You’d never believe it from the way she acts, but Kim and I took Annabelle to two different trainers.
I may not be remembering this right but I think the first trainer gave us our money back.
Dog training is partly about training the dog but mostly about training the owners. The second place we took her was much better at training us. The second place was much more like the place we’d trained Tara when Kim and I first got married.
The first place had a bunch of exercises we didn’t really understand. The one I remember the most was a Zen exercise for the dog. You held treats in your closed fists on either side of the dog. When the dog ignored the treats and looked at you, you gave the dog one of the treats.
The dog had to not want the treat to get the treat.
More accurately, the dog had to be able to “see beyond the treat” to get it.
Annabelle is not an enlightened sort of dog.
She didn’t see beyond the treat as lose interest and glare at us til we stopped teasing her.
Probably my assessment of her is unfair. It’s not that Annabelle isn’t an enlightened dog. It’s more that she’s a dog. She thinks like a dog. She acts like a dog. What else should we expect or want?
I was thinking back to this time last night as I hung out at home with Annabelle.
Maggie had to work at the mall.
Annabelle and I were spending Valentines Day evening together.
I’d eaten through most of the gift Maggie gave me – a family size bag of peanut M&Ms and thought I should eat something more substantial. I heated up the last of the Cinnamon Beef Soup I made last week and Annabelle and I had dinner.
We cleaned up. Maybe not so much “we”, but that’s ok, she’s a dog. We headed into the living room to watch the Cavs game.
At half time I wandered into the kitchen to make popcorn and Annabelle followed me. We split the batch and then we cleaned up. That’s the same “we” as before.
We headed back into the living room for the second half. Annabelle settled into her chair and I returned to the couch.
Valentines Day and I was completely content being at home with my puppy.
It reminded me of before I was married. There was a long stretch where I met women where we just weren’t right for each other.
Something had to change.
Either I had to change or they did.
I figure I have more of a chance of teaching my dog to help me clean up after dinner than I do getting other people to change.
So I changed. And I got happier with who I was becoming. It’s still a process. I’m not saying I’m happy, but I’m happier.
And I got comfortable being alone.
And like that Zen dog-biscuit thing, once I was happy being alone I was able to not be alone.
I thought of that last night because everyone had worried that I’d be miserable on my first Valentines Day alone.
I was fine.
Just me and the puppy, hanging out, watching the Cavs.
Not that I don’t miss Kim. Of course, I do.
Not that she wasn’t the best thing to ever happen to me. Of course, she was.
But, just as that time before we were married, this has nothing to do with other people. This has to do with me.
I’m back to being happier with who I am becoming. It’s still a process. I’m not saying I’m happy, but I’m happier.
I’m comfortable being alone.
The thing that Kim and I didn’t like about the Zen dog-biscuit thing is that you are teaching the dog to ignore the hand with the biscuit because you know she’ll be given one.
If I open my hand and it’s empty, Annabelle can’t say “where the heck is my biscuit.” She’s got to be happy with me using that hand to scratch her ears or pat her head.
It can’t be about the biscuit.
You don’t ignore the hand and look at the person because that’s how you get the biscuit.
You ignore the hand with the biscuit because you don’t care if you get one or not.
You have to feel complete sitting there without the biscuit.