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The Monks of New Skete: How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend

Well, I did it. I got puppy Freddy picked out, picked up and taken home in spite of E.’s nervousness about the entire gigantic (it took seven years for me to convince her) project. This is Ms. Em’s chance to do it right this time instead of producing (through her crass know-it-all tendencies) another crazy little dog. Almost all dog trainers, whisperers and psychologists agree that it is never the dog creating the behaviors these experts are called in to analyze and/or to remedy.  In Learning to Live with Fritz the dizzy diva plays a mea culpa role. She freely admits all the errors in her thinking and takes full credit for the emotional traumas she unwittingly caused

(her dog Fritz) in attempting to explain why I turned out the way I did. I was the despotic, dominant, Boss Dog who taught her how to love unconditionally. I pushed her to her limits.  I entered her life with my eccentric and willful personality fully trained … but as a strict teacher … never as a dog.  I have to admit, I did a sublime job on my unwilling student.  In the end (by Jove !) she got it

Since I have been concerned about the new pup in E.’s life, and her certain influence over the innocent creature’s developing personality …   I took a worldwide survey of dog trainers, dog lovers, dog books etc. until I had the answer to a very important question: Who has compiled, through experience and dedication, the perfect attitude on training a puppy?  What E. advises in (our) Chapter Five: Name the Puppy, Train the Puppy … is basically how not to train a new canine family member. Quite a lot of her advice is astute, usable and admirably self-critical.  However, the analysis of mistakes (often genuinely hilarious) and the conclusions drawn from a woman’s misadventures with one preprogrammed pup was not answering my question.

Wherever I looked for the perfect training manual … I found shortcomings and a serious neglect of the one most important element in the human-dog

Photo Credit: The Monks of New Skete

Photo Credit: The Monks of New Skete

relationship.  The spiritual aspect that (like it or not, accept it or not) exists between a dog and his “owner.”  Finally I found what I was looking for from the profoundly spiritual and utterly practical Monks of New Skete and their publications.  BINGO!  Everything I wanted E. to know has been researched and illustrated in a manuscript revised and updated in 2002.  I have to admit that I scanned the reviews for the one I liked best.  Library Journal says it all: “How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend is the most readable book on the dog training for the layman that this reviewer has come across. Any person who has ever thought of owning a dog should read this engaging book from cover to cover.”   I have to agree.  Imagine how delighted I was upon discovering that the monks have also published a book entitled The Art of Raising a Puppy

Granted, Ms. Em has pleased me with her courage to go the distance on her (my) dream. I can’t say that enough since it was my idea. I worked diligently to persuade her to see why the puppy project was essential for her continued lessons in living in the present moment.  On the other hand … I have observed brand new errors in judgment as she attempts to train her beloved Freddy.  Trying her best to please the new arrival (already a big mistake) she has unwittingly taught her pup a new word (and unfortunately the incomparable taste of) ‘chicken’ – Freddy has become a trembling mass of insistent instant gratification. Unfortunately for Ms. Em (extended kitchen duty) Freddy is now a genuine chickaholic and refuses all food presented in his supper dish without the expected freshly cooked chicken breast chopped small and sprinkled over the top of his Royal Canin mini bites for puppies.

 This is for you Freddy:

freddy pillow

My dear Pup,

You have probably noticed that the lady who took you away from your mother completely adores you but is at this time … acting a bit neurotic.  You are about to be saved from the ineptness of a frightened mistress trying her best to please you and make you her friend.   This is all wrong! She now has come full circle and is sure that she does not know it all … now she is afraid that she knows nothing!  Have pity on her. She is thoroughly confused.  She is especially nervous about your training and about how you 

will turn out.  Please understand that in her present state of agitation that it is impossible for her to do anything right. She will be making major mistakes with you. My only advice is: Relax. The cavalry is coming. I will find a way to get her to buy (or download) the above mentioned books, and this time … read them.

Your true friend,

Whispering Fritz

 

 

Bringing Freddy Home: Real Lessons in Being here Now

One month later our ‘Raiko vom Sonneneck’ was a nearly nine week old Bolonka baby and it was time for E. and her husband to pick up Freddy. Yes, in the meantime milady had to ‘fess up and tell all’. Surprisingly her Big Baritone was not at all displeased!  The first thing I whispered to puppy Freddy (while he was still a twinkle in Merlin’s eye) was that his main mission in life was to bond absolutely with needy Ms. Em. She had suffered enough dealing with me and my difficult daily lessons in being here now.

