Thursday, July 21, 2011

Smiling at your dog

I was reading a devotional this morning, and I came across this section:
We can affirm with eye contact, too. Try smiling at your child with your eyes. We often convey discipline through our eyes; but we can also communicate warmth and affirmation with our eyes.
It reminded me of my first obedience lesson with the late Al Breece. He lived outside of Columbus, Ohio, and trained seven or more CH OTCH Belgian Sheepdogs and Tervurens. His great CH OTCH Houdini sparked a love in me for Belgian Sheepdogs, which resulted in my getting Houdini's nephew Ian a few years later.

I took Reece to Al for obedience lessons. Reece was only about a year old, and he had some fear/reaction aggression issues, which he grew out of by 2 years of age through training. The first thing Al did was just look at Reece and smile. Reece relaxed his body posture and wagged his tail. Al looked up at me and said, "Well, good. He knows what a smile is."

I wish I had not been so intimidated at the time and asked Al why he did that. Today, I can make a few guesses. But it has always made me smile at my dogs, just to tell them I think they are great. I caught myself doing it just this morning, in fact. It usually makes that dog wag it's tail, and then another pup (usually Devon) will be jealous that someone's getting attention and they come to me for attention; leading to me being surrounded by everyone wanting their share of attention.

But I still think it's nice that my dog knows what a smile is.