Love or what?

When the owner´s need to be loved gets in the way…

Very often we humans think that love is something we get in return for delivering something. “Who do I love?” “The one who gives me what I want” seems to be a common belief.

This belief causes us to trade commodities for love and we suppose that if we give our dog what she wants she in return will love us. If we do not give him what he wants he will not love us and if we stop him from doing what he wants he will not love us either.

Very often this subconscious belief system does more harm than good.

How do we know what our dog really wants? Being humans we often think that a dog wants the same as a human being would want in a given situation therefore we project our own desires onto our dog.

This brings to mind Frankie, a barrel on legs who was actually a young Labrador with a charming personality but hardly able to run and play with other dogs.

Frankie belonged to Joe and Sue, a very wealthy couple. As Sue told me, Joe believed that “love goes through the stomach” as the old German proverb has it and therefore shared all his favourite cakes, pasties and sweets with the dog – but Frankie paid a terrible price for this since his obesity completely curtailed his life as a happy, playful young dog. Instead of running around with other dogs all Frankie could do was go for one slow walk a day… what a life.

Less obvious but still on the same lines is the case of Sarah, a young Alsatian bitch who would not come when called.

Sarah’s owners believe that a dog must be able to run free in order to be happy. Trouble is, Sarah has taken to chasing deer in the forest and it is really dangerous for her to be let off the lead.
Anyway, in order to be perceived as “good owners” and to be loved by her, her owners always take a chance.

They have had dogs before and terrible things have happened, like one of them chasing sheep and causing premature birth in lambs…

This couple loves their dogs dearly… Sarah has so far chased a deer into a swimming pool where it drowned – guess who got the blame?
“Our dog only loves us, if we let her off the lead” is the silent assumption under which their actions operate and so they keep repeating the same mistake over and over again – regardless of their knowledge that it is a mistake to let their dog off the lead.

Sometimes you’ve got to be cruel to be kind AND that may mean that you’ve got to use your brain to guide your actions.

  • Who says that your dog will love you if you make his wish your command?
  • And who says that he will not love you if you frustrate his wishes?

Dogs love unconditionally but often the human mind is unable to trust in that simple yet universal fact.
Whether we believe our dogs love us or not – it still is our responsibility to provide safety and a healthy lifestyle for them and they will reward us with their happiness and emotional health.

Remember: an unhappy dog has the power to make his owners very unhappy and a happy dog can cheer almost anybody up with his good mood and loving, lovely ways…

Annelie