 

(Aside: In my lifetime I was in love with the man of the house. It was close to an embarrassing sort of hero worship for the Big International Baritone … but as I have intimated before … it was all for Ms. E’s good.  She needed to learn how to love unconditionally, even when she was not the object of love returned.  Read the book to get the real story on that.)

 

However, with this little pooch I am determined that Ms. Em’s story is going to be different. This pup (with my intense whisperings and on-the-scene guidance) will without a doubt be a momma’s boy.  I arranged the pickup trip, invited a family friend Rainer along to sit in the passenger’s seat along with his very own male Bolonka, Sammy. This was my genius idea to distract from Freddy’s sure fascination with E.s husband. I figured that then she could have the back seat to herself for the sole purpose of bonding; to become the Ersatzmutter to little frightened Freddy.  Frightened?  Yes.  How would you feel watching three of your siblings taken away by large baby-talking, cooing strangers? How would you feel if you were one of the last two puppies left to beloved but strict Momma Felice …  awaiting your fate?

 

I promise this is the last time I will steal a bit from E’s personal journal but she was closer to the situation than I. You’ll have to admit … it reads nicely ….

 

 “The day was bright and sunny as we drove off to the Nabinger home in Sonneneck where the same five lady-Bolonkas awaited our arrival. Again a glorious chorus of barking greeted us.  Halleluja!  Honestly, I was so nervous I could barely utter a word. It seemed to take forever until we got to see our darling (now five weeks older and more himself) at close range. Freddy was standing alone inside the large airy knee-high cage. He was looking up at us and was better than any photo. There he was!  Finally Freddy!

 freddynew

Freddy’s gaze told me he was a cute little bundle of love, full of spunk and fun, a handful to tame … with a dash of determined cleverness and skepticism thrown in for good measure.  The instant I saw him again I thought of Bel Mooney’s wonderful memoir: A Small Dog Saved my Life (www.belmooney.co.uk).  I wondered if Freddy might change my life. I surely don’t need saving but this snarky little critter might be exactly what I need to get back to myself … the self I lost along the way somewhere in the chaotic years after Fritz was no longer with us. The rush of loving feelings overcame all my rational thought processes as I scooped up my treasure.

 

I became one with this perfect moment. I was finally and once again here now with the tiny fellow I held in my (not so steady) hands. Everything to this innocent creature was brand new, exciting, interesting … alive and shining. This Freddy was an expert in living in this moment.  I was elevated to a new level of consciousness: Pure bliss.

 

Finally, after Simone Nabinger placed the spanking new halter (much to his chagrin and surprise) and leash on Freddy, we were off with our prize. One poignant moment did occur when Mama Felice seemed to be saying a uncomprehending sort of adieu to her penultimate offspring. As we led him off to our awaiting automobile  Felice followed Freddy for just a moment and then seemed to shake her head as she walked slowly back to her home.

 

Then Freddy was ours.  I sat in the backseat cuddling the trembling little fellow who kept trying to find a way to climb out of the speeding steel enclosure. He squeaked a bit here and there but all things considered; I had expected a much more dramatic first drive in a car.  I was determined that Freddy’s first experience in an automobile would not be anything like the one I produced for the twelve week old Fritz (Fritznote: See Chapter Five; Learning to Live with Fritz -page 26, paragraph 2 ).

 

Finally we had our baby at home.  He stepped out of his carrier acting just like he owned the place. And then we were once again … three!  After seven years without a dog in the house or accompanying us on trains, boats and trains around the world … in virtually every important opera house in the world … we were a triumvirate. Yes … as we were before … I could see it coming: three different military leaders, all claiming to be the sole leader … Oh! … but what FUN!”

 freddy2

(Puppy) Love at First Sight

In keeping with my Be Here Now raison d’etre, I was relentless in my insistence.  I could see that Ms.Em, if not suffering from a certified case of digital dementia was at least a victim of digital delusion. She was spending too much time in the cyber world marketing our book Learning to Live with Fritz to BE HERE NOW!  She was forgetting all the lessons I had taught her. In order to remind her of what is real and what living in the present moment means, I whispered, then suggested, then cajoled and finally gave up and commanded in my big boss Mafia voice: Get a PUPPY!”   E. finally heard me.  The idea became a passion … and suddenly was bigger than both of us.

