separates the two of us is my inability to lie, so you need to prepare yourself for this honour, as this simple often annoying truth lays at the very heart of the journey that you and I have now embarked upon together.
Before thinking about where we are going, it is best if we get to grips with where we are right now, first. However, before we even go there, I just want to quickly thank you for putting the world down for long enough to listen to me. It always amazes me how something so overwhelmingly big still spins whether you’re holding on to it or not, which is maybe something you might want to keep in mind whilst you are on this long walk of ours.
Walking by the way, is how we are going to get where we have to go, as I have found it to be a sensible alternative once you have become tired of running, and I also know that by walking with me by your side, as your guide, you will without doubt come to find what you have spent your whole life searching for.
Although I am aware that this special opportunity may be the only chance I ever get to say what I have to say to you, I am also painfully aware that it is you, your very unique and wonderful self, whom I am trying to talk to, so please, before I start barking at you, forgive me if I struggle a little as to know quite how or where to start.
In order for you to give both of us a better life there are some fundamentals that you really must now come to terms with.
Firstly, and probably most importantly, I need you to understand that even though I am demanding that you change, this is not some kind of personal attack on you by me, your best mate, the supposedly less intelligent of the two of us.
Who by the way, unlike you never lies about who they are, unlike you always means what they say, unlike you is instinctively and rightfully proud of who they are, unlike you doesn’t care what the rest of the playground thinks about them, unlike you will never apologise for who they are or how they think, unlike you they are not afraid to trust, unlike you they demand respect before they’ll love you, unlike you they will never willingly follow a fool, unlike you they can see a lie before it is spoken, unlike you, they see you for who you really are, and strangely enough, unlike you they are not lost.
Unlike me, some, of the spiritual giants who have up until now taught you how to be you, haven’t always had your best interests at heart, unlike me some are happy for you to feel bad about yourself, unlike me some fear your inner strength, unlike me not all of your tutors want to see you walk tall, and unlike me their words rarely ever came with the full backing of Mother Nature.
However, before I ask you to come any further with me on your journey I should share a cautionary word with you.
This journey is one way, by the end of which much about you will have changed, much of how you see the world will have changed too. The language you are about to learn will become more to you than just the way you talk.
I will be the first to see the changes in you, but I will not be the last, and this my friend is when the tide for you will begin to turn, and after, unlike so many others, I will still be there walking proudly by your side.
I appreciate that you may already have full and complicated lives, with a million and one ever changing rules to follow, appearances to keep up, deadlines to meet and names to live up to, so I understand completely if you feel my barking on about nature and our evolutionary history has little or nothing to do with you yourself personally, especially today here amongst the hustle and bustle of the twenty first century.
I am also very aware of course that not all humans like dogs, indeed some of you have as much contempt for me as you do for each other. To this I will only say that the reality is I am not actually asking you to learn about me, I am in fact suggesting that you kindly wake up and learn about you.
The nineteen of you that I will hospitalise today will have been reminded of what can happen to you when you think yourself above nature, as indeed will the nineteen of you tomorrow.
Six hundred people are bitten or attacked by dogs every single day here in Britain. Looking at the most common offenders by breed alone, you’ll find the most aggressive dog amongst you is none other than the little sausage himself the Dachshund, hot on his tail in second place is the mighty Chihuahua, and in third but not least place is your old friend Mr Jack Russell.
To illustrate just how much, you, the humans, influence the behaviour of your dogs, I would like if I may to introduce a little guy to you, who recently became a good friend of mine.
Alfie, is a half Chihuahua half Jack Russell two year old little fellow, whom I hope can now not only give you a different perspective into some of those six hundred daily attacks, but also prove that the unwanted behaviour in dogs rarely has anything to do with their breed, and more often than not, has everything to do with their owner.
Alfie the Terrible
When I met Alfie, he was getting himself into all sorts of trouble. Even though this little guy can’t weigh much more than a bag of sugar, pretty much everyone who knew him was afraid of him, his devoted and loving owners were quietly at their wits end over his anti-social behaviour, especially regarding his actions and attitude towards their grandchildren, and with very good reason.
Walking Alfie on a lead was at best a difficult experience for anyone who tried, and simple daily tasks such as ironing became a major event if Alfie had anything to do with it. Alfie didn’t like people ironing, the moment anybody went near the ironing board Alfie would attack it, relentlessly barking, lunging and biting at it, making it impossible for anybody to use it with Alfie still being in the same room.
He felt the same way about the toaster too, and the oven, the vacuum cleaner, the front door, the fridge door, the washing machine, hair dryers, Grandfathers walking stick whenever the Grandfather tried to walk anywhere, any dog or stranger that came near the family home, the grandchildren’s toys, and sadly if he got the chance, even the children.
I believe the reality is that if Alfie had been born a Rottweiler the police or a vet would have put an end to his unwanted behaviour long before I would ever have had the chance to communicate with him.
Alfie has been responsible for more bites and attacks on people than his owners dare remember, he became the snappy little monster everyone loathed and feared, the pain in the backside dog that had to be locked away whenever children were around.
However, when I met Alfie he was eager to prove, and now continues to prove day by day to everyone around him, that in fact he is anything but an aggressive dog, further still, he never has been an aggressive dog, in reality he’s maybe closer to the absolute opposite of everything I was told he was.
There is no such thing as a dog that won’t walk properly on a lead for its owner, only owners that maybe shouldn’t own dogs
The world saw Alfie as a dominant over confident alpha type dog intent on having absolutely everything his own way, but the truth is this gentle actually quite nervous little guy is not aggressive by nature, he is in fact a quite timid little softy who was simply cracking under the pressure of the responsibilities he believed he was carrying. Pressures of course that had unwittingly been placed there by his unaware owners.
After meeting with Alfie and his owners, those same grandchildren now no longer have to run and hide on table tops to get away from him, in fact Alfie is more than happy just to curl up and sleep peacefully in his bed, whilst those not quite so peaceful grandchildren run riot with their toys within the same room.
His owners no longer go into a siege mentality driven blind panic should someone unexpectedly knock on their front door, and Grandfather can now walk about his home freely without having to play tug of war with someone over his walking stick.
There are negatives however that come home to roost when humans take the time to understand and respect their best friend, even if that negative is that the ironing will never be quite as much fun as it used to be, now that a certain somebody understands his place within the home and has since lost all interest in the board.
The cause of Alfie’s stress, which lead to his unwanted behaviour has gone, the impossible work load that this little fellow felt he’d been burdened with has been taken away from him, he now understands and relishes in the fact that he is no longer responsible for everything and everyone, indeed, for the first time in his life he knows the only thing he has to be in control of now, is himself.
Let There Be Light
Nobody had to sell their soul for peace to return to Alfie’s home, no big sticks were waved, no gadgets or pharmaceuticals were used, we didn’t have to attend a military style boot camp, nor did we sit around holding hands chanting, and nobody had to sign up to a membership fee.
Alfie’s story is just a simple example of the positive empowering rewards humans experience if they care to put their egos their fears and the modern world down for long enough to experience their own rightful reconnection with nature.
By recognising the message that I bring, you will not only be honouring our ancestry and the spirit of the animal within you, but above all else you will be acknowledging and honouring someone that you most evidently have forgotten too much about, by someone I of course mean you.
As your friend, I suggest that if through your early years of development, you can find the time and resources, to learn vital and rewarding life skills such as Algebra, you have more than enough time to re-educate yourself about me, not just your most loyal friend but also your closest link with nature.
The sad truth is that I understood Alfie’s problem long before I actually met him, just as I do ninety nine percent of the time when an owner expresses that they have a problem with their dog, because I know they don’t, I know that what they actually have a problem with is both their attitude towards life and their belief in their own self.
Dogs come into this world perfect, they only get messed up by irresponsible or unknowing humans, all a dog can do is react to how crazy their human owner is.
By crazy I mean crazy as dogs understand crazy and by attitude I mean, for somebody whom claims to love me, please tell me when exactly have you ever honoured that love by taking the time to understand me?
Those of you who would have had Alfie euthanized because of his apparent anti-social behaviour, would have had him put to sleep without ever actually understanding who he was or why he did what he did, or more likely, how you yourself made him do what he did.
But then maybe you don’t care, maybe you are happy to remain ignorant about such things, happier to live in fear and be bitten six hundred times every day by the guys who you keep asking to bite you, whilst continuing to stick your head in the sand and kill the likes of Alfie by their thousands every year, here in what once used to pride itself as being a nation of dog lovers.
With just a little guidance for his owners, Alfie now continues to live a full and rewarding stress free life, and he returns this favour freely and readily by giving his owners the sort of companion they had always longed for.
Not only is Alfie a joy for them to take for a walk now but he is actually a calming influence within the home.
When the true colours of this apparent hell raiser who was seemingly responsible for all the previous mayhem within that same home, are revealed, we find a dog more Dali Lama than Sid Vicious, a true lap dog seeking gentle company and a quiet life and in fact not a land shark seeking a stream of victims.
By learning about me and re-engaging with nature you will learn much more than simply how to avoid being hurt by me.
I have walked by your side for countless millennia, I know you like no other, and if, for just once in your life you took the time to listen to your longest serving friend, I will reward you with the life tools and the confidence within yourself, to journey this life freely and whole heartedly, as none other than your true unquestionable unique and untainted self.
Turning Things Around
One day humans will stop blaming God
and take responsibility for their own actions.
And on that day they will probably
thank Dog for it.
Many thousands of years ago, all around the world, both man and wolf recognised the advantages of an alliance between our two species, a co-existence was born out of necessity and built on mutual respect and understanding.
A partnership that would in the fullness of time, change our world, unrecognisably for ever.
So strong has the bond between our two species been, that men have been buried alongside their wolf companions, for tens of thousands of years, long before the shores of the British Isles were even formed by the melting Ice Age.
Yet, here on these same islands, after ten thousand years of our continued and progressive cohabitation together, around six hundred people wilfully prove every day both that not all progress is good progress, and that you thinking that you are above nature will always be your undoing.
In ten thousand years you have gone from being partners in a brave new world working in unison with me your trusted companion by your side, to today’s insanity of twenty British children under the age of ten being hospitalised due to dog attacks every single week,
For the answer to this question and for the next part of your journey, I must take you further in to the mind of a dog. Whilst there you will come to see for yourself why my inability to tell a lie can be, and often is, the key in the door of your very own salvation.
You will see that the code that I live by cannot be bought or reasoned with, it will always win and will answer any question you may have of it, long before you have asked. Its origins not only pre-date humanity but will also out live it, and every day it is ready to remind you of just how stupid you let yourself become
Before we as a nation, or at least you as a people, stand any chance of bringing an end to the ridiculous number of people being attacked by dogs each day, some of you are going to have to change much about your own self.
From a dog that won’t sit on command, to a person being mauled to death, fundamentally the reason behind all canine behaviour problems is human.
Over seven thousand people were hospitalised last year, one in six of which were children under the age of ten, and at least two people have been killed by dogs in Britain each year over the past decade.
All, resulting from a combination of failings by humans, the most common being either or both a lack of respect or understanding of canines, a lack of respect or belief in their own self, combined with what now seems to have become the modern human’s prerequisite of ignorance or complete contempt for nature.
To overcome these problems, we must look at how these issues arise in the first place, and as you are a human, and we are now on the subject of the rehabilitation of behaviour problems, it is as well that I start at the very beginning, with a subject that not only seems to affect every single one of you, but more often than not, lays at the very heart of all canine attacks.
Your version and my version of it, are often poles apart.
How much you have or haven’t had, how confident you are of keeping what you do have, whether or not yours is real or enough, or even whether you feel you deserve any at all, will define who you are as a person, not just in your actions but in your very sense of being, I am of course talking about love.
Understandably, me talking about love may have come as a bit of a surprise to some of you, you may even feel disappointed or annoyed that I’m not getting straight to the point of explaining what exactly dogs are doing wrong now in the twenty first century, that they haven’t been doing for the past forty thousand years, regarding the initiation of the six hundred daily attacks.
The truth is, that this is exactly what I am hoping to point out, because if I was attempting to illustrate what dogs are doing wrong, this book would be a post card.
Bark’s Code is intended to shed a little insight into the mind of dogs, in the hope that through acceptance respect and better understanding, we can again create a greater harmony between our two species, and in doing so, we will put an end to a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering for the both of us.
Having identified humans as the cause of most if not all canine behaviour problems, we must then recognise what it is about the human that brings these problems to the fore. To do this we must look at the very heart of the matter, which surely, with you, has to be the heart.
However, if you think love doesn’t or hasn’t had an effect on how or who you are, or how you act in your day to day, please feel free to close this book and put it down, enjoy your beautiful life, but maybe just keep practicing counting up to six hundred.
For those of you still willing to hear my outrageous concept, that humans might just actually be overwhelmingly to blame for just about all unwanted canine behaviour, please allow me to explain just why and how this is, and in doing so, I can also introduce you to the beauty and power behind my lie detecting skills.
With those skills, I am likely to quickly expose you to yourself with an honesty that may at times feel more like a baton than a hug from a best mate, but for this I can only say, I am indeed your best mate, but unlike you, I can’t help how or who I am.
I will always be there
to question who you are,
I will do so every day of my life
until you know.
As complicated as you have let yourself become, as smart as you think you are, and as simple as you think I might be, I still know you better than you know your own self.
I know when things are right for you my friend and when they are not, I know you are unsure, off balance, afraid, nervous or angry, before you yourself have even realised it, I know you are pregnant before you do, I know you are about to have a fit or a hypo before you do, I even know you have cancer before you do, but above all else, and this is real the reason why my middle name is rehabilitation, I know when you are lying long before you do, or at least, long before you’d otherwise be willing to give up your Oscar.
