Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Reflections and Reminiscences

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

I suppose the theme of this post is that tired old standard: Don't forget to stop and smell the roses. My dogs often help me with this, and my short tale for today is a tip on remembering to enjoy the little things in life.

It's funny how the smallest, most imperceptibly, unimportant occurrence can trigger something in my brain that takes me back to a long ago memory. These odd little surprises seem to happen almost daily, when I suddenly find myself back in third grade, remembering a teacher's comment or the chide of a classmate. Most times I am able to connect an emotion that triggered the time travel in my head to whatever I am experiencing in the present. Although Tuesday's tips are usually relative to food, I couldn't leave this topic unwritten, so you'll have to forgive me while I take this opportunity to reflect, reminisce or, well, just think freely as my fingers fly over the keyboard. It's good therapy.

Today Oliver, my Papillon puppy, did a shoulder stand while outside in the grass, just after I praised him for taking care of business. Suddenly I was back in about 1996 when Xena, our first dog, began to do this same acrobatic move. I remember asking vets, trainers and friends what this silly maneuver meant in dog communication, learning nothing from anyone. Finally, I purchased a book called How to Speak Dog, which had just been published and was being advertised. Sure enough, the answer was buried within. A doggie shoulder stand, according to this author, means something akin to "I'm enjoying what just happened" or "I'm happy about what's going on". Bottom line, it is a communication of pleasure and happiness. This immediately made sense, since I was aware that Xena often displayed her shoulder stand when given affection, a treat or praise. So, now I wonder, why doesn't Tanner employ this cute move, if only to get the affection or treat that his playmates earn for it? Is he too tall and awkward to perform this pose? Perhaps this is it. He is still built like a lanky teenager who hasn't yet filled out--tall and thin. Highly active, he runs 2 miles and swims every day of the year, along with Agility (obstacle courses) classes and dog park visits. All this makes me exhausted, and yet seems to leave him wanting more. The picture of Tanner above is a typical one for him...goofy and playful. Back to my question, though. Is Tanner happy? I guess the answer is in his tail. It is constantly wagging happily, so I'll accept this as his doggie smile and move on. How is your doggie shoulder stand today?

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