Freddy entered the Earth Plane on January 4, 2013. He was born under the sign of traditionally headstrong but socially adept Capricorn. Freddy should turn out to be a sweet-tempered (if stubborn and social climbing) lapdog.  I definitely was NOT nor would I ever wish to fit into the lapdog category. How could I sacrifice the necessary authoritarian position I earned on the earth plane … to sit placidly on anyone’s lap or to look soulfully into a pair of human eyes? No way.

At long last I got E. into her car and on the road to Weidenthal-Sonneneck in the Pfalz region of Germany (lovely photos on this website: http://www.weidenthal.de/gastinfo.htm )  for her first visit with Freddy.  What a thrill!  E. was so excited that I was worried about her ability to remain in control of her automobile.  It was on this first drive that I gave her the pup’s designated name: I whispered

FREDDY- a variant of Alfred (Old English) and Frederick (Old German) The meaning of Freddy is “elf or magical counsel; peaceful ruler”

 

This should have calmed her hysteria. It did not.  Give me a few points for trying. Nevertheless, relentless doubts assailed her mind as she got closer to that first secret meeting.  Ms. Em was so worried about this trip. She had told no living soul, not even her husband … what she was up to. Even with the wonderful beneficent new name I chose for the pup, E. was a nervous wreck.  I guess I really did a job on her psyche when I was still pretending to be a dog.

On the German Autobahn, I kept reassuring my reluctant puppy mom that she was getting all green lights from The Universe on this trip. (Yes, I had to make it this dramatic.  I listed all the positive signs: the February roads were clear, no traffic jams, no snow, rain or fog to inhibit her progress etc.)  She finally reached Sonneneck, pulled up in front of Langeckerstr.12, the Nabinger residence and  … but why should I describe her first covert meeting with puppy Freddy when I can take an easier route?  Here is a look inside Ms. Em’s personal journal where the ex-diva describes her puppy love at first sight experience with four week old Freddy.

Freddy

Freddy

“I knew it was now or never.  I rang the Nabinger’s doorbell. Somehow the chorus of five barking Bolonkas was music to my ears. Bernd Nabinger, a tall, dark haired friendly sort opened the door. Bernd then introduced me to his wife Sabine whose dimpled cheeks and a hearty laugh convinced me I was in the right place.  They led me into the ‘nursery’; their spacious living room.  A huge playpen contained five softly snoring puppies. I took the viewer’s chair sat down. I was very nervous.  Sabine picked Freddy up and delicately handed me the tiny lump of white fur.

He was as light as a potato chip!  Freddy immediately began to shiver. At first I took this as a negative sign– was he ill, was he cold? No, he was hungry. This could have been the reason for Freddy shivering the first time he met me but then again it could have been a shivering of recognition?

 dog2

 Felice (a beautiful gray and white ladydog) sprang into the playpen fully intent on nursing all five of her offspring. Freddy was the first on the nipple and drank with gusto. Yes, no, yes, no … should I or shouldn’t I say yes to this pup?  I had already been instructed to name him Freddy by my ever-present mentor Fritz. My husband knew nothing about my secret mission. I shoved that thought to the back of my mind the minute I learned that Freddy’s sire had the name of MERLIN!  Ha!  Now this was a definite good sign!  

dog3

This darling Mr. Magic … named Merlin is the father of my Be Here Now instructor. Sold!  I had passed the Nabinger’s inspection with flying colors especially after I held up my copy of Learning to Live with Fritz. I put my 200 Euro down, signed a contract and as a final test I sang the opening lines of Tosca* in my highest loudest soprano singing: “Mario, Mario , Mario…”  I had to know if Freddy would react negatively to opera singing. Freddy passed the test. He didn’t move a muscle. He looked up at me adoringly. What a joy to know that Freddy will be able to tolerate sudden loud singing noises since his future will involve quite a lot of that. Now I shall have to confess to my big baritone since Freddy is a reality and will become part of our lives.  How will I do it?  I am not sure.  However,  what I am sure of is that I will be counting every minute of the next five weeks until I can take little Raiko (Freddy) vom Sonneneck home.”