Shut down mode as we all know is denying everything, showing no pain or emotion, and keeping everything inside, which is a great survival technique for an eight year old child, very useful as a boxer or a soldier, but a dumb road to go down should you ever want a girlfriend.
How you learn to survive, how you get by and how you make your way through your life has often been mapped out for you by the time you leave the education system.
In which time your balanced all-knowing rounded and grounded guardians, your peers, along with the media and the education system itself, have all taught you how to be you, taught you what to do in the pursuit of happiness, taught you what successful means, taught you how you should look and act to be accepted, told you what is right and what is wrong and what to be afraid of.
For a lot of humans, it usually takes another ten years or so of adulthood before they realise that, for much of their life they had been handsomely and wholeheartedly lied to, that the rounded perhaps weren’t actually quite so grounded after all, and that the hero status some had once convinced you of, maybe wasn’t as fitting as you’d believed it was all those years ago.
But then maybe the people that brought you into the world were just normal people doing their best at what they thought was the right thing to do at the time, and maybe as humans they had as much of a struggle coping with you and trying to make sense of life back then, as you yourself do today.
Maybe if they had known better they’d have done better by you, but the bottom line today as we stand here at your crossroads is, why does it still matter?
I can’t help what happened in your life that made you the way you are, I can’t help how you see the world or help what drives you to act the way that you do, the only thing I can do as a dog, is react to how you are being, and ultimately, how you are being and how you act, is down to nobody else but you.
Before getting too defensive over what I have just said, however much you didn’t like me pointing out that you happen to be the only person in the world responsible for your behaviour, and regardless of however many excuses you can dream up for acting otherwise, if I mean anything to you at all, you really do need to understand just how your actions affect our relationship.
As the lives of wolf and man became evermore entwined, the genetics of the wolf began to change from vulpine to canine. Usually within a pack of wolves only the alpha male and female get to breed, and to become the alpha male takes a little bit more than simply being born with a silver spoon in your mouth.
But now man, rather than nature was deciding which wolf got to breed and which one didn’t. The dominant aggressive gene was no longer the deciding factor within the natural breeding program of wolves, and when this happened, you, created dogs.
As hard as this may be to imagine, today the genetics of all dogs, from a little tea cup Chihuahua to a Great Dane, are all less than zero point two percent different to that of a wolf.
So no matter what breed shape sex or size your little canine friend happens to be, all of those minds behind all of those eyes, all descend from the same beast.
After being responsible for creating me, and then still further, after all this time, I shouldn’t really still have to point out to you that I descend from wolf, and that I am not, in any shape or form, a teddy bear, nor for that matter am I a child, or a cat, or the baby you never had, and for this I make absolutely no apology.
I am Dog, my ancestors were of course wolves, but, we’ve now been dogs for thousands of years, we’re proud to be dogs, we don’t want to be anything else, and even though we are very good at it, that’s is as much as we’re ever going to be.
Which by the way, some might suggest, is as much as we’ll ever need to be, therefore, we will only ever think, see, and act, as dogs do.
I know that even after ten thousand years many of you still can’t quite get to grips with the simple notion of me just being a dog, or the even simpler notion of exactly what a dog is.
But with around six hundred people proving every day that they haven’t got it yet, it would really help those interested in bringing about an end to Britain’s outrageous bite statistics, if you were to hurry up, and take this very simple fact on board.
Who Goes There?
When you come home late in the evening, you may well may feel after the day that you have just endured, that you’ve earned the right to slam the front door behind you, as you make your way to the fridge door in order to free yourself from the day.
You may believe that how you are thinking feeling and acting right at this time is of no importance to anyone, however, with me around, there is never a moment when your behaviour goes unnoticed, and further, there is never a moment when how you are behaving, isn’t important to me.
How you act and how you let yourself be, is of course who you are, and this is a very important thing to remember whenever you are in my company, that is of course, if you are expecting our relationship to be harmonious.
Something that you may at first consider to be a failing of mine, is my inability to rationalise. This means that the only thing I can conclude, when you come through that front door angry, is that you are angry.
There is absolutely no point expecting me to understand why you are angry, who it was who spoilt your day, who you allowed to let you down again, and allowing being let down again by the person you knew was going to let you down again to piss you off, I don’t care who it was that you said yes to again, when you meant to say no…… again. In fact, I don’t have a clue or a care about any of the stuff that you choose to bring home with you, I could never understand this even if it was possible for you to explain it to me, the only thing I can know one hundred percent at that time, is that you are angry.
Knowing that you are angry is not only an unignorably problem for me, but it will also be a problem for any dog. Anger in a human will always lead to there being issues over trust, respect and leadership.
Unlike humans, dogs are always ready and willing to give you their full trust, but if their trust is not forthcoming to you, it will be because you yourself will have either never gained it, or more likely, you will have lost it.
So, have you lost it then?
Because you need to know, that it is absolutely impossible for an angry human to ever share a fully stable or trusting relationship with a canine. This doesn’t mean of course that just because you have a dog in your life that you are no longer allowed to get angry.
But, it does mean that when you do allow yourself to get angry, you must do so knowing that you are being watched, and there may well be repercussions as to just how your dog sees you at this time, especially if that anger of yours is seemingly unjustified to him.
Anger is of course only a natural reaction to any number of different possible scenarios that anyone can unwittingly bump into at any given time in their life.
Every living thing has the right to get angry, I would even say that surely, there would have to be something wrong with a being, if they did not possess the ability to at least get angry?
But, to remain constantly angry is another thing altogether, and even more confusing for me, is to see somebody act angrily without an apparent reason.
Without the ability to rationalise, I often can’t understand why you are angry, I just know that you are angry, and without me seeing a justified reason for that anger, without something physical to attach your anger to, surely you can see that your behaviour at this time, to me, can only suggest that you are at least unbalanced or maybe even just a little bit mad, but either way, if you can get mad for no apparent reason, it makes you unpredictable and therefore, untrustworthy.
Just like you, I judge and constantly re-evaluate not just anyone new that I meet, but also those I know around me.
My judgements of you are not based on the latest fashionable values that you may have just inherited from your cyber peers, they are my instincts, and therefore impossible for me to ignore, hence why I am demanding and not asking that you change. Because the truth is, the only person in the room able to ease those concerns of mine right now, is you.
27 Million Homes, 10 million dogs
and you still wanted to be a postman?
I understand if you feel as though emotionally, I am starting to paint you into a bit of a corner, with how unforgiving and relentlessly black and white I see things, along with what I am demanding of you. Which in your mind maybe doesn’t quite stack yet when put alongside the knowledge you have of how you usually act and react to some of life’s more demanding questions.
You really should have a little more faith in me, because I do get it, I do understand that for you this doesn’t quite add up yet, but it will, and soon, and when it does you’ll wonder how the hell you ever got this far through life without knowing.
Other than forgetting who your best friend is, the reason this hasn’t made any sense so far in your life is because up until now, nobody has ever understood or cared enough about how you are to make you want to stop.
My intention is not to make you feel self-conscious, but rather for you to understand just how vitally important it is for me, and indeed for both our sakes, that you wake up, tap in, stop fighting and hiding, and become just a bit more self-aware.
When you do, in time, which really will feel like no time at all, you are likely to discover that I am your grounded steadfast voice of reason and probably the most loyal and forgiving friend you’ll ever have.
I am the mirror image of you that can’t be photoshopped, the instinctive reaction that you can now no longer ignore, the lie detector that will never be bought, and the brick wall called honesty, that now stands planted rigidly right across your path.
Which I know can then leave some of you with a bit of a dilemma, knowing there will be problems between us if you get angry, but also knowing inside that anger is still part of your life?
What I am demanding doesn’t mean that you are not going to be able to be you anymore, it doesn’t mean that for you to have any chance of a harmonious relationship with a dog that you’ll both need to live in separate houses, and it doesn’t mean that you are about to lose your own identity.
I don’t want or need you to sell your soul, but everything in life comes at a price, and living by my code comes as no exception. There may be no sign-up fee to this code, and nobody is ever going to check whether or not you have done your homework, however there is still a price to pay, but as big the price as I am demanding that you pay for my love is, in truth, it is only a matter of you giving up a lot of stuff that already doesn’t belong to you, and a price that you will in the end be more than ready to pay.
Of course your identity is under scrutiny, but then with me in your life it always will be, but I promise you that it is not under attack nor will it ever be, at least not from me.
Putting it quite bluntly, my genetics won’t allow me to willingly follow anyone I consider to be an idiot, this default setting of mine comes from my pack orientated instincts.
Within a pack there is always a dominant alpha who runs the show. Alpha’s are a certain type, and if you think back to my little friend Alfie along with his owners for a second or two, you will I am sure, have to agree that just like humans, few dogs are actually natural born Alpha.
Unlike some human leaders, Alpha dogs never come from the extremes, they are never the bully and never Mr Angry, they don’t have hidden agendas and they put the value of the harmony and order of the pack before everything else.
Just like humans, you can train a dog to do many things, but you’ll never train him to be content, he either is content or he isn’t, and if he isn’t, unlike humans, it won’t be down to him.
When thinking about how my mind works, it may help a little if you picture in your mind, a spoked wheel, each spoke of that wheel is an emotion, such as love fear anxiety nervousness excitement, anger etc. As we travel around, through the ups and downs, through terrain we don’t know or in our own back yard, whatever speed and whichever direction we go, each spoke has a centre, a hub, a place where all emotions stem from, for me as your dog, that hub, is you.
Considering just how ugly some humans are, I think it is a bit rich for them to say that dogs can sometimes look like their owners.
However hard to swallow this thought might be for most dogs, I’d like to suggest that maybe people think this, not so much because of how similar the dog and their owners actually look, but rather how similarly the two of them act, and interact, both together as individuals and with the rest of the world, with the dog more often than not acting as a reflection or extension of their owner.
For a dog to act cool he must actually be cool, and for him to actually be cool, somebody else also has to be cool too, first.
Another reason for mentioning the wheel analogy is because I believe that when I try to explain my psychology, I will inevitably and endlessly go around in circles flitting from one subject to another, as I have already done by starting out talking about love, and somehow ended up banging on about anger.
Before we return to your favourite subject, I need just to give you the heads up on something else about you that will often confuse the hell out of me.
Many humans admit to not understanding dogs, which is likely to then mean that they are unaware dogs are actually telling you how they are thinking every second of every day, and they can do this through their body language. To a dog this language is a primal and most used sense, an invaluable reliable and universal means of communication, solely because it is based wholeheartedly on reality.
There is however a slight problem with this timeless fundamental universal intercontinental multi-national instinctual failsafe cross species means of communication, and that sadly is because it is used by every single species on the planet, except one.
No prizes for guessing which species this will be then eh, wouldn’t by any chance be the guys who think they are above nature at all would it?
Biggest brain on the planet, and you fill it with what exactly?
I will never quite understand how humans think they can get away without teaching their young how to communicate or survive the real world, but then with six hundred of you finding out the hard way every day, maybe it is something that you maybe are struggling with too?
This problem of reading or not reading body language is amplified only because of one basic fact, and that is of course, you.
You may well have forgotten all about using it, but we as a species of course haven’t, we still live and die by it, and we are very unlikely ever to change.
So, even though you don’t realise it, you are actually still communicating in dog to us, by your very own everyday natural and unconscious body language, you just don’t realise that you are talking to us every second of every day, just as we are doing with you.
This slight problem then becomes a much bigger issue when considering whether or not you are worthy of our trust or respect, and however inconvenient this may be to you, please remember that you are the one getting yourself bitten six hundred times every day, which makes me feel that now could be as good a time as there has ever been, for you to realise that what maybe a little bit of an inconvenience to you, is in fact of paramount importance to me.
Too many humans take our love trust and respect as a given, thinking forgiveness is the same as acceptance, and acceptance is the same thing as respect, whilst forgetting that we still cannot rationalise, and so will only ever see you and judge you for who you are, to us, right now.
Is This Love?
I feel quite sure that the boundaries of profanity won’t be stretched too far, should I suggest that love can sometimes hurt.
Everybody knows of course, that you can pay dearly for giving your love to someone who doesn’t deserve it, but, if you happen to have given that misguided love of yours to a dog that doesn’t deserve it, the possible consequences to be paid by both of you for this cruel naivety of yours, can be truly huge.
There are many reasons why, and many ways how, people unwittingly create behaviour problems in their dogs, but loving them when they don’t deserve it is high on the list of reasons behind why so many humans come unstuck with their dogs.
To demonstrate just how destructive misplaced love can be for a dog, I will again talk about my little friend Alfie, the former stress head whose only saving grace over the past two years must surely have been that he only weighs two kilos and not sixty.
On the day that I met Alfie I spoke with his owners at some length, in order to try and identify where Alfie’s issues had stemmed from.
It was only later, when I was commenting on what an impressive figure of a dog Mr Alfie was, when Mrs Owner then turned chuckling to me and said
“yes, it was about two weeks before I realised that he had a tail”
Love was not in short supply in Alfie’s new home, Mrs Owner was the sort of woman any young human would want to have as their mum, and the sort of human that would find it all but impossible to resist giving affection to a dog, ever.
She is the personification of Motherhood, a big softy as feminine and as warm as the day is long,
and as it turns out, she also happens to be the perfect kind of woman to enable a cute little fellow such as Alfie, to turn into a complete and utter monster.
Welcome to your new home, Boss.
Alfie’s behaviour problems were not solely down to him being instinctively quite a shy dog, nor were they because he was very nervous and unsure when he first arrived at his new home.
The fact that both of his new big softy animal loving owners were excited about his arrival, shouldn’t, have been a problem either.
The core of the problem simple lay in the fact that nobody had noticed that little Alfie had actually got a tail.
Had is new owners taken that time to first realise this and then secondly if they had actually understood what him having his tail jammed firmly between his legs actually meant, rather than opening the front door for him and instantly giving him the full run of his new home, the place by the way that up until that moment had belonged to Mr and Mrs Owner. They instead might have waited until they could have seen his tail before they had even allowed him over the front door threshold.
Had they noticed that Alfie was openly telling the whole world how unsure he was feeling, they would never have rewarded him with all that excitable welcome to your new home buddy affection and attention, that Alfie did indeed surely get.
This was the one time in their relationship when Alfie was not only looking for leadership but was more than ready to follow it, but sadly he found none, all he found were two weak minded excitable humans, who didn’t care what Alfie was trying to tell them, because they were too interested in proving to him just how much they already loved him.
By his new owners giving affection, and human style reassurance to Alfie at this time, a time when he was clearly in a weak unsure and insecure state of mind, they were unwittingly telling Alfie that, to have this place, to have us, to get affection, to get food, to get everything you want in life, all you have to do is keep acting the way in which you are acting right now.
Love and affection is not only looked at as a reward by a dog, but it is also conformation to them that they are doing what you want them to be doing, at that time, otherwise why on Earth would you be rewarding their current behaviour?
I mean no human parent in their right mind would ever reward their child for giving them bad behaviour would they? So why would a dog? To them affection can only be an endorsement by you, for how they are acting at the very time you give them the reward.
However, if you were still determined to give your dog that nice fat juicy steak for the fine job he did yesterday, for it to have meant what you wanted it to mean, you should have given it to him yesterday, or even better, whilst he was actually doing the fine job, so he would then understand exactly what he was getting such a treat for.
But should you say, have just caught him chewing up a pair of your best shoes, and you chose to ignore that fact because you still wanted to give him that lovely steak that you had bought specially for him for yesterday’s fine work.
Go right ahead and do so, making sure of course that just before you give it to him, that you look directly into his eyes and tell him in nice clear soft spoken Oxford English exactly why you are giving it to him, explain that this primal juicy reward has absolutely nothing to do with his current naughty unwanted bad behaviour and is solely and for yesterday’s brilliant and most wanted good behaviour.
Then just see how many shoes you still have left in one piece by the following morning.
As hard as this can be to take on board for a genuinely big softy, showing or giving affection to him as he entered his new home in that state of mind, was actually the very last thing Alfie needed at this time, for Mr and Mrs Owner to not only have proved their love for him, but to have prevented what was then going to happen to them all over the next two years, they would have had to expressed that love to him in a very different way
Do you remember me saying, even though I am demanding you change, that this isn’t a personal attack on you, by me?
Good, because even though it still isn’t, and never will be, I am aware that to some of you, I may be about to use the baton that I also mentioned earlier.
Loving me at the wrong time can lead us both into a lot of trouble, from you being given the run around by me, to me ending up dead because of your stupidity.
You thinking that all I need from you is love, can be, and often is, a very unhealthy thing for all concerned, especially when you go about giving it to me the wrong way or for the wrong reasons.
Many humans live under the illusion that our love for you is not only a given but unconditional. But I must tell you that only a species as arrogant or deluded as a human could ever dream of saying, let alone believing such a thing. Yes, of course we will, but you have to earn it first Mrs Owner, and once you have earnt it, you have to keep on earning it, every minute of every day, for the rest of my days, because love to us, is never anything less than conditional.
One of those conditions is that I have to respect you first, and no, respect you, definitely does not mean fear you, because if I fear you, I won’t trust you, and me not trusting you is the other deal breaker for me ever actually loving you.
So does this mean that the homely and warm very lovely super mummy Mrs Owner can no longer be a big softy?
Of course not, essentially it is time to celebrate the fact that she is a big softy, only from now on, being that way isn’t going to cost her anything like as much as what it has cost her so far in her life. Depending on how much she likes ironing of course, all she would have to do is see herself a little differently, and act in an ever so slightly very very different way.
This new way of being, will of course feel very unnatural to her, not least because often she will be not only fighting her instincts both as a human and as a mother, but more likely she will also be fighting the instincts that her very own life has taught her.
However, it is worth remembering at this point that however vulnerable you may feel, just because it feels different, doesn’t mean it’s wrong, and you can counter any fear or doubt about this, by simply remembering just how far your own trusted and familiar path has got you.
Three hours to read, a month to digest,
and a life time to enjoy
In the time that it takes you to read this little book at least two people in Britain will have been hospitalised because of yet more otherwise completely avoidable dog attacks.
Whilst the next month ticks by, just shy of one hundred British children under the age of ten will join them there, not forgetting the other four hundred and fifty or so other unfortunate souls, who will also get on the wrong side of dogs enough to warrant hospitalisation. Surely by avoiding all this unnecessary pain, through a little respect and understanding, wouldn’t this lead us all to more of a life time to enjoy?
So, anyway here we are back to fighting nature, or rather, you now having to fight your own nature.
The way you and I think have many parallels and similarities, the biggest and most obvious difference is probably the fact that we can’t lie, but essentially, once explained, canine psychology is about as straight forward as simple can possibly be, and from then on, the only time it can get complicated is when humans confuse it with their own, but unfortunately, humans tend to do this quite a lot.
Anthropomorphism, you’ll be relieved to know is the longest and most complicated word in Bark’s Code, but it is never the less something that I not only need to bring to your attention, but need you to remember, not necessarily the word, but I do need you to be conscious of you doing it, because it means humanisation.
Your crazy ability to imagine an inanimate object as a living thing, or how you force your human values ways and characteristics onto that of an animal, and even though every human is guilty of it, it is another one of the top reasons behind the daily six hundred.
I want to reassure you that I do understand what you want from me, my problem is that for me to be able to give you what you want, you, my owner, the one that I am meant to look to for direction, must have faith in the fact that peace and harmony is what I crave too, but until you stop seeing me as human you will never reach me, you will never win my heart and soul, primarily because you are not accepting me for who I truly am.
Who do you love, that cares not who you are
who will you hear, that will not hear you
who is lost, that you will follow
who gives you comfort, by sharing their fear
who brings you peace, whilst talking of war
who will you trust, who does not trust you
who then, are you,
I understand that you may feel a bit apprehensive or even fearful at the thought of change, you may fear that with your track record change is in fact quite unlikely.
It is however irrelevant whether you feel that you either can’t because you’re not strong enough or won’t because you consider yourself already too strong.
Given our track record, maybe the question you ask yourself should be more in the direction of, how fantastic is our life going to be for us both, if you yourself don’t change?
The most complicated thing about this book
is likely to be the person reading it
Humanization is something that Softies are very good at, and being good at it, means they are going to spend a lot of time looking at a teddy bear a baby or a child instead of me.
Love defines you like the sun defines each day, and so, the fear of losing or not being loved, or dare I say it, the fear of rejection, Softies please listen up, also defines much of your day and much of your way.
In human values, of course when somebody you care about is hurt, it is only natural, your instinct, to want to comfort them, be there for them, reassure them, which will often include the physical touch.
The power of a hug, to a human, can be overwhelming, sometimes a hug is the only thing that can be said, as indeed it can sometimes be the only thing that need be said.
Hug a dog though when he is distressed, and it is game over if helping him through his trauma was your intention.
As hard as this can be to accept to a Softie, nurturing a dog when he is in a distressed state of mind, is only to endorse his behaviour, so rather than telling him that you understand sympathise and feel sorry for him, what you are actually saying to him is, I like it when you are like this buddy.
So does this mean that you now have to be stand offish, cold hearted or distant to gain or show love to a dog?
No, it absolutely does not, and in truth the opposite is true, just because I am not human does not make me inhumane, and just because you feel guilty or fear that I won’t love you doesn’t mean you actually have anything to either actually feel guilty about or for that matter, anything to actually fear.
As it has done for most of your life, that fear and guilt of yours, that you love to wear so well, will always stand between you and I ever having the sort of relationship that you really want with me, won’t it Mrs Owner.
I am not asking you to deny that precious soft hearted warmth that you have within yourself for me, or stave off your own humanity in any way.
I only ask that you please allow you and I the opportunity to share a proper relationship, one that is wholesome and rewarding for both of us, one that is based on mutual trust respect and understanding, and not just based on your fears mistrust and frustration.
For this to happen you have to become something a little different, maybe just a little more, in my eyes at least, to what you have up until now ever allowed, or dared yourself to be.
To understand and enjoy the full potential benefits of a human canine relationship, it really is most important that we first remember honour and respect the fact that one of us is a human and the other one of course, is not.
Who I am, is because of who and what you are, and what I do next will mostly be defined by your next move.
I wouldn’t even be here if not for you, I am ready to love you, to adore you, ready to trust you, ready to respect you, ready to see you as the real you, and not the person you have let life batter you into.
I am ready and waiting for you to be the centre of my world.
I have had your back covered since the dawn of time, so please tell me how much longer is it going to be before you have the courage to trust me, again?
For you to have everything you have ever needed in your life, all you have to do now is to stop being so damn strong, and maybe start being just a little bit brave.
All I need you to do, for the magic to begin, for our world to change unrecognisably for the better, is for you to recognise just how being so strong has only ever got you as far as here, right now, sat with me, at your crossroads, with you so lost that you are now looking to a dog for direction.
Despite how many of you may feel, I am not in your life to take away from you, by understanding me, you will soon see that I am in your life for a reason, if nothing else, I am the living breathing barometer of you, and where you are right now in your own mind.
I am someone in your life who does actually really care how you are, in fact you should understand by now that your wellbeing is right there at the top of things that matter to me the most.
Of course you can buy your human friends off with I’m fine, but I’ll always know that you’re not when you’re not, and unlike your human buddies, when you are not, I will always react to it.
How much you let life beat you up or run away with you, how much you let it wind you up, or even how much you continue to give yourself away, how much affection you earn and how much you try to buy, is and always will be reflected in how I, your dog, am acting, or probably more accurately, how I am acting, up.
If you are thinking that my ground rules may not actually fit in with your modern life, with who you are and how you live that life, that you haven’t the time or energy to make all this stuff fit into your already over stretched daily timetable.
You will only be thinking this way because you haven’t understood yet, that the fear of being bitten, is in itself, more likely as not, the very reason that you are already being bitten.
I am not asking you to change every aspect of your otherwise perfect life, I only demand that you change how you are when you are around me, so that we, you and I, can then once again go on and enjoy us.
What or how you do everything else during the rest of your life is of course completely up to you, I’m your dog not your keeper, selfishly my only objective is your soulful happiness, so that you and I can then both then go on to enjoy a little peace and harmony.
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery
none but ourselves can free our minds”
So sang the late great Robert Nesta Marley OM, lyrics from his last song on his last album before his cruel sad and untimely death.
Redemption Song, was Bob Marley’s goodbye and final passing words of wisdom to the world.
I mention the greatest musician ever to grace our beautiful planet only in the hope that it may bring a little balance to what I can understand might by now feel a bit like constantly being barked at by a sergeant major.
Bob was the personification of Love and Peace, yet, none but ourselves means exactly that, the revolution that he sang about, and the one you have been sat around waiting for, can only start in one place.
As you indeed already know yourself, that in truth, the only thing stopping that revolution happening, and indeed the only thing preventing you from being free enough to become, your own true unquestionable unique and untainted self, is you, or rather, is your fear.
Fear of things that are no doubt, already biting you.
But if you still feel sure that you are not interested in change, or can’t see change happening, if actually it isn’t really that bad having no control over me, and the whole thing of taking responsibility and all that seems just a bit too much for you, and
that being a door mat is ok.
Then if you are going to continue to refuse to see yourself as capable of being anything more in my eyes than you are today, if I haven’t convinced you yet that being brave is a lot more fun than being strong will ever be, then ok no problem.
However, my old friend, if you are going to continue to be this selfish, I think it would probably be better all round if you forget all about me, and run along and you find yourself a cat.
You forget that we are Dogs, when treating us like humans
Forget you are Humans by living like Rats
Then wonder why Dogs bite you
The Six Hundred
So what does it take for a human to become a member of the daily six hundred club?
Those who have now just run off to get themselves a cat to pamper, will no doubt be the types of human that will then turn that cat into a diva, I mean they just will, we all know they will because of how they are.
Nothing wrong I guess with someone continuously giving their love away freely without ever expecting or receiving any respect or reward for it, but then I’m not a cat, and however sweet this fruitless kind of loving can seem to be to some, turning a cat into a diva is one thing, allowing a dog to become a diva is a completely different matter altogether.
You really don’t need me telling you when to feed me, you don’t need me thinking that we are equal, you don’t need to feel that you have to buy my love with affection a bone or chewy treats, you don’t want me thinking your home is my home, you don’t want me telling you when to walk me, you don’t want me telling you when to love me, and you don’t want me thinking that we are buddies, you really don’t want me thinking that we are buddies, you really don’t want me thinking that we are buddies, and you really don’t want me thinking that we are buddies, and I will keep saying that you don’t want me thinking that we are buddies and proving it to you six hundred times every day until you get the fact that I don’t want to be your buddy.
I am worth more than that, we are worth more than that, you are worth more than that. Please find the courage to see and recognise me as the only thing I want to be, which is your dog, and not your buddy teddy bear baby or child, accept that I have an independent mind that will only ever accept you as I see you, and then my friend you will truly come to understand, what the word buddy actually means.
Softies are of course not the only type of human capable of getting themselves into trouble with dogs, Hamsters can and often do, shine at making life very difficult for themselves too.
Human Being, we both know that you have the human part covered, because as good as we are at being dogs you are equally as good at being human, if only you could remember what being human actually meant eh?
