Listening IS very important. I cue the young Newfs about this from the beginning, using the word, “Listen” separately from their name when doing attention training. This is the foundation for learning: to be able to learn, you must be able to listen. And, as I recognize at times, this goes both ways. If life is a journey, not a destination, learning and listening is a part of this process throughout life. This applies not just between humans, or humans and Newfs, but for all interactions with living creatures.

On Saturday, a hummingbird finally got through to me about the recently-filled feeder. These birds are very quick to communicate when their feeders are close to empty, and they are very curious, peering in through a window at humans, no doubt assessing where they need to find a human for notifications, as their energy demands are high and instantaneous. They will fly straight up to you and chirp, leaving no room for doubt about what they want. If you don’t “get it”, they may buzz past quickly in a secondary effort to get your attention. After filling both feeders (two is a minimum to reduce competition) just a couple of days earlier, I could not understand their persistence. Since they weren’t using the second feeder and the first was empty, I took it down to examine. The liquid smelled very musty. We have had rain followed by a surge in heat a few times recently, resulting in a “steam bomb” in the mornings and evenings. This is also conducive to mildew growth in the feeders. These birds can drain the small feeders in a day, so I get the ones with large glass bottles. Hummers are sensitive to residues of cleaners, so what leaches from plastics can’t be good either. The lovely hand-painted glass one had a tray that did not come apart for thorough cleaning, so that will be replaced by a standard tray.

Other creatures learn to communicate also, when you learn to listen. The cows will give you the brain-wave-transfer look. Annie, the big red retiree, will focus until you recognize that you are being “talked to”, and it’s usually easy to guess what she wants. In a moment of urgency, we may be summoned, such as when two young cows called persistently at the fence when our bull died suddenly a few years ago. Newfoundlands, who grow up with and live with people, learn an array of communication methods – verbal, body language, eye engagement. At some point, sooner or later, learning should result from listening, for both communicator and recipient. There is a lot more enjoyment to be shared when you offer some freedom of choice and don’t make all of the decisions. This is a trait shared by all good leaders, recognizing the motivation that comes from guiding and inspiring others and letting them learn to make good choices. The same principle can energize your relationship with your dog.

Yesterday I took Banner for a walk in the shade of the Ruby Jack trail, forgetting how little air movement occurs in the small channel between the trees and that a steam bomb was rising. We didn’t walk as far as usual, but further than we should have for a big black, heavily coated companion. As soon as she dropped back on the leash, it was clear that we needed to turn back and probably should have done that sooner. The last 200 feet were the hardest, with blaring sun and no shade. Even half a mile in shade with that kind of humidity is hard for a Newf. Until the humidity clears, we will keep our walks to the open air around the park. So, this morning, that was where we went. Within the first block, we ran into Jody, the energetic terrier, on his first or second walk. After yesterday, I expected Banner to have limited interest in walking. She hadn’t wanted to get into the van to leave. Instead, after passing Jody, she turned halfway down the block to cross the street going back to the square. With some doubt and concern, I let her choose, knowing that I would call a stop if she wanted to go too far in the heat. When she wants to choose the path, she moves a little in front of me and speeds up, then “changes lanes” at a turn. I pulled her to a stop to let a car cross and reminded her to look both ways before crossing a street. She is only about 75% on this, but she didn’t miss a check for the rest of the walk. She is “smarter than the average bear”, but sometimes her enthusiasm gets the better of her. That happens to most of us at times, so we all need to look out for each other.

She continued in a gait toward Crazy-catville. It has been a long time since she was interested in visiting that street. She smelled something under a parked car, then checked the window ledges and the alley, but there was no cat entertainment today. She continued in a gait, with me still letting her choose the way. Her choices now about distance and speed are fairly reliable, but today with the walk turning into a jog, I was slowing down. She turned toward the square and took the next block back to the park, choosing the sidewalk with shade. I quietly breathed a sigh of relief, as I was the one who would need a break, but that wasn’t to be the outcome. Instead of turning toward the van, she wanted to continue around the park. There have been times recently when she took the diagonal avenue through the park, and then circled, and once when she took the diagonal and that was all of the walking she was interested in for that day. But today I had no such luck. There was a lot less humidity this morning, so her capacity was better, and she fully enjoyed it. Heat is now returning, and at some point soon, the sidewalks will hold too much heat, being warm even early in the morning. There is a treadmill and air conditioning at home, but exercise without social interaction is a lot less interesting, although there are cookies. This morning there were several dogs doing the good service of taking their humans for a walk. That’s good for all of us.

In 8 days, she will be 8 years old. My how time flies past!

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2021
This entry was posted in Communications - a two-way art, Exercise and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply