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New and further thoughts on good dog training and nutrition

Weis Markets is now carrying Springer Mountain Farms chicken–nothing to do with English Springer Spaniels, although they do love leftover chicken and, of course, hard- boiled eggs. As a result, I have been reading about poultry that meets the American Humane Association (AHA) standards for farm animals. AHA requires Athat animals be raised in ways which reduce stress, and with adequate shelter, comfortable resting areas, sufficient space, proper facilities and the ability to express normal behavior@. There is a seal on this new chicken at Weis that reads AAmerican Humane Association (AHA) free farmed certified@. To earn this approval the grower has to be inspected and approved by AHA–not a government agency or consumer group. The package also reads: no chemical medicines administered, no antibiotics ever administered, no animal or poultry products in feed and no growth stimulants or hormones, fed an all vegetable diet. I bought a package of thighs and used a coupon. It is found next to the other brands. The cost was slightly more for a similar amount but I count the additional cost as my contribution to a better life for all. Like so many others, there is less and less disposable income in my budget, and encouraging humane care is important. By the way, AHA–which dates to 1877–was the pioneer partner with the American Red Cross in setting standards for pet disaster care, issuing the first published guidelines. A review of these guidelines reveals advocacy of mass euthanasia of stray and abandoned pets and body burning. This was at a time before the human-animal bond was recognized as an important link in being human. The AHA also gives equal attention to humane care and the education of children–the only national organization to do this. Since this is my first Springer Mountain Farms purchase I think it only fitting to make chicken soup–chicken soup with a soul!

On to dog trainers–there are too many bad dog trainers and they do such harm. I fear more people will decide to become dog trainers to help supplement their income. We will all suffer–especially our dogs. You never really get to know the man or woman who teaches a dog training class, yet they will influence your friendship with your dog and perhaps your life together. Because we own a dog, we are never unloved or unwanted. It might be a little easier to follow training instructions and reinforcement schedules if we knew something about the person teaching us how to handle this wonderfully important relationship. If I personally don=t want a person for a friend and a guest in my home, then I feel I don=t want him or her helping me to train my dog.

There is a book by Job Michael Evans titled ATraining and Explaining, How to be the Dog Trainer You Want to Be@. The book contains some wisdom from another favorite author, Carol Lea Benjamin–If you don=t have a sense of humor you probably should not have a dog@. And from Job, Awear practical, but beautiful clothing–people must look at you for the whole evening so make it a treat, not a torture!@ His advice to trainers and dog owners is to Akeep a journal to record your observations and hopes@. Job=s first book was AHow To Be Your Dog=s Best Friend@. He later said he felt this was a bad title. He believed that too many people tried to make the dog a friend when they should recognize a dog for himself and say ALet=s Be Friends Together@. Job was always concerned about ethics and honesty. He wrote, ATake time to love. Everything you do with dogs, including falling in love with some of them will flow out of that developed love.@

I have a wonderful videotape of Job teaching pre-schoolers how to interact with dogs. There is such gentleness and kindness in his instruction. Perhaps we should teach this before anger and aggression take root in our young people. We have always felt dogs were like children in so many ways. Thus, it is perhaps important to note that ASeeds of Compassion@, the meeting with the Dalai Lama on teaching compassion that recently took place in Washington State occurred at the location where the human-animal bond was born. Leo Bustad, a veterinarian as well known for his horrible sports jackets as the Dalai Lama is for his saffron robes, authored the book, ACompassion, Our Last Great Hope@. If dogs are allowed in the Dalai Lama=s heaven, then I am sure he will meet this wonderful veterinarian.

Apr 20, 2008 | Comments are off | American Humane Association, Job Michael Evans, Leo Bustad, Springer Mountain Farms, Uncategorized, human-animal bond