An early Sunday morning rain is falling, tapping out a broken cadence on the spring green canape that shelters me from the misty day that surrounds me. The woods are quiet; a peaceful serenity overflows as I take each step deeper along the woodland trail.
This is my joy: the place where I come to find my personal peace, and also to connect with with my spiritual base. Elsa, my young bullmastiff follows along in a self-positioned heel, groveling with her silly grin for attention and play. I smile down at her. She is happy, and so am I. In a sudden burst of uncontrollable energy, she is off, chasing a marauding squirrel that dared venture out of a tree to the forest floor that Elsa rules with a watchful eye. She is fast and agile, and deliberate in her actions, but always less than effective in catching up with intended prey. This pleases me.
Athletic for her breed, Elsa resembles an Olympic sprinter, leaping over fallen trees, pouncing and circling in spurts of craziness. She tackles one of the many sticks and branches that cover the ground, wrestling in sheer delight, inadvertently destroying the helpless victims of her puppy-like battle. I smile as I watch her, delighting in her pure joy. She is the epitome of happiness and worry-free abandon: safe and secure, trusting and attentive. We are in sync. She is my girl, my companion, and, in many ways, also my teacher.
As I walk today, I marvel at how much joy she possesses, the joy she displays, and how much joy she imparts to me. I think about what I owe to her as her human, her guide, her protector, and her teacher. What stands out more than anything else is that I owe her the preservation of her joy. In every action, reaction, and interaction, everything I do and everything I teach, I owe her a level of communication that, at the very least, preserves her joy, and, at its very best, enhances it.
I am a trainer of animals, but also of people. It is my goal to teach each of my human students to let their joy shine, so that they may teach in a manner that preserves and builds upon the joy in their own lives, as well as in that of their companion animals.
It is also my goal that, through this blog, I can share with you the spirituality and philosophy that guides my teaching, my communications, and my relationships with the animals and humans in my life. I believe that how we treat our dogs (and other companion animals), and the relationship we forge with them, is a direct reflection of our own joys, pains, shortcomings and also our virtues. It is not just what we teach, but even more so, how we teach, that matters.
I invite you to share your thoughts and comments with me and others who read this blog. Thank you for reading!