Which brings me to, being, as in human being, because as I see things, it is the being part of human being that the six hundred are getting so very wrong, and with at least a quarter of a million dog attacks happening every year in Britain, it might be just a little bit ever so very easy to suggest that day after day after day, a lot of Hamsters are getting a lot of things in their life, very wrong.
Hamsters think the clock
is more important than time
It is irrelevant to me what or who drives you to be the way you are, who you are trying to impress or who you are running from, whether those seeds were sewn by others or you found them for yourself. The pressures of life that are in your life, are there because you enjoy them and have allowed them to be there, and you continue to allow them to be there, otherwise, why would they be there?
Whatever cage you have built for yourself, whoever’s clock you are running to, please remember that the only time that I am ever remotely interested in, is right now. I am aware that you may well have forgotten all about the concept of living in the moment, but I haven’t, it is all I can do, all I will ever do, and all I have ever done.
So where ever or how ever fast you usually allow your head to go or whoever’s tune you chose to dance to, is cool by me, after all this is you, and this your own personal business, until of course that is, you happen to be holding on to the other end of my lead.
It doesn’t matter to me whether you happen to be the world’s sweetest eight year old girl, a frail little old lady or a muscle bound giant with a bolt through your nose and hard tattooed across your forehead, to me you are all flesh and blood, all human, the rules for how we engage, our harmony, how I see you, how much I’ll trust you, respect you or indeed listen to you are always the same, for everyone, no matter where when or who you are.
Choosing how much of life’s “stuff” you want to carry around with you through your day to day, will of course always be up to you, for me, if that’s the way it is that’s the way it is, or rather if that’s just the way you are, then that’s just the way you are.
So as long as you remember that, now you and I are actually physically connected by a lead, any issues you that you are carrying around with you are very likely and very quickly to then go on to also become my issues too.
Denial…. Didn’t Even Notice I Always Lied.
Many, if not all humans do this very well, some do so well they spend their whole life running around doing it without ever realising.
Trouble is, I’m a dog, probably the best lie detector in the world, unable to rationalise, see you as you really are and live right here in the now.
Which means, that if we are ever to walk freely through this world together, if you are to own the path we tread, if we are to avoid the pain of joining the six hundred club every time you walk out your front door, whilst I am walking by your side, as your guide, denial of who you are and how you are acting my old friend, is something we can no longer allow you to do.
As we leave the crossroads behind us, heading out on our walk through life together, in order for us to avoid joining any clubs we don’t want to belong to, you are going to have to jump off your hamster wheel, put down your stuff, indulge yourself with some long overdue me time, and then feel what it is like to grow.
The reason I need you to start smelling coffee rather quickly is because we are now not only attached by a lead, but we’re also out in the big wide world together, with my wellbeing now directly and firmly placed in your hands, and in your hands alone.
So you’ll understand that, if whilst we’re walking into the unknown, I’ll be ever more interested in how you are, and how you are acting, simply because I can’t afford you to be less than I need you to be, and nor may I suggest, can you.
After all this is Great Britain today in 2016, a year in which two male adults a young child and a baby have already been mauled to death by dogs.
By dogs that again, nobody had respected for being dogs, and all of these dogs are of course now also dead.
The only time a human took responsibility for those dogs actually being dogs in any of those homes, was when there was sadly only one choice left to make.
Yet, at any one time, during the lives of these dogs, any of those same owners would have no doubt looked you square in the eye with their hand on their heart and would have told you that they loved their dog, and that until it had ripped a young human apart that they believed their dog would probably have never even hurt so much as a fly.
So, here we are again back talking about love, or maybe before we do, perhaps we need to define just what love actually means to the most selfish and deluded species on the planet. Because I know what it means to me, I just get a little confused sometimes as to what it actually means to you.
Ask yourself how many more children have to die before you take me and the responsibility that comes with being around me seriously? How many times per day do you actually have to be bitten before you’ll take your head out of your own dark place and recognise and honour what I am, how many more of your young have to be disfigured by their teddy bear before you can grasp hold of the fact that you have, or at least you are very quickly beginning to, wholeheartedly and irreversibly just ever so slightly lose the plot.
However politically incorrect, unfashionable insensitive or inconvenient the rules for my love and our ongoing harmony together may be, I am Dog, not human, my ancestors were wolves not anti-depressant popping hamsters.
If you want to continue running through life like a headless chicken then ok, but do so knowing that I am about as likely to respect a headless chicken as much as I would a hamster.
When you are holding on to my lead, please remember that nature isn’t just something that you may randomly happen to watch programmes about on television every now and again, when you’re bored or can’t find the remote, it is right here and right now, living and breathing with a mind all of its own, on the end of the lead, that is now in your hand and not somebody else’s hand, it is your hand, the hand that is at the end of your arm that is part of your body that is run by your head.
I of course mean you, I’m now attached to you, your very good self, nobody else, just you, and me, now together as one?
So, how are we, you and I, going to get on? It is a beautiful day, maybe even a day for us both to remember, those crossroads of yours are now behind you, our way is forward, and even though you may not know exactly where we are or where we are going yet, I can assure that we are alone, this is me time, there’ll be no oncoming traffic to run you over, no people, no other dogs, no other demands, no unexpected charging rhinoceros or indeed, anything at all for that matter for you to fear, it really is just you all by your very own self, with me by your side, walking you home.
I have a question or two that you may want to think about for a while as we walk, there’s no particular rush for you to answer, other than, before we do actually get back in amongst the day to day of your modern day life again, it really would be best if you yourself understand who you are to me, how I see you, and what in reality the consequences of how I see you can mean, for both of us, and for both of our wellbeing.
By the way, the contract that you have just signed by taking hold of my lead, means that many of the rules that you may have become accustomed to, now no longer apply. It may be 2016 with all the trimmings to you, but to me, same as it was back then, is the same as it will be some other time, any day, whenever it was, is just another day.
As we walk please remember that you are my hub, where everything starts and ends for me, so for you, this is where the blame culture ends, and where a two-way street of respect and understanding must begin.
You understand that if you are full of fear whilst we walk, that I will have no option but to react to that fear, don’t you? I mean, no matter what that fear may be, to me, you are full of fear, and I have just realised that I have been talking to human for all this time, and your primary sense is sight, and therefore you may feel that I haven’t actually introduced myself to you yet.
I am not my little friend Alfie, truth is I probably weigh more than you do, which by the way is another reason you need to take me for this walk, and not the other way around. I’m an old timer, mid-way through life who has seen enough for me to be ok with who I am. I don’t scare that easily, so unlike little Alfie I am unlikely to waste must time or energy getting stressed running around barking and snapping, should something I am unsure about come my way.
Which means that I am unlikely to lead you into trouble, this is your chance to start your day on top with a clean sheet, and keep it that way. I’m here right by your side, as a dog who is at peace with who he is, with nothing to prove to anyone, except maybe to himself. But without wishing to burst your bubble too aggressively, my agenda for your soulful happiness, isn’t necessarily just a selfless act on my part, it actually has more to do with the fact that, until you have found yours, the chances of me achieving mine will be somewhere between zero, and no chance at all.
best you recognise what they are before you get one,
otherwise you might just end up suddenly
having to recognise,
what you are.
The thing most likely to make me uneasy in any given situation as we go further on into your journey, is if, or when, you yourself become uneasy, and that stupidly simple rule to remember my friend, in essence, is as complicated as mastering canine behaviour, is ever likely to get.
To see somebody being dragged down the road by their dog as they try to walk it, makes about as much sense to me as watching somebody try to lead a horse by its tail.
This is a very clear and instant indication for the whole world to see, including I must say, and especially, every other dog within eye shot of them, that the relationship between that dog and that human, is anything but harmonious, respect and understanding are not walking together side by side as one.
This in itself, can and often will be, a big red flag waving lights flashing sirens blaring heads up to any other dog, that trouble is more than likely heading towards them.
Alfie bless him, would have, and probably still would, go into absolute and immediate meltdown if he were to be approached by a dog and owner acting this way.
Why is this behaviour such a giveaway of potential trouble to me, and why would I, Mr Cool Calm and Collected, be more than a little wary of another dog dragging its owner towards me?
To a dog this really is more a question of why wouldn’t I be wary.
Being dragged down the road by your dog means several patently obvious and undeniable things about both the dog and owner, and if that dog happens to be dragging his owner towards somebody like me, it can lead somebody else straight into the six hundred club, no problem, no questions asked.
Because every dog in the whole world knows, that if you want a dog to go ahead of you as you are walking him on the lead, or make him pull harder than he already is, you simply pull back on his lead, the dog will then more than happily oblige by leaning into the strain of the pull. Especially if the lead is down at the base of his neck near the shoulder, acting more like a yoke on a horse or a buffalo when they are pulling a cart or plough, in fact, the reason why harnesses were first used on dogs, was to enable the human to literally harness the full power of their dogs, such as with a husky.
Which of course means that, when the person being dragged down the road tries to slow their dog down by pulling back harder on the lead, what they are actually saying to the dog is, “just keep going as you are buddy this is great”, which of course in reality, is a little bit like trying to put a fire out by spraying it with petrol.
Not only that, but they are also unwittingly again going further by endorsing everything the dog is doing at that time, every step of the way, just by taking another step, and on every step they take on that way. Because every step the owner takes whilst they’re being dragged, is the owner actually accepting and endorsing the current behaviour the dog is giving them, to their dog.
So not only does the dog think that he’s doing the right thing by pulling his owner down the road, but the owner keeps endorsing this miscommunication, by continuing to go along with being dragged, otherwise, to the dog at least, if being dragged down the road isn’t in fact what the owner wanted, then why is the owner still continuing to allow it?
But then sadly, if the owner is in fact already used to having their arm pulled out of its socket every time they try to walk their dog, the dog itself will be very unlikely to ever be looking back towards its owner for direction, simply because the owner will have given the dog no actual reason to.
Unless the owner has deep masochistic tendencies, the physical discomfort of trying to walk a relentlessly pulling dog, will no doubt mean that the owner is unlikely to be actually enjoying the experience of walking their “buddy” very much at all.
For proof of what I have just claimed, please take the time to observe the cool relaxed and together look on the face on the next person you see being dragged down the road by their dog, take a moment too, to note the comfortable body language they are exuding as they seemingly drift along effortlessly through life.
Humans can spend a life time getting away with pretending and denying many things about themselves to the world, but denying that you are less than your dog needs you to be, is impossible, if you are in fact being dragged down the road by your very own lie detector.
The dog may well seem very happy to be enthusiastically putting all his efforts into his busy walk, but that doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t be at least as keen, to be doing something else, something else that both the dog and their owner would maybe even then go on to actually enjoy.
Once put to a task, dogs can be very determined and enthusiastic about carrying out the job they have been given, and bearing in mind that a dog such as a Pitbull can drag up to thirty times its own weight, which is roughly the equivalent of an average sized man being able to drag a dead weight of about two tons, or that a team of Huskies are capable of dragging a sledge behind them for one hundred miles in a single day, and then do the same again the following day, and then again the day after that.
It might therefore be wise, regardless of whatever breed he is, for you to make sure that your dog knows from the very outset, that his job whilst together with you out on your walk, most definitely is not, never has been and never will be, to pull you.
The Walk Home
Although there can be numerous reasons why a dog would be pulling their owner along as they try and walk, all too often, it sadly won’t be due to any canine misunderstandings, with the dog already knowing full well who, or rather what kind of a person, he is pulling down the road.
The humans most likely to be queuing up to become members of the six hundred club, are those who already see their membership coming, or worse, they see it coming, but don’t know what to do about it, or even worse than that, they see it coming, deny the problem, and continue walking through life just hoping things will somehow get better, because things won’t get better, and they never will.
Until you yourself know in your heart that your dog will listen to you no matter what, when it comes to crunch time, when club membership beckons, he probably won’t listen to you.
To know in your heart that your dog will listen to you no matter what, takes a little more from a human than them owning a teddy bear, having the baby they never had, or trying to keep in with a supposedly best buddy.
To a dog each day is a new and different day, each walk a different walk, all a dog can take from yesterday is the conditioning, or the behaviour that they have learned through their life so far.
The one constant for them through each day is you, how they act will be a direct reflection of you, how you are and how you act will be the baseline of how they see you.
So, whether they then trust or respect you enough to willingly put their life in your hands, whether they take you seriously or would ever willingly follow you without protest, will have been down to nobody else but you.
The most dangerous and self-damaging
thing a human can possess,
is their own imagination
When overcoming behaviour problems in dogs, such as pulling, it is worth remembering, that it will have taken the dog in question only a matter of seconds, for him to have understood all he needed have known about that particular human, for him to then react to that knowledge, by acting the way he did.
If you then compared those few seconds of that first meeting, against however long that same, still not yet respectful and still pulling dog, has then gone on to know that same owner for, you will I hope recognise that for that owner to stand a chance of successfully turning around this out of balance relationship, for that dog to see his owner in a completely different light to the person he has become very accustomed to after all that time, the owner is going to have to not only just start acting differently towards the dog, but more likely, actually be different.
Rehabilitation, to some may just be a fashionable word, to others it will represent something only plastic celebrities do when their house of cards collapse, but whatever or however cheap or scary the thoughts this word provokes within you are, I should tell you that for the pulling to end, rehabilitation is something you, your very own self, must now jump soul first and fearlessly into.
Dogs, as you know cannot rationalise, so as we start heading towards home, it is best we make sure that this actually is just you and me on our walk together, and not you and me, plus that very powerful imagination of yours.
When you get back amongst your old life again, please feel free to imagine whatever you like, wind yourself up into a fretting frenzy about anything you feel is worth ruining your day for, but not now, and in fact not ever whilst I am by your side, because for us to work in harmony, for you to turn things between us around, I’m going to need your head nowhere else other than tapped in to me, right here in the now.
