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You Are The Greatest Teacher
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From the author
  "This is one of several lectures I use at my book signings. The important thing is to get the words out there, in as many ways as possible, and I hope your readers understand that this essay is meant for them."

  Having a kennel and loving dogs, I’m lucky enough to meet a lot of people they are important to; people from all walks of life. Today, the dogs we love and care for have a great affect on how we look at the world around us. Dogs are in the news, in movies, books, and all kinds of advertisements. What is their appeal? We know the answer to that. Dogs appeal to every sense we have, from visual to touch, and the magical result is the most powerful appeal of all … emotional.
  Forget about the evolutionary history of dogs and worrying about how they may have come into being. Forget about making television documentaries about which breed was the “Original Dog” and traveling to exotic places to find the last remaining members of that breed on Earth. That’s all grand in a National Geographic kind of way, but the truth is lost in so many forgotten memories that it doesn’t matter to the dog in your life right now. What matters is the diversity of this species, and the possibility that there was no single original breed.
  Do I believe in spontaneous genetics and things like that? Oh, yes; very much so. I also believe the emotional make-up of a living creature, and its mentality, are affected by its physical appearance. But, that could be my years of dog shows, raising just about every breed of dog there is at one time or another, or the artist in me speaking.
  We all know our own personalities can rub off on our dogs. We know dogs are different from cats or birds or horses and other animals in their basic nature. Along those lines, customers at our kennel often ask which puppy in a litter is the ruler, which is the most loving or which is the most playful. Sometimes, when looking at a puppy by itself and searching for an emotional connection with this prospective fur-child, customers will ask if I think the pup will turn out this way or that. When I say it depends on them more than anything else, they are often surprised. “The dog is going to learn from you,” I say. “You are the greatest teacher.”
  Here at our kennels, sometimes we raise whole litters together and we have a graduation system, like in school. Littermates start out together, but as they become more dominant, or according to their growth and the special feeding they may require along the way, they move up the ladder into the next run. They haven’t lost sight of their littermates because they are in the next kennel run beside them. And the new kennel mates aren’t strangers either because they’ve been housed next to each other for a while. The result is, our litters don’t have just one dominant pup with a bunch of followers. Instead, what we have is a bunch of confident, independent thinkers.
  When I say, “You are the greatest teacher” I’m not speaking about rigid discipline such as one endures in Obedience classes. Maybe “rigid” isn’t the right word for that, but I think it illustrates the difference between fundamental training and the invisible “something” beyond that which develops between you and your dog just by traveling the same path in life. In my novel “Fate of the Stallion,” this mysterious bond is expressed in a scene where Dan Marshall senses the presence of an Arabian stallion running along the river beside him. The horse seems to be calling him, as if saying “Find me! I am yours!” and the story reveals the parallels of their lives, showing how man and stallion share the same fate. Likewise, in “The Blue Ribbon” a novel set in the competitive world of dog shows, there is a scene called “Miles To Go.” In this scene, Robert Sheffield, a dog show judge loved by two different women who own rival kennels, is hiking in the Canadian woods with his dog, reflecting on love. If you’ll notice, the path in the woods symbolizes Robert’s own path in life, and his dog is right there beside him. Like many of us do, Robert is thinking to his dog in a mental conversation, wondering if he has made the right decision by letting the woman he really loves slip through his fingers. Among the trees, the dog sees a deer, runs after it, but, of course, the deer gets away. “She got away?” Robert asks. “It’s OK, fella. We’ve got miles to go.” In those miles, will there be other deer? Will they see the same deer again? I wasn’t sure when I wrote that scene how it would turn out.

Ron Hevener @
Author, “The Blue Ribbon” and “Fate of the Stallion”
  These stories may not necessarily reflect the opinions of this website or it's employees.
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