 

Now I ask you, what can I add to that?

 

E.Rawlins sings Tosca on her You Tube channel

* http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXPTVb3_pyZWjQ4M3KQTJbw

 

Starting Your Puppy off Right! – Tips from Cesar Milan

Currently a bit too busy to help Freddy compose his “welcome” blog. Ms. Em is remembering how much work (and fun) a new puppy can be! I decided to do a little research, and luckily, I found some tips that might help her out from the great Cesar Milan. I’ve added them below in case you’re in need of a little guidance with your new furball, too. More Freddy updates to come!

-Fritz

Freddy at 10 weeks old.

Freddy at 10 weeks old.

 

People often ask me at what age they should start puppy training. The answer is immediately! Here are some quick tips on the steps to training and maintaining an obedient and balanced dog from the start.

New puppy owners often make the mistake of endlessly worrying about finding the right accessories, puppy treats, or bed. They spend little or no time thinking about how or what they will teach their new puppy. Yes, a puppy needs nutritious food and a safe, warm place to live, but another equally powerful and important biological necessity is the need for a strong pack leader.

Be the Pack Leader

Puppies are naturally hard-wired to follow a pack leader. A pack leader is, by definition, strong, stable, and consistent; traits many new puppy owners forget. Many of my clients are strong leaders in their jobs, but when they come home, they turn to mush with their dogs. Then they come to me puzzled as to why their dog won’t behave.

Puppies sense our confidence levels and will take control if they perceive us as weak. When this happens, bad behaviors, such as excessive barking, chewing, leash-pulling, or anxiety, will develop.

The most important thing you can do is become your puppy’s pack leader. This role doesn’t begin when your dog is six months old or when he’s bad; it should be maintained throughout the entire dog training experience. For your new puppy to grow into a healthy, balanced dog, you must demonstrate leadership from day one!

Housebreaking

All dogs become conditioned never to eliminate in their dens. From two to four months of age, most pups pick up on the concept of housebreaking quite easily since it is part of their natural programming.

In the early days of housebreaking you want to make sure the puppy has a place to relieve herself where she feels safe; a place that seems and smells familiar. First thing every morning, bring your puppy outside to the same general area. It is important to remain consistent throughout the process so your puppy can learn the habit.

Once your new puppy has successfully gone outside, it is important to reward the good behavior. It doesn’t have to be a big, loud celebration, but a simple quiet approval or a treat can get the message across of a job well done.

And be sure not to punish your puppy for an accident or do anything to create a negative association with her bodily functions. Stay calm and assertive and quietly remove the puppy to the place where you want him to go.

Dog Walking

Please find SAFE ways to exercise your puppy too! As your puppy’s pack leader, you must help to expend their energy in a productive way. For all dogs, this means a daily walk.

Walking in front of your new puppy allows you to be seen as the pack leader. Conversely, if your dog controls you on the walk, he’s the pack leader. You should be the first one out the door and the first one in. Your puppy should be beside or behind you during the walk.

Also talk to your veterinarian about the risk of long-term bone development problems, parvovirus, and other health issues before implementing an exercise routine.

Visit to the Veterinarian

One of the cornerstones of good health for your puppy is regular veterinary care. It is crucial that your puppy maintains a nutritional diet and exercise routine to stay healthy and balanced. While a lot goes into keeping your puppy in good health, it all begins with the first visit to the vet. Refer to the following list of the veterinary or health related concerns that will come up during your puppy’s first year for more guidance.