I am not suggesting to anyone, that for any of what I am talking about to stand a chance of working properly, somebody would have to immediately put everything else in their life down, and then devote every living second of their life just to me and these new demands of mine.
Depending on the issue and indeed the intensity of that issue, the rehabilitation of behavioural problems in dogs can very quickly become a bit of steep learning curve of self-knowledge, for an unprepared human, especially if those issues have anything to do with aggression.
Not least of all because this is not only real life, right here in the now, but their life, with no excuses, and in front of a judge that can see you lie before you have opened your mouth.
Which can result in people finding themselves on something of an often quite intense and emotionally charged journey of discovery about a little bit more than just their dog.
A dog by the way, that was born perfect, and only got messed up by selfish unknowing self-absorbed unprepared or cruel humans.
By the end of play today there will be another six hundred souls who might now, I hope, readily agree with me, when I suggest that this wakeup call journey of yours, apart from being overdue, is probably a journey that to mean anything at all, might just actually have to be ever so slightly intense.
One certainty in life is that the more you put in, the more you are likely to get out, and further, the more you believe in what you are doing, the more likely it is that you’ll be good at doing it.
Same goes though, that if you don’t know what you are doing, it is much harder to convince somebody that you are confident in what you are doing when you haven’t actually got a clue what you are talking about, especially if your lie detector, who of course absolutely does know the score, happens to be the one who you are now trying to convince.
However, you now having to convince a lie detector whether or not you’re ready to walk through life comfortably with him by your side, is something I’ve got to push you to answer, because I need to know whether or not you are with me right now.
Only because, even though I said there’ll be no sudden surprises on this walk, we are in fact fast approaching a significant junction, on this journey of ours.
Although this may only look like just another crossroads to you, and nothing like an angry rhinoceros charging towards us, unlike before, these crossroads are my crossroads and not yours, this is where I, your buddy, the other half of your relationship, along with my free thinking independent mind of mine, gets to decide what sort of a walk you and I will be having together today.
Once we reach these crossroads, you’ll find that if you take a left, then follow that road endlessly until you come to the middle of nowhere, you’ll eventually come across a farm house, where an old lady there sells cats, or, if you carry on along the road ahead of you in just the same way as you have always done, you will no doubt find yourself right back in the same place as where you started out from, again.
Even though it might usually be an all but impossible road to find, the direction we’ll be taking, for now at least, is the one where I get the pleasure and then all the rewards, of introducing you to somebody that you obviously not only need to meet, but need to get to know.
So, if you are ready to take back what you have been giving away all your life, if you can admit to yourself that you have had enough of being dragged around by life, sorry I meant enough of being dragged around by your dog, and you recognise that you are currently living your one and only chance of life, then let’s go my friend, let’s go find the real you.
Overriding Your Auto Pilot
You probably won’t have realised this yet, but the fact that you still have hold of my lead, is telling me something about you that up until now, I had always been unsure of, and I must say this is something that fills me with both joy and hope.
The fact that you didn’t even notice walking through the doorway that you have in fact just walked through, tells me that it is now game on, that all is in fact far from lost, and we now stand a chance of not only turning things around between us, but we both now have a chance of going on to actually enjoy our time together.
That doorway by the way was the one I talked about earlier at the beginning of this little book, the one-way door, that once you have walked through, leaves you with no way of going back.
But then in reality, why on Earth would you ever want to go back, being there only got you as far as here, and besides, by the time we get home you’ll already know in your heart that this journey is a one-way ticket, and not an eternal merry-go-round.
I have however just become aware after those last crossroads seemingly came out of nowhere at us, that we have perhaps been walking at quite a pace. Which I know can be a good thing for us both at times, but for now, as we’re not in any particular hurry to get things wrong, I’d like to slow the pace down just a touch.
Not only do we still have a long walk ahead of us but I’ve still got a thing or two that I’d like to bark on about before we get too much closer to home.
We have some undoing to do, some unlearning of bad practices and behaviour, that day to day amongst your own kind may not cause you too much noticeable grief, but with me around you, and me being a dog and all, that some of your ways and how you have learned to be, are now obviously tripping you up.
To begin addressing some of these issues I would like you to just relax for a while and enjoy the simple experience of our walking together, and as we go along I’ll explain just how and why it was so easy for me to tame our little friend Alfie.
No matter how big or powerful the engine happens to be, the most dangerous thing about any motorbike, will be the nut holding the handlebars, in just the same way that guns or knives are in themselves not actually dangerous.
The missing ingredient as to what will then go on to make any of these inanimate objects suddenly become dangerous at all, is of course a human being, and this simple rule is never more applicable than when talking about dogs.
I hope that once I have explained about little Alfie, that you’ll come to believe just as I do, in that the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act will always be one of Britain’s most ineffectual pointless and upside down pieces of legislation, and further, in years to come, it will be this particular piece of legislation along with the backward thinking simpletons who introduced it, that will stand as testament to just how far man’s arrogance, ignorance, self-delusion and his woeful contempt for nature got him, before he had the courage to finally listen to his best friend and recognise who in fact the actual trouble makers have always been.
I hope too that you will also understand why I believe there surely must be room within the humanities programme of today’s education curriculums, to include such fundamental subjects as canine psychology and protocol. To do so would surely give your young some of the life tools that are clearly lacking amongst us in our world today.
For every seven humans in this country there is one dog, after ten thousand years of forging Britain’s history together, today there are now ten million of us walking amongst you.
Depending on your personal point of view, with six hundred dog attacks currently happening every day here in Britain, a number that year after year continues to steadily rise by the way.
To some this will mean that there are indeed a lot of land sharks out there walking amongst a lot of people who have forgotten a lot about nature, or, you could say that there is a shed load of potential therapy walking amongst a lot of people whom might just ever so slightly need it, a lot?
Dethroning the Mighty Alfie
Alfie was two years old when I first met him, which in human physiological development terms will have made him roughly the equivalent of a twenty five to thirty year old human.
Although over the course of their life, each single dog year will equate to about that of seven human years, when taking into consideration that dogs will often be fully capable of reproduction by the time they are about nine or ten months old, making each of the first two years of a dog’s life are in reality, closer to about fifteen of yours.
So, even though Alfie was in effect already an adult, who had spent his entire life so far learning how to be the Alfie he’d surely by now turned into, and even with his behaviour so seemingly engrained, the reason it was so easy for me to take this little guy’s crown off him, and indeed why the whole procedure of doing so only took but a few brief moments, was because Alfie himself didn’t actually want his crown.
Nor had he ever wanted it, in fact he’d spent much of his life trying to give it back to someone, his only problem was that up until now, he’d never been able to find anyone either ready willing or concerned enough to take it off him.
So, after a life time of his ironing board hate campaign, of his running around barking snapping and growling at everybody whilst he continuously gave his bewildered owners the relentless run around, what magic formula did I bring to Alfie’s party, that allowed me to bring all of his misbehaving adventures to such an abrupt and absolute end?
Or, you could maybe ask yourself, how was somebody like me, a complete stranger to Alfie at that time, able to walk into his life, and after only a few moments of meeting with him, gain this little fellow’s trust and respect, and in doing so, was then able to convince Alfie, that his days of being a stress head were over, and that he wasn’t going to have to live in fear, any more.
By gaining his trust, you will be removing his fear, and once you have done that, you will have taken away many of the reasons why humans often find themselves on the wrong side of dogs, indeed, fear, combined with excitement or stress in a dog, is six hundred club stuff just waiting to happen.
Alfie had spent much of his life so far being stressed, he had also spent a lot of that time being excited, and as everyone around him knew all too well, he was also very familiar with using his bite too.
So, to enable me to defuse this little fellow’s usual ways of acting in any given stressful situation, I had to be something that Mr and Mrs owner had up until this point in Alfie’s life, never been.
Alfie was used to people reacting to him, one knock at the front door and the whole family would instantly burst into a game of catch the panicking piranha before anyone dare open the door.
But this time the knock on the door had come from someone intent on having things done very differently, there was going to be no running from or chasing after a stress head today. Alfie was no longer going to be setting the pace around the home, relentlessly running around barking and nipping, or rounding everyone up was now a thing of the past, in short, the days of Alfie’s unwanted antics were over, and the crazy thing about all this is, that Alfie himself only had to make eye contact with me, for him to not only know it, but willingly accept it.
But then little Alfie is Alfie, and not Alpha, which meant he never wanted his crown in the first place, he didn’t want to be in charge of everything, he couldn’t cope with any of the responsibilities that he believed he was carrying, hence his stress.
His biggest problem was, and always had been, the desperate lacking of either awareness or leadership qualities within his owners, or put another way, a lack of anything that a dog would ever think of calling love.
Having someone there to reassure him in a way he understood, to take away his stress, to then give him someone he could willingly follow in peace and without fear, instead of having someone who would instead just keep throwing petrol onto his unbalanced and already raging emotional bonfire.
On the day that I met Alfie, my objective was to win the heart and mind of a guy who up until this point, had been the one running the show and he was used to setting the tone around the home.
Until now, whatever he chose to do, and whenever or however he chose to do it, the humans in Alfie’s life would then react to what he had chosen to be up to.
However, I was now right there in his home to inform Alfie that this was no longer going to be the case.
Knock knock at the door, bark bark goes Alfie, and at that point little Alfie has just done his job, his primal intruder alarm has just kicked in and he has now informed Mrs Owner that there is somebody trying to break into Mrs Owner’s home, good boy Alfie, your job is done, now go back to sleep.
Then, before Mrs Owner goes anywhere near that front door, Alfie will be relaxed, patiently waiting now laying on his bed awaiting his next command from Mrs Owner, isn’t he Mrs Owner?
Because if he is not, and you didn’t in fact stop him from going into an excited fear based meltdown just after his first initial barks, then no doubt he’s now running around the house barking his head off again slowly getting more and more frantic, as the whole house once again joins in throwing petrol on the fire by springing straight back into another game of panicking piranha. Then once caught he’ll no doubt be locked up out of harm’s way, again, and learn absolutely nothing positive about the whole experience, again.
Alfie only learning that if he panics and then kicks off, he gets put in detention away from everyone, which to him means at least he never has to actually deal with any tiny little slight issues that he may or may not have, he learns only how to avoid problems by burying his head further into the sand, again.
So, how is it that little Alfie spends a few moments with a guy called Bark, and now suddenly after a life of mayhem, somehow Alfie has now become a calming influence within the home?
Alfie was only ever a danger to anybody once he had become over excited, so very simply, for the world to avoid any problematical behaviour issues with this little fellow, all Mr and Mrs Owner ever had to do from now on, was make sure they never allowed little Alfie to get excited again, ever, and basically that’s it.
That was about as complicated as sorting little Alfie’s issues out ever got, our little problem child was then free to be a lap dog, free to be the companion that his owners had always wanted, no rehabilitation required with this one. As far as I was concerned Alfie had been signed off as good to go. I had once again found a dog just being a dog, for humans who didn’t know what a dog was.
We’d had a whole afternoon of perfect behaviour from Alfie just to prove that even a hard liner like Alfie was ready to begin this new chapter in his life, a life where anxiety would no longer be allowed to rule his day, fear was no longer going to drag anybody down the road, and peace could once again now finally find its rightful place back in their home.
So now we’re good then yes? Bark is in the house and little Alfie has miraculously turned into a different dog, and now everyone connected with him is happy.
Although if there is going to be a hiccup during these whole proceedings, it will most probably be not long after Bark himself decides to eventually stop talking and go home. That is when Mr and Mrs Owner will have to then acknowledge that Alfie’s rehabilitation may well be a done deal, he may well have proved to everyone that he doesn’t have to act the way he used to, his rehab then may well be in the bag, but for them, for Mr and Mrs Owner, their rehabilitation has only just begun.
After two years of throwing petrol on Alfie’s fires to put them out, how do Mr and Mrs Owner now start using water, and how do two of the calmest people on the planet, who so far haven’t managed to influence young Alfie with their easy going ways, get to turn things around enough for Alfie to now respect them enough to listen to
Laid back and calm is usually a very good thing for a human to be whenever they are around dogs, however, for the harmony that is now in Alfie’s life, to continue on after Bark has left their home, Mr and Mrs Owner must now step up and take Bark’s place. Having both now accepted that dog ownership is in fact, not a spectator’s sport, that it hasn’t been since the dawn of time nor it must be said, is it ever likely to be. With this in mind, the next time you hear a dog loving owner say, “oh look at what my stupid dog does”, I would like you to know in your heart that what they more likely saying, or admitting to, is, “Oh look at what this stupid inadequate and irresponsible owner is allowing their dog to do”.
The key word in what I just said then was, allowing.
For the past two years, or looked at from a dog’s perspective, for the first twenty five years or so of Alfie’s life, his owners have been happy to sit back and allow their little furry baby to slowly work himself up into a frenzy and live a life full of stress, mistrust and frustration. However bountiful their love for him may have been, at no point in their relationship has any of that supposed love ever helped Alfie become anything other than a nervous wreck.
In canine physiological terms Alfie is a young adult dog, had he not been castrated he would or could have by now, already be responsible for fathering many more unbalanced little Alfie’s.
Up until today Alfie’s problems have been centred around the fact that psychologically, fear had never allowed his mind to develop beyond the nervous eight week old puppy that had been allowed free will as he entered Mr and Mrs owners home, those two very long years ago.
So that is where we have to go back to, that is why we must go back to the beginning, back to pup, back to first day, and start again, only this time we’ll be using something other than petrol to dowse little Alfie’s nervous fires with.
Knock knock goes the door, bark bark goes Alfie, and then . . . . .
. . . . . silence.
Your mid-life crisis
My suggestion of Alfie only barking once and then being silent after hearing a knock at the door, was maybe a bit too big of an ask, or at least for the time being it was, maybe?
