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February 4, 2022

Zen & The Art of Walking the Dog

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Written by: Bob Guere
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Reposted from: FRiSKY FiTNESS

Fred and I are thoroughly enjoying a couple of days with a friend in San Diego following our time in Long Beach. As always, we are using our time together for two purposes: to work and to play. One of my all-around favorite activities is to walk/run with dogs at night. Not only is it freeing and fun, especially in a city that is new to both Fred and me; it also provides the context for important training and practice.

Fred, at ten months old, is going through a challenging new phase where he gets overly excited and over-stimulated on walks. If another dog enters the scene, even as far as two or three blocks ahead of us, Fred starts yipping and barking and pulling on the leash. As so many of you understand, this kind of issue is very frustrating. It is especially so with regard to a service dog in training that has only a couple of months left in which to train.

So. We use night runs — past duck ponds with fountains in lively cities — as a way (for both of us) to practice being CALM in high-stimulus environments. It’s a paradoxical practice in zen: We use what naturally gets us worked up as a means of relaxing. In the midst of heightened sound and smell and movement, we practice slowing down and taking deeper breaths. At the height of my desire to maintain control, I let go. Instead of trying to “make” Fred behave a certain way, I envision — from a place of quiet resolve — seeing it happen naturally.

For all of our hard work and concentration in Long Beach, we’re rewarding ourselves with some laid back rest time in San Diego. We will hit the road back to Tehachapi tomorrow.

Until then, Mutt Militia, Go With Dog!

- Liz

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