Read more: http://www.cesarsway.com/tips/basics/starting-your-puppy-off-right#ixzz2PV4NCj3R

How I Can Change Your Life

mycouchTips on Transformation from Whispering Fritz

Let’s get this straight right now. In the English language man’s best friend … spelled backwards … is God. That’s right … dog. I am (or was) a dog. I am not trying to make a big thing out of this god thing nor am I proposing deity status for myself or any of my esteemed canine colleagues … but there is something godlike about those of us belonging to the Canis lupus familiaris family. Like it or not, believe it or not … it’s the truth. Dogs have a special ability to

communicate with loved ones (and we do love you) that starts in puppyhood, matures with time and continues even after we have left the physical plane of existence. I am not an expert on the communication skills or teaching talents of all the other categories of working animals or beloved pets, but I am sure about dogs. Yes! If you humans are properly tuned in you may receive sound advice and guidance from your four-legged furry comrades. Our primary goal is to form a bond of close companionship (bordering in some cases on the symbiotic) with our ‘owners’. We pay attention to the smallest of passing thoughts and we react. We teach lessons about love, compassion, responsibility, loyalty. If you mistreat us … you will learn a lot about sassy misbehaving (I did a lot of that) which can accelerate and then there is the distinct possibility that we take a bite out of someone to prove a point or just as a conditioned response to cruel treatment. We have long memories and just as with Homo sapiens, all of us are not as evolved as others. However, for most of us, our greatest joy and mission on earth is to accompany our chosen human or family of humansthrough specific time periodsor life passages. This tail-wagging companionship cum advisory mission does not, contrary to popular opinion, end with death. I refuse to debate the question: “Do dogs have souls?” We do. End of discussion. We operate from a place most humans only hope exists … but fear it does not. Let’s take the idea of “beyond the Beyond” and run with it. I, Fritz, have already passed into that space and am constantly communicating with my earthly student, a certain Ms. Em. I am perhaps an extreme example since I have had to use force and a number of terror tactics to get my unwilling target to take me into her care so I could teach her the lessons she needed to learn. Here I am again trying to push her into doing something that is important for the marketing of her (my) book; Learning to Live with Fritz and once again, she rebels.sku-000126676

I refer to the act of writing a blog. My debuting author E. Rawlins was an international opera singer, a person with a voice and two hands that could type and take dictation. Little did she know that singing would give way to writing as I took over her life. I am not ashamed to admit that I forced her to write our story to give more humans a chance to get off the merry-go-round of their ‘me-oriented’ existence and get a bigger picture of what is really important. I am reporting in from out here in the Quantum Field where every service-directed action, every kindness, every act of compassion counts in the race for spiritual enlightenment. Billionaire status, fame, a private jet or your iPhone 4Adele’s 21 or even a Lana del Rey CD may make you momentarily happy but will get you nowhere fast … as I see it from here. It has taken many years of prodding but my unwilling author has done it. All of her kicking and screaming ignored, I have manipulated her successfully to the very last phase of the book project. However, when she read the word ‘blog’ (discovered in her social network marketing questionnaire) she balked big time. She hadn’t a clue about blogs! So, I whispered the most logical thing I could think of ( into her left ear … my traditional modus operandi) to spur her on. I reminded her that she couldn’t really call up Stephen King or posthumously contact John Steinbeck or Silvia Plath for writing tips. I told her simply to ask her sister[1] who has just published a book entitled Skinny the Cat and the Magic of Kindness[2]She would know how to do it! Miss Em’s publishers suggested that if she couldn’t think of anything else, she should start out with the second chapter of the soon-to-be “outthere” book, Learning to Live with Fritz … as a teaser. This chapter describes my voice as I order her to enter a Manhattan pet shop (using my powerful Mafia boss whispering technique) and she actually walks out with me (tugging her toward her destiny) on my spanking new leash. This chapter is lots of fun. Every word of it is true. For human understanding, this chapter is just far-fetched enough for potential readers to be intrigued. They would want to buy the book (that’s the point, n’est pas?) and find out what I (then a willful and psychically gifted twelve week old Maltese puppy) did to upset my dizzy diva’s lifestyle in the operatic fast lane. Since narcissism was my diva’s major for all the years leading up to my dramatic entrance in her life, her first attempt at blogging was less than interesting. It started out to be all about whom? Of course, it was all about her and barely a word was lost on me, Frizbee otherwise known as Fritz, hero of a book about one crazy little dog who changed her life. It was then that I decided to take over the blog writing responsibilities. Note to Ms. Em: Try to understand that this blog is a promotional tool for our book and we will have to begin writing these blogs together. Learning to Live with Fritz, no matter how comical, magical, mystical and life changing a book it is … will not sell itself.