However, in good time, the length of which will largely depend on the level of commitment and self-belief shown by Alfie’s owners, Alfie just barking once or twice without then having to go into a meltdown about it, is an easily achievable reality for any owner who is ready to step up and actually be there for their dog.
Mostly because Alfie didn’t want to run around like an idiot getting all wound up over nothing, he only did so because that was what he had always done, and he’d only done that for so long because nobody yet, had ever understood or cared enough about his wellbeing to make him want to stop.
Of course, this won’t be how the big softy animal loving Mr and Mrs Owner will want to remember it, but I can assure you that this is absolutely how little Alfie always saw it.
He learned very quickly in his young life that nobody was there for him when he needed them most, all he had learned so far was that when he got stressed, he ended up in a room where there was never anything or anyone else there to get stressed about.
Which meant a temporary, but still artificial peace would then fall over their home, but that peace came at the cost of Alfie ever having the opportunity to face any of his fears, and without facing them, how was he ever supposed to get over them?
How was this sort of love going to allow Alfie the chance of ever experiencing proper interaction and socialisation with other dogs, how was it then ever going to allow him to lead a full rewarding, balanced, stress, anxiety and fear free life?
Until today, Mr and Mrs Owner wholeheartedly believed that they had loved their Alfie, they called Bark to help Alfie with some of his issues, only to find that his biggest issue was in fact, them.
As damaging as giving misplaced love to a dog can be, if you’re now questioning or even starting to feel guilty because you’re realising that maybe, what you may have once considered to be love, at times, to somebody like Alfie at least, might in fact end up feeling more like you continuously taking the back seat, whilst you watch him burn.
If the sound of pennies dropping is making you feel guilty because of your own possible misplaced love towards your dog, then please stop, as there is no gain in feeling this way.
After all the millennia’s that we have spent together, and still today with the continuing otherwise completely avoidable discord between our two species, yes of course I want to twist your ear over your lazy and selfish behaviour, yes of course I want to bite your backside and have you wake up to the reality of just how far from nature you are treading, and yes I am sick and tired of you constantly blaming me for your misgivings.
However, you feeling bad about yourself is going to get us nowhere, and there’s definitely no room for any guilt that you may have wanted to have brought along with you on this journey of ours. If we had known better we would have done better, and now my friend you do know better, so please, let us now just do better.
Thankfully, an enlightened invigorated and now very determined Mrs Owner has stepped up for the sake of her little Alfie, and has now replaced her cans of petrol with buckets of water. So now, if or when there is any sign of smoke coming from little Alfie’s direction, it will be dowsed and dealt with immediately, instead of being fuelled and allowed to grow, and then allowed to continue to grow until it became something that it never could or would have ever become, had the owner just simply taken control and not allowed it to happen in the first place.
Ok Mrs Owner, two years in and your buckets of water at the ready, we need to free someone you dearly love, of the fear that currently and very clearly overwhelms his life, and once we have done that, I’ll then be able to introduce you to the real Alfie.
Even though we’re not literally going to be throwing buckets of water at Alfie every time he decides to have a meltdown, you will still need to have something that not only has the same ability to grab Alfie’s attention, but that will also be constantly at hand and readily available to you, something that can be used at any time of day or night where ever you happen to be, and it needs to be something that you’ll never suddenly realise that you have forgotten to take with you when you find yourself out in the big wide world with your dog.
I therefore suggest that the best possible gadget that you can choose to rely on, to help you gain the trust of your dog, is you, and you believing in you, his hub. Ok you might forget who you are every now and again for a while, but then Alfie will soon remind you, and unlike any other gadget, where ever you go, you’ll never forget to take this one with you.
In order to stop the knock knock at the door being the starting pistol that then sends Alfie spinning off out of control running around yapping and snapping at whatever it was that sent him into free fall, all we need to do is stop him from being able to get up and away much beyond the starting blocks.
For this we’ll use another most valuable piece of equipment, if you have spent more than a fiver buying one then you have more money than sense, in my experience, the more complicated these things get, the less likely they are to work.
The lead, however simple, is your doorway to primal communication and understanding between human and canine.
To give Alfie any chance of seeing his owners in a new light, their primary roll will now have to be in stopping any meltdown that Alfie might be about to have, dead in its tracks. To do this he is going to have to respect his owners, and to respect them now after not doing so for all this time, we are going to need that lead, and then from now on, those all but impossible walks that I mentioned when I first introduced you to Alfie, are now about to become a thing of the past.
To have the rehabilitation of Alfie’s owners stand a chance of literally starting off on the right footing, they will have to follow a few new fundamental ground rules.
For the quickest and easiest way to not only make sure that Alfie understands these new rules, but also for the owners to see instantly, the rewards that everyone involved can expect to see when these new ways are in fact implemented, and they are going to have to start doing a bit of what you and I have been managing to do together now ever since we left your crossroads behind.
To some of you a walk may just be a form of exercise, but to a dog, a walk is where the foundations for each day are laid, where the bond between human and canine are most realised, and it is something that if not done correctly, will inevitably indicate more than just the contempt the dog might be showing for his owner as they walk.
The fear that fills Alfie’s life must be put to rest, and the way we are going to do that, is by walking him confidently on his lead, straight to whatever it is that he fears the most, let him go through the whole experience of fear over taking his mind, but this time without him being able to trigger his usual response of panic and run away, or as it is known, flight.
He can’t run away because you have the other end of his lead in your hand, which is a good thing, now that everyone is conscious about what sort of an anchor we are being for Alfie whilst we’re on the other end of his lead, aren’t we Mrs Owner?
As Alfie can no longer simply run away when things get stressful, he can now start the process of learning how to do something different, other than rely on his usual ways of coping, he will soon understand that you’re no longer going to sit back and watch him burn, and then he’ll come to see in his own good time, that whatever pointless fuss he used to make, whatever it was that normally had him running scared, that in the end, through you taking the time to understanding him and his needs, he’ll come to see that there wasn’t actually anything for him to be afraid of in the first place, and that in truth, his own out of control fear, had in itself, become the thing Alfie was now most afraid of.
Pain is Pain
Your stuff, is your stuff, to a dog it doesn’t matter what your stuff is, how heavy it may be or what it looks like, quite apart from the fact that your dog wouldn’t have a clue what you are going on about, the only thing that matters to him, is how you are dealing with your stuff, or more often, how you let your stuff deal with you.
Nobody walks through life pain free, nobody has half as much as they’d like you to believe they have, loads of people are sorry they did loads of stuff they did in their life, and lot of people wish they’d done things very different, but you will be far from being the only person who may feel the way you do about yourself.
However, and regardless of that, trying to walk your dog harmoniously whilst dragging your life around with you, will simply never work, and will never work because I’m a dog and you are a human, and unlike any of your human buddies, you’ll never buy me off with verbal excuses for not being what I need you to be, you either are or you are not, and at the moment, you’re currently running at about six hundred bloody and painful times every day not.
This is our opportunity to right many wrongs, not just between us but for our own selves too, this is when a soul finally has the courage to draw a line in the sand, and say no more.
If we are to work, if harmony in our lifetimes together is to be found, then this will be when to start learning to say no when you mean no, and even though no is a very small word, for some it will often be a very hard word to say.
No, no no no no no no no, and no, no no, no, there you see, honestly I promise you that it does get a lot easier to say the more you say it, or rather it needs to, and by the way, when you say it to a dog, you’d best absolutely mean no, because if you don’t absolutely mean it, it absolutely won’t mean no.
Simple stuff maybe, but you’ll not need any excuses for the way I’m about to make you feel, about you, once you’ve got to grips with the power behind using this very simple little word, effectively.
I don’t care why you are,
I just know that you are
Time’s up I’m afraid, sorry, but victim is a role that I can no longer allow you to play. Forgive me for continuing to keep hammering away on this particular nail, but I need you to understand that I really don’t care about so much in your life that you yourself seem to still keep getting so caught up on.
Whatever the reason may happen to be, you feeling sorry for yourself or thinking that you have no control over your life, may be an acceptable way of existing amongst your own kind, and regardless of whether or not other humans may or may not take advantage of someone who is like this, you being like this, or acting in this way, will inevitably lead to somebody like me questioning your supposed position of authority, over me.
It is commonly said that for a Hamster to enjoy a one week holiday, that they must go for at least two weeks. First week to come down from spending their life on the wheel, and then one week to enjoy the unfamiliar but still less heart attack inducing pace.
Yet, that same Hamster will be happy day after day to keep slamming the front door behind them as they make their way to his fridge door in order to wash away the day that they’ve just endured, whilst of course completely oblivious to the fact that I’m watching their every move, and yet they still think that they’re the sort of people whose hands I’d willingly put my life in during a time of crisis?
When your dog needs you, whatever your stuff may look like, for your relationship with him to work harmoniously, for him to see you in a leadership role, it is best you put that stuff down, because in effect, the one thing that scares Alfie more than the thought of a horrible slow painful death, is needles, and you just happen to be the nurse whose job it is to calmly give him a lifesaving injection.
If you can, I’d like for you to hang on to my nurse and the needle analogy for a while, for two main reasons.
The first is because by stepping up and taking responsibility for your dog, someone like Alfie is less likely to end up ever having to have somebody else give him an injection that neither of you would ever want him to have, and secondly, because I am aware that a stumbling block towards gaining any kind of control of their dog, in some people, will be due to those people not having the ability to see themselves as someone who could ever comfortably hold a position of authority, especially when it comes to being any kind of disciplinarian what so ever towards their little bezzy mate or beloved teddy bear.
Then ok maybe you should just go and get yourself a cat, unless of course you can and will continue to recognise that when a dog like Alfie gets stressed, the love he is looking for at that time is not affection, what he needs is somebody to be there and solid enough to convince him that everything is going to be ok, that the worst thing about him being scared, was him being scared once again for no reason, and you’ll do that, if, and only when, he sees you as an authority figure, and not just his buddy.
If he only sees you as his buddy, you’ll not reach him when he needs to be reached, because in times of trouble he’ll never listen to someone he doesn’t respect, and if he did, he’d have to be the first dog in history to ever do so.
The difference between just saying that you love dogs, and actually loving a dog, to him, will be defined in your actions and not words.
One of the problems associated with little Alfie’s behaviour issues strangely enough happens to be his size, and no I don’t mean that he had little dog syndrome, I mean that this little guy could go from flat out asleep, to flat out bow wow wowing running around like a rat on the Titanic within a heartbeat of somebody knocking on the front door, and by the time the game of catch the panicking piranha had come to an end, Alfie would be either burnt out and exhausted, or, right at the point of him nipping in to his favourite club.
Before we take Alfie any further out into the big wide world I just want to bring up one of the things that I said I wanted to talk to you about before we get too much closer to home.
I don’t want to side track you from where we are with Alfie’s progress but this is very relevant to what we are currently doing, and is sadly relevant because I see it as a sinister and silent cancer within the fabric of Great Britain today.
Just before Mr and Mrs Owner originally contacted me, it had been suggested by a vet, to them, that a course of an anti-depressants could maybe help little Alfie live a more normal life.
Please understand from my heart and soul that had I in fact been there at the time, a vet would have been one of nineteen people having a nurse read them their bed time story that night.
No dog ever needs this poison.
It is bad enough that you teach your young vital life skills such as algebra instead preparing them for a life as a human, and then later when they are struggling to be a human, they can end up going to somebody they are meant to trust, essentially for a hug, or some direction, but instead find themselves being put on high doses of a mind altering carcinogenic highly addictive liver killing pharmaceutical, by a person who is not even trained in human psychology, just the same as a vet is not only not trained in canine psychology, but more often than not, vets actually know very little about us at all, these people are biologists and drug pushers first with bills to pay and pensions to fund, they are not nor will they ever be, psychologists.
The really scary thing about this for me, is that apparently, at some point in their life, one in seven human adults here in the UK will find themselves taking these things.
One in seven, I seem to remember is a familiar statistic?
As you are about to hear, Alfie didn’t need his body killed off and his mind dissolved by pills, all he needed in fact was a different pair of glasses to see the world through, a little bit of confidence along with a few life skills of his own, and me, on the end of a bit of string, to make any pain he was suffering go away.
Ok just before we go back to little Alfie’s walk, I want you to glance down on your left side for a moment and take a look at that handsome and rather impressive looking beast whom has been walking by your side now for some time.
Note that as I’m walking I’m carrying my head not much above the height of my shoulders, my body is relaxed, my back has a nice soft arch to it and I’ve even maybe got a bit of a rather cool rhythmic swagger going on, if I don’t mind saying so myself.
My ears, please take a good look at and note the position of my ears, they are folded back laying flush against my neck, and if you turn around and look behind you, you’ll see that my tail in hanging down slightly pointing back rearwards in the direction that we have just come from. My shoulders are about in line with your legs, and the lead that ties the two of us together hangs loosely without tension, trailing effortlessly from your relaxed arm.
What a perfect picture of canine human respect and harmony we are then, and from now on, this is exactly how we’ll expect to see our little mate walking too, anything less than what I am giving you right now, from him, is unacceptable behaviour, and how ever inconvenient it may be to you, by anything, I absolutely do mean anything.
So should those bionic ears of his suddenly swing around from off his neck from in the submissive follower position in to the now alert sticking out to the sides of his head like a wing nut, after his head had also just suddenly risen up in the air, then yes, little Alfie has just seen something.
It is right at this moment, not a second later nor a second before, without hesitation doubt or guilt, when you must then jab him in the back of the neck with a big needle (no not really, I’m joking) of course don’t jab the poor guy with a needle, but I do need you to grab his attention like I have just grabbed yours, break his stride and bring his attention away from what he has just seen, whatever it was that just got him excited, and then calmly and rightfully restore his attention back on to you, his hub, his leader, his best mate, and the one who is not about to allow his own best mate to have to go through another traumatic meltdown.
