My dogs are Husky Shepherd crosses. I have had them since they were old enough to leave their mom, and now they are over 9 years old. Over the years I have learned a lot from them. One being no matter how fenced in it seems you are, there is always, always, a way out if you want to leave bad enough. There is a way over, under, or even through, if need be. I have learned that if I am determined enough to get somewhere or find my way to something, there is always a way.
Some of their methods were using a nearby cedar bush to climb over the fence, and when I cut that down and added height to the fence, so they couldn’t jump over, they decided the best way was to go through the fence, (literally, through). When I discovered that and reinforced it they found a weak spot and just went under. When I moved, and the fence was 6’ high, reinforced and they were unable to go under they found that they could simply use the shed out back to get over, they would jump up onto the roof and then over the fence they went.
They have taught me that if you want something, to ask for it. Even when you thought there would be no way it would happen—you just might get a yes. Don’t self-regulate, if you don’t ask the answer is always no.
When they were young they were allowed up on the couch, they had their spots and they stayed in them. When we moved, there was a “no dogs on the furniture” rule which we all happily complied with for a few years. But then one night one of the dogs rested his head on the arm of the chair and gave his best puppy eyes and to everyone’s shock, he was allowed up on the chair. Now this is a regular occurrence (though only when they’re invited up).
They ask for treats by staring at us until we ask what they want and then they sprint to where the treats are hidden: being direct is the most effective communication. If you want something, ask for it in direct terms. Don’t beat around the bush, because, if you are not direct, someone might misunderstand what you wanted and you’ll end up being put outside, instead.
They have taught me that being there for someone is the most important thing you can do. They both believe that if someone is in a bad mood or upset that their being close will solve everything. And sometimes it does.
It doesn’t matter what is wrong, they don’t care, they just want us to be happy. So, if something is bothering someone, you don’t need to ask them what is wrong, it doesn’t always matter, just be there. Listen without offering advice, often they just need to get things off their shoulders.
They have also taught me do not, under any circumstance, be a pushover. One of our dogs has taken the alpha role and he runs toe to toe, bark to bark and snarl to snarl with the neighbours dog, who is much larger and years younger. But he never lets anything intimidate him. The other lets everything intimidate him but always steps up when the time calls.
They have taught me to trust my instincts. That if something does not feel right, listen to that feeling, even if everyone else around you doesn’t sense it, even if they are sleeping without a worry –always trust your senses.
This lesson was taught to me by our easily intimidated dog. We were out camping, our large and very protective German shepherd, and our other, now alpha, dog were both sound asleep, not a care in the world. But our sensitive boy would not settle down. We decided to listen to his instincts and we packed up our camp and started to drive out of the bush. Not far from where we were camped we spotted what he sensed. A large grizzly heading in the direction of camp.
I have trusted his senses completely since this day. And when a couple years later I was out running with him and he stopped dead in his tracks and refused to move –I listened, and we turned around and headed back.
Dogs, in general, have a lot they can teach people if we stop and listen, if we watch. They never hold grudges, or should I say, rarely hold grudges. They know how to ask for what they want, and they are very straightforward about it. They are determined and don’t let obstacles get in their way. And they understand how much just being there can help those around them.