Rapists Paedophiles and Murderers
are for some reason, always given a second chance.
Whereas we, your longest serving and most loyal friend,
are just given a lethal overdose of anaesthetic.
For many humans, the thought of walking through a door that they’ll never return back from, can sound just a little bit scary.
Even though they themselves might deep down wish that they or at least their life were different or that they indeed had the strength to be different.
But the prospect of walking into unknown, the loss of identity, or losing what they already know, can be enough to make them feel that moving on might not quite actually be for them.
But here’s the crazy thing, who exactly do you think I want to take away from you, who is it that you are trying to hang on to so vehemently, and what part of that particular self-assured life confident balanced genius can you not let go of, and why is it, that you automatically think, that by me giving you something you have never had before, that this will somehow naturally and automatically mean that you end up losing out, again?
Am I then somehow an inhumane monster intent on breaking little Alfie’s spirit, stealing his soul, and leaving him more broken than he was before, you must surely ask, why would I want to steal his identity, and in any case, how on Earth could I ever steal his identity, when all anyone can see of him is a nervous wreck?
If however, by personality, what you in fact mean is the scared Alfie, the little stress head that everyone has come to accept as the dog you dread, how this guy reacted to a life full of constant stress, that he had never once in his whole life been able to cope with, then ok yes, then I am indeed the devil in disguise, and I have come for little Alfie’s heart and soul.
I am going to take every bit of what had made this dog the way he was up until today, the guy his owners had both allowed to become, and then allowed to be.
Instead, I will now leave them with a dog who is no longer ruled by fear, so they can then get to know little Alfie for the first time, whilst I happily steal his supposed personality and take it straight back down to hell with me.
I know that I run the risk of sounding pious or self-righteous, especially when I suggest things like this little book, for some people at least, will take a bit longer to digest, than it takes them to read.
This isn’t a flippant throwaway remark based on the obvious undeniable inexcusable and unrelenting six hundred daily attacks, but it comes rather from what I see as a direct reflection of the reality, of what seems to me, to be the increasingly eroding effects that modern day life are having on human beings.
One unsettling fact about Britain’s dog bite statistics is that however alarmingly high they may seem to anybody today, they are sadly quite likely to be higher tomorrow.
Every year this figure keeps rising, indeed there are around twice as many people being hospitalised due to dog attacks today, as they were being back in 1991, when the Dangerous Dogs Act was first introduced.
Whether or not this ever growing trend of you being bitten indicates how much man may or may not be losing his way, or whether or not it proves that dogs just don’t either understand English or give a stuff about the Crown’s judiciary, it surely must however still suggest, that humans are becoming ever more detached from nature, especially when considering that this particular piece of pointless legislation also banned the dog breeds most associated as being the apparent culprits for most of the attacks that were happening back then during the early nineteen nineties.
Further futile legislation regarding dogs has of course also been introduced since 1991, in order to help bolster the original Act, rules tightened, fines increased, prison sentences lengthened, and whilst still continuing to blame me, somehow, for some strange reason, the bite statistics relentlessly just keep going up.
But then surely, if you look again at little Alfie, doesn’t he give you an inkling that something about these statistics just doesn’t quite add up?
Left unchecked whilst in the red zone, our very own little Jack the Nipper used to be allowed to get himself so wound up that given the chance he would have probably even bitten his own shadow, but in reality was Alfie aggressive, I mean was he even aggressive at all, or was he just completely misunderstood by people who were ill prepared to have had any dog in their care at all?
This then surely must I hope beg a question or two from you about the supposed daily six hundred attacks?
Had any of Alfie’s bites ever originated from a socially balanced state of mind, they would have of course proved that Alfie was to blame for his actions. But surely, the blame for how this little fellow often meets and greets the unknown must lay right back at the feet of his loving but unknowing selfish and irresponsible owners, whom although thought they had all the love in the world for him, had up until now, always not only just sat back and spectated as Alfie become the way he’d become, and however unwitting their actions were, they were still the ones responsible for having continuously encouraged him to be that way.
So was it ever actually Alfie’s fault, or should the Dangerous Dogs Act in reality not be retitled and refashioned to be the Irresponsible Owners Act?
My answer to that question is no, the Dangerous Dogs Act should not be renamed, just abolished, only because I know that no legislation will ever solve the real problem of dog attacks.
The only ones capable of bringing a halt to current trends are the humans themselves, and the only way of doing that wholeheartedly as a nation is through education.
You surely must have reached the point in your history when you come to see that regardless of what ever rules you might like to write or follow, who or where ever you might like to apportion the blame, if you yourselves are not going to listen to Mother Nature’s rules before your own, then surely how can you ever expect to do anything else other than fail?
Throughout this book, I have often referred to the daily six hundred, mostly because when I first found out just how many people were actually getting themselves attacked by dogs on a daily basis, I was of course shocked, even horrified, but sadly, not really that surprised.
This ridiculous number of reported attacks by dogs on humans only rubber stamped my belief that a lot of humans have quite obviously and very simply, forgotten how to communicate with their best mate.
The problem is then amplified by the fact that even if dog owners all suddenly woke one morning completely dog savvy, that would still leave the other six out of every seven people who aren’t dog owners left out there in the dark.
Whom, are still very capable of coming into contact with canines. Every fourth house in Britain is said to have a dog in it, there are one of us for every seven of you, and often if a person has never wanted to know anything about dogs themselves, either through fear or some other kind of irrational stupidness, they may still suddenly without warning find themselves in the company of a dog, and then also find themselves trying to sneak into the six hundred club just because, and only because, they have made a point of not knowing how to be around dogs.
The Green Cross Code was introduced into the Education System at the beginning of the nineteen seventies to help stem the unacceptable amount of traffic related accidents and deaths involving children on Britain’s roads.
It didn’t matter one iota whether those children were destined to go on and become petrol heads each intent on having their own fleet of supercars or eco-warriors intent on only ever owning a pair of sandals, knowing the rules of how cars play out in the big wide world, before you start having to dance amongst them, is a smart move.
I mean there surely isn’t much point filling your head full of all that algebra, if all you are going to do once you leave school is only ever look left every time you cross a road, is there?
Up until this point, here in Bark’s Code, if each one of the words in this book so far had represented an attack by a dog on a person in Britain, you will have only read yourself through less than six weeks’ worth of attacks, or roughly put another way, the equivalent to about one hundred and thirty infant children being hospitalised.
The question then must surely beg, that what else do you, would you, or could you, ever sit back and allow yourself to remain so in denial or ignorant about, that readily inflicts so much damage on so many innocent and helpless children, here in your very own back yard, not only year after year, but year after progressively and continually getting worse, again, year after year after year?
Or maybe you think I’m just getting over excited about one particular very simple bomb proof barometric statistic, after looking at it from only one perspective for too long.
I am aware that you could argue only six hundred attacks amongst seventy million people, means the odds of being bitten by a dog at any point of any day for a Brit, are no more than roughly one person in every one hundred and seventy thousand.
Funny though isn’t it, even at one hundred and seventy thousand to one, you immediately think oh well in the grand scheme of things and with those kind of odds, it’s unlikely to ever happen to me, and yet you spend two quid on a lottery ticket on a Saturday night with chances set against you at multi-millions to one, and yet you’re still genuinely surprised every time you don’t win.
However, as much as I have continued to go on about it, the daily six hundred wasn’t what compelled me to write Bark’s Code, that honour in part belonged to the clients that kept coming my way on an all too regular basis, along with the fact, and please don’t shoot me until I’ve explained myself about this, that I’d become frustrated at constantly having to repeat myself.
It is without doubt a very beautiful thing, and something I always consider to be a huge privilege to be part of, when you see a human reconnect, or indeed, maybe even connecting with their dog for the first time.
To be part of somebody overcoming the restraints of their self-deprecating attitudes and beliefs, and help guide them back firmly on to their rightful path again, is something that I would have been happy doing for the rest of my days.
To watch somebody that you might normally consider to be a bit of a door mat, a walk over, an easy target for the control freaks, an easy target for the drug pusher at your local Doctors Surgery, someone likely to say yes when you know they want to say no, someone who just wants everyone to be nice, someone who thinks that it is ok to come second all the time, someone who has no idea of their worth, someone likes to carry guilt around with them or who just continuously finds themselves being dragged around by life, is suddenly then not only able to draw a line in the sand to say, no more, but, also now has the life tools strength and ability to now calmly and confidently follow that statement through.
When you know that somebody is beginning to forget what fear means, then that is something I find easy to get out of bed in the morning for, every day of the week.
However, the big sad relentlessly nagging problem for me, was that during any of those same wonderful weeks, all around Britain another one hundred and thirty or so people were being torn up enough by teddy bears to need hospitalisation, with at least twenty of those victims once again being infant children, again.
My frustration hadn’t come from the size of the mountain, but rather, the heart-breaking reality in just how many more mountains there actually are, and this is what I meant in the very first paragraph of my code, when I asked where are you going and who have you let yourself become, or to be both more accurate and more to the point, I should have maybe asked you, what, have you let yourself become?
If the problems were in fact always the animals fault,
and never anything to do with human ignorance,
what then, does that make a whisperer?
I wasn’t driven to write Bark’s Code because of how many people get themselves bitten by dogs today, and every day, nor was it in knowing that every single one of those attacks should have been, and sadly, so easily could have been, avoided.
The frustration for me is in knowing just who gets themselves bitten and who doesn’t, and knowing that the only difference between the two is simply awareness and attitude by the humans themselves.
Knowing to look both left and right, before crossing the road, may feel like a most obvious life skill to you today, but it wasn’t to a lot of unfortunate children before the Green Cross code came along and taught you all how to dance safely amongst cars.
Constantly blaming me and trying to make your problems go away by banning, segregation or legislation, has only ever increased your vulnerability to something that is very unlikely ever to change.
Indeed the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act has surely only proved that it has been no more effective in bringing about an end to dog attacks, as Mrs Owner was at bringing an end to Alfie’s fear based issues, by locking him away every time he got scared.
Until human beings can themselves consciously take responsibility for their own actions whilst they are in the company of canines, who gets bitten and who doesn’t will always be down to me, and not you.
Cars have only been amongst us in any kind of dangerous numbers for the last sixty years or so, which is a blink of an eye when considering the suggestion that the first days of our two-species alliance, were around one hundred thousand years ago.
Wolf Ice Stone Bronze Iron Plastic
To me, one hundred thousand years sounds like a very long time to have known how to do something beautifully, to then suddenly somehow have forgotten how to do it at all.
Ok maybe there’s not much point in thousands of people becoming professional pyramid builders any more, and maybe it doesn’t matter why or how Stonehenge was ever built, by men without so much as metal let alone machines.
Many of the skills man has acquired through time have little or no relevance to modern man’s ways or beliefs in your modern world.
However, there are ten million of us, including guide dogs, trackers, search and rescue, hunters, sniffers, service dogs, therapy dogs, workers and companions a like, who need you to not forget who either of us is before you go too much further down the road that you most definitely seem to be going down.
Would it really hurt you to give me a couple of days out of the whole of your eighteen years of education, to reconnect with nature enough to allow respect and acceptance for each other through knowledge and understanding, rather than fear and denial being the bed rock for our enduring future together, here on this our one planet and only chance of life?
Wouldn’t it be at least useful for you to know why little Alfie looks as if he is shivering with cold as we get ready to take him out on his walk, on this beautiful warm summers afternoon?
The front door is wide open, little Alfie is attached to me by his collar and lead, sat on the floor by my side facing towards the open door, one of his front feet is raised slightly off the floor and as big as those bionic ears of his are, Alfie right at this moment, is all eyes, and trembling like a leaf.
Alfie may well have been franticly trying to get a fire going, but he was now attached to someone about as flighty as an Oak tree, who also knew that our little boy wasn’t shivering because he was cold, and as nervous as he may well have looked, that shaking had very little to do with fear.
Alfie had one of his paws raised off the floor, which in dog language means he was about to either strike, or scarper, either way he is telling me that if he were not on his lead, we’d all be playing catch the piranha again.
But thankfully he is attached to me, and we’re going nowhere until that foot of his is back calmly and squarely back on the floor.
The shivering is what happens to a dog when he finds himself in unknown waters, when he is confused, or, when he is going through a process of acting in a different way to how he would normally act, react or behave, in any given situation.
Alfie’s natural reaction to the unknown was often to run away, or if cornered or panicked, he’d make a lot of noise and attack first to make whatever it was go away.
Once Alfie has all of his four paws on the floor, once he has gone through his own little one way door and his shaking has subsided, when the intensity in his eyes has lessened, and his ears not so highly on alert, but most importantly, once Alfie starts engaging his nose towards the outside world, once I can see him smelling and not staring, and I can see him tapping into his most primal sense, once I know that this boy is now curious instead of just afraid and on alert of the outside world, once I see him wanting to follow his nose, then, and only then, am I going to take him on his first proper walk.
Without caring how long it takes, we’ll give Alfie all the time he needs before he is completely ready, and just a quick heads up to any hamsters freshly off their wheel, that even if you’re own meter is still running, please don’t forget that no matter what, he’ll only ever get where you want him to be, if you yourself, his hub, are already there waiting for him.
This is when we win little Alfie’s heart and mind, when we get to close the door on the past, and when we finally get to give Alfie a chance in life by at last gaining his trust.
By him sitting there getting over himself, by himself, in his own time, he’ll soon come to see that there was in fact nothing to be afraid of.
So, that is why for now, I’m not even so much as looking at him let alone give him eye contact, why I’m not going to acknowledge him whilst he is still in this state of mind, why I don’t talk to him, and as much as I might want to, why I don’t get all excited and start dancing around singing every little ting guna be alright, and I absolutely do not give him any human style physical reassurance what so ever, do we Mrs Owner.
We just wait, calmly, until he’s ready, whilst we soak up the moment knowing that Alfie is on a journey, and he’s the only one who can go through what Alfie himself must go through, and the best way for me to help him go through it, is simply by being there for him, never allowing any signs of stressful behaviour to escalate beyond a first utterance, and just keep being there for him, waiting until the only thing he is using those bright beady little eyes for, is looking at me, because then we’ll both understand that I, not he, is the one who’ll be deciding what happens next.
All without protest, without panic, without guilt, without pills, without drama, without feeling bad, frustrated, angry or stressed and without anyone getting themselves bitten,
and as I say that, right on cue, Alfie has now decided to lay down by my feet like a miniature sphynx.
Not only that, but this little superstar has also just folded one of his front paws back under his forelegs too.
Which in dog, means that he’s very happy to be staying exactly where he is, the complete opposite in fact of the stance of one foot being raised in the air whilst he is standing, or the flight-strike posture, just as Alfie himself was readily showing us only a few peaceful minutes ago.
Taking our time, and not allowing Alfie to crank up the panic will eventually allow him to finally start acting like a dog again, instead of just being an over sensitive intruder alarm.
I know it may seem strange to a human that smell rather than sight, would be somebody’s natural and preferred primary sense, the sense above all others that would have to be satisfied before that mind could ever be totally convinced about something, but for a dog, this is absolutely true.
The human nose is made up of around five million receptors, and those receptors then give humans their range of detectable smell, however somebody like a German Sheperd has closer to a quarter of a billion receptors in his nose, giving him a range of detectable sent infinitely more comprehensive than either you or your machines could ever dream of being.
I mean how else do you think I know that you’re pregnant or that you have cancer before you do?
I need Alfie to be curiously looking at the world through his nose, instead of reacting all the time to those defensive eyes and ears of his, because scent also plays a huge role in canine protocol, and without using his nose, Alfie is never going to make any friend, not ever.
When you meet a dog for the first time, it is important that he wants to smell you first before he wants to do anything else to you.
Even after excitable seemingly obvious recognition on sight, a dog will always double check that it is who he thinks it is with a quick seeing is believing sniff to rubber stamp what his eyes had first told him, a dog just cannot help himself, and if he doesn’t want to smell you, that means that he has already made up his mind what he intends to do, about you, doesn’t it Alfie?
Humans and dogs: you have retina recognition technology, and struggle to talk to somebody who happens to be wearing sun glasses; we have two scent secretion glands that spell out our name just on the inside of our anus.
Forgive my rather blunt reminder that our two species are very different to each other, but recognising and remembering this helps register the fact that our protocol is often very different from each other’s too.
For instance, I know that you are very unlikely to ever shake hands with a stranger, without having made eye contact with that person first. For a human not to give eye contact at this time would surely and immediately call upon all sorts of questions by the person being blanked?
Windows to the soul, eye contact amongst humans is of course very important, and sometimes even crucial in establishing meaningful communication, not in just how you meet and greet but how you naturally operate on a day to day basis with each other, indeed an awful lot can be said in all but the briefest moments of held eye contact.
But, just before you do your very natural human thing of making eye contact with a dog that doesn’t know you, or at least, a dog that hasn’t already shown you his acceptance of you, at this point, as you put the brakes on your suicide mission, please repeat rapidly, but calmly, the phrase, he’s a dog not a human six hundred club just about to happen, he’s a dog not a human, six hundred club just about to happen over and over in your mind a few hundred thousand times so to buy yourself some time and allow yourself to come to your senses enough to remember that you should never give eye contact to a dog, until you’ve shaken hands with him, his way, and in his time.
If you remember at this point how and where a dog writes his own name, and the fact that we are talking about introductions, you’ll maybe appreciate why a dog’s nose can often take him on a seemingly more gynaecological approach to saying hello to you than you may normally be used to amongst your fellow humans.
Might seem a little odd to you that the first thing strange dogs want to do when they meet each other is stick their noses up each other’s bum hole, but then how else are they meant to get each other’s name and number?
As with so many dogs in Alfie’s position, the origins of his behaviour problems had always been further compounded by the fears and misgivings of his owners.
They had shied away from allowing Alfie the chance of interacting with other dogs simply because of his ever-worsening anti-social behaviour.
His owner’s policy of hiding him away from problems had in fact again only ever gone on to make the problem worse.
He didn’t know how to be social amongst his own kind because fear had always got in his way, combining that with his owner’s inability to communicate with him in a language that he understood, and then topped off by him constantly being rewarded for being in the wrong state of mind, is why and how Alfie had become the pain in the backside guy that he’d become.
Imagine what kind of atmosphere a stranger would create in a room full of your friends, if a they had first gate crashed your dinner party, and then refused to introduce themselves or shake hands with either you or any of your other guests, might this not create a bit of an awkward situation for you all?
Unlike humans, dogs are unable to deny when there is an elephant in the room, if you went for a job interview and the guy interviewing you point blank refused to give you eye contact or shake your hand before the interview started, would you even think of staying long enough to say a single word?
Neither would a dog, only to them, if social protocol isn’t followed it will immediately become the most important thing on the agenda right at that time, nothing else will continue until protocol has been followed, or enforced, because this kind of anti-social behaviour will never be ignored or tolerated by a dog.
By the way, how are you feeling towards the guy who has not only just crashed your dinner party and won’t introduce himself, but further, is obviously intent on you never knowing who he is?
Has he got you feeling uncomfortable yet, defensive or even maybe hostile towards him at all, are you feeling the need to know who he is before your otherwise intimate and happy party can continue as it had been doing before this guy came along, has the mood of the party changed at all, has everyone stopped talking and maybe sobered up just ever so slightly, and is everybody at the party now jointly and solely interested in and focused on, knowing one thing, and one thing only?
This is what was happening to Alfie every time he panicked and refused to be sniffed by other dogs. By displaying that he had no intention of being social, he was not only denying the opportunity of having mutually harmonious interactions, but was also both automatically and instantly laying down a big welcome mat and opening the door to, the sort of intense behaviour that a nervous dog would then have every reason to be wary of.
Alfie’s own insecurities and over defensive fear of what might happen to him when meeting other dogs, was absolutely the reason he was getting himself into trouble with every other dog that he met, and why from now on, we must ensure that our little firework always remains calm, to prevent those first signs of him showing distress ever escalating into all out red zone panic.
At the start of this book I suggested that love was a big thing for all humans, and although love itself is an impossible thing to quantify, your version of it and mine are it seems to me, often poles apart.
However, those poles do often meet, and there is a is a wonderful prize to be won by those involved when they do, and you yourself, are only one simple walk away from being able to claim that very prize.
By the end of his next walk Alfie is likely to be looking at the person holding the other end of his lead in a way that will give you some indication of what love actually means to a dog.
Alfie is all but asleep laying at my feet, which tells me that our little boy is in the perfect state of mind to be taken out on his first proper walk, my suggestion and hope, is that the same can now be said of you.
With canine rehabilitation being what it is, my role in helping little Alfie is all but over, simply because unless I’m going to suddenly become his new permanent owner, there really is little point in me being the one who takes him any further along his road to rehabilitation, those responsibilities can of course, only belong to Mr and Mrs Owner.
However, there is an open door in front of you that leads out into the big wide world, a world that is full of possibilities and opportunities, with a dog at your feet who still needs a walk, and is just itching to show somebody how much he loves them, and I think it is time you found out just what it feels like to receive that look.
Because that look, like this walk, as indeed just like life itself, is there ready for you to go and claim as your own, and if you are prepared give both him and yourself a chance, Alfie will prove to you that up until now, the only person who has ever stopped you from reaping those rewards, has been you.
When you come back from this walk and hand Alfie back to his owners, after seeing the two of you together they are going to know that despite the amount of love that they have obviously always willingly given to Alfie, they’ll know deep down that they had never truly bonded with their own dog, as much as a complete stranger obviously just has.
A stranger who by the way so far still hasn’t told Alfie that he loves him, still hasn’t given him a cuddle a bone or a biscuit, doesn’t care when this his birthday is and would never think of giving him a Christmas present, just rules boundaries discipline and demands, and not only that, for the time being at least, somebody who makes him earn absolutely everything that I give him.
So, my dear old friend, in essence you’ve now read Bark’s Code, and in reality where our journey together ends and your own personal road must begin.
You have your one precious and personal chance of life to go and live for you, I have a few other mountains to climb and more bones to chew.
On your way home as you hand Alfie back to Mrs Owner, look her square in the eyes and proudly let her know that this is wonderful little guy is not only who her dog is, but who he’s always been, and do so with absolute confidence my friend.
I first met Mrs Owner in late spring 2016, one thing we of course couldn’t have known at that time, was that her own much beloved father, Alfie’s former tug of war opponent, would soon unexpectedly pass away.
By Christmas however she would be sending me text messages thanking me for how Alfie had become a huge constant source of support through a very difficult family bereavement.
Whatever you believe your fears or failings may be, it is worth remembering that on the day that I first met Mrs Owner, it would have been impossible for her to have imagined just how much of a rock, her then little pain in the backside dog, was soon about to become for her.
Depending on the mindset and life experience of a person, their imagination can often be a very detrimental thing to both their own person and their own potential for soulful happiness.
However, with Alfie’s help, I know that Mrs Owner is about to understand that with recognition of who we truly are, by putting your fears down and embracing nature, it really doesn’t have to be that way, at all.
To be published in 2018
Why do people insist on using the word rescue when describing their own dog, what exactly does rescue mean to them, and does rescue ever become rescued?
Maybe some see the word rescue as a badge that a particular unfortunate dog must now wear forever, or, I’d suggest sometimes there’s a possibility that this particular badge maybe something the owners themselves rather like to wear, but often, it is simply just the owners own self justified excuse for the lack of bond respect or understanding they might share with their own dog, the he was mad when I got him, so that’s why he is mad now, excuse.
Surely doesn’t a dog cease being a rescue dog when they leave the rescue centre, and isn’t this the same moment when the new owner then becomes ultimately responsible for their new dog’s actions and behaviour?
Dogs really don’t need martyrs with buckets of woe to carry their guilt around in for them, they need people who are going to accept them for who they are right now and then treat and respect them accordingly.
After all, when you meet your new dog, how they had been treated, how they had behaved and what they got up to in their previous lives becomes exactly that, their previous life, simply because you are not their previous owner and this is now, and not yesterday.
A common reason for dogs having ended up in rescue centres is of course down to the fact that cute puppies have a habit of turning into big dogs, and then often the only crime they will have committed as a dog, to end up in that rescue centre, will have been to have acted in a way most unbefitting that of a teddy bear, a cat or the baby that the selfish idiot who bought the puppy in the first place never had.
There is however one thing I know to be true of every single rescue dog, but this is no more true or relevant than can be said of any dog, rescued or not, and that is none of them, whatever their breed or previous history, ever lose their natural born inbuilt ability to keep on rescuing humans.
At the end of the 1980’s here in Britain, the problem of dog attacks had become so extensive that the Government banned 4 breeds of dog they believed to be the main culprits for the attacks, and introduced the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act. So successful has this hastily introduced Act been that a full generation later in 2016, an average of 600 people were bitten or attacked by dogs every single day, which is almost twice as bad as it was originally back in 1991. To me the most obvious flaw within the Dangerous Dogs Act itself has to be that when they put it together, the Government forgot the fact that most dogs cannot read, and as they are the ones with the teeth, some might suggest that this was a considerable and very naïve oversight. Many of the health benefits for humans, both mental and physical associated with dog ownership are well documented. Statistics will show that amongst other things as a dog owner you are 3 times less likely to have a heart attack than someone who doesn’t own a dog, but I suggest that this isn’t simply just because the dog gets walked and so in return keeps the owner fitter than his counterpart. For the last few years I have lived with and worked alongside a canine behaviourist, a man who is obviously both confident and happy in what he does, and although he says Britain already has enough dogs, he believes that 600 bites per year is too many let alone 600 per day, but he also wholeheartedly believes that every child deserves the right to be taught canine psychology and protocol as soon as they are able to understand it, and further, if this were to happen globally, world peace would soon follow. Something I noticed whilst working as a canine behaviourists assistant, was that it seemed no matter what type or breed of dog that we were called out to, or whatever issue that particular dog had, the remedy or guide lines he gave to his client for the successful rehabilitation of that dog’s behavioural issues, often sounded almost identical to what he had just said to the previous client, the client before that and the one before that too, day after day I kept hearing echoes from the day before. So, over the past year rather than just listening to what I’ve heard him say now many times before, I wrote it all down, and have called it Bark’s Code. The difference between having a canine behaviourist or a mechanic fix a problem for you, is a mechanic will identify the problem with your car and then fix it for you, whereas a behaviourist is more likely to identify the problem with your dog, and then show you how to fix it yourself, and that is why I knew this book had to be written. The transformations to be seen in a person who has gone from being somebody who has no control over their dog, to somebody who is no longer at odds with nature, although a beautiful thing, is not the only story here, I believe the real story is not so much what happens during the rehabilitation process, but how that person then sees themselves and how they then go on to live their life, afterwards. Bark’s Code is based on real events and real people, the turnaround in little Alfie’s life is just one example of what can happen when humans are brave enough to put their fears and the modern world down for long enough to allow their rightful reconnection with nature. We are all nature, each and every one of us, man’s attempt to forget or deny this is why we, your best friend, are currently reminding you 600 times every day that you have indeed lost your way, and no, I am not a behaviourists right hand man, I am of course, his dog.