Puppy Freddy is at this moment (I try to get my teachings about living in the NOW… as often as possible) benefiting from my magnificent discovery! After consulting the books on puppy training by the dedicated Monks of New Skete, (who have been breeding and training German Shepherd dogs for over thirty years) I persuaded Ms. Em to do their inseeing exercise. You can try it too. Get down of the floor and look around … then look UP!
By doing this you get into the puppy perspective. Do you see the huge, looming potted plant with those enticing, droopy leaves? Notice that electrical cable-salad… all multicolored and twisting deliciously around the desk. Ah yes! The DESK… where something omnipotent rules the huge space that is your new human’s den? Are you able to see (and curb your instinct to investigate) those yummy-smelling leather contraptions that your human wears over his two back paws? Is this impossible to imagine? Try it.
This is the visual part of the empathy exercise that the Monks of New Skete advise those with a new puppy to practice. They have labeled this process: “Inseeing.” This term implies far more than just the visual aspect of interacting with your puppy. Here is a definition I found taken from an article by Morgan Van Wyck who has raised and trained his golden retriever Deva the New Skete way. Check out his article adapted from the Shambala Sun Magazine (Please note that all bold type is my idea of what’s important here).
The monks and dogs of New Skete
by Morgan Van Wyck
“The monastic experience calls one to go beyond words and to live, as Brother Christopher puts it, “a life without division.” It is an important point, since only in this way can one appreciate the extent to which, in the process of raising and training dogs, the monks have also enriched their own spiritual practice. Frequently, for example, the monks speak about the discipline of “inseeing,” a term they borrowed from their readings of the German poet Rilke.
Father Laurence, the abbot of New Skete, regards inseeing as the true meeting place of the contemplative mind with the natural world: “Inseeing is being willing to look at another living thing in a way that allows for seeing it in and of itself. It is respecting this ‘other’ for what it is, without trying to change it or own it. In this struggle to deepen one’s understanding one is enriched, given life, no matter how limited one’s success in this endeavor.”
This sounds good doesn’t it? Oh, if E. could have done that with me. If she could have found it in her heart to respect me, to look into me or just once in a while take the time to ask herself why I was behaving badly in certain situations. Had this been the case, there would have been no reason for her to write our book: Learning to Live with Fritz. Why? Because I am sure my dizzy opera diva and I would have gotten along better. I would have felt understood. I would have appreciated the peacefulness, the moments of silent human-canine communication. I would not have felt the need to teach such dramatic lessons. This empathy between us did not exist because Ms. Em was too involved with her divorce and her move back to Europe to save her flagging career. Along with those two life-changing events… meeting and recognizing the greatest love of her life was paramount in her mind and heart. She was an emotional basket case. Need I say more? She thought of me, merely as a traveling companion and mascot. I had to get her attention, didn’t I?
I cheerfully acknowledge torturing and embarrassing her so often because this was the only way I could teach her the lessons she so desperately needed to learn. All my tutorials were intentionally crafted to teach her about Being Here Now and living in the present moment. Be honest. This moment is the only moment that you-and all humans living on Planet Earth have. Can you change anything you did or said five minutes ago? (… and don’t you wish you could?) I rest my case.
All I was saying to E. was… “Slow down. Smell the flowers. Stay present. Concentrate on what you are doing, saying, hearing and seeing … right now.” Voila! What could be easier to comprehend? However, as any Zen Master will imply (but will never outright tell you)… the simplest lessons are the hardest to ‘get.’ I wanted her to THINK about who she was toting around with her. What impact was I (the tiny, bellicose and despotic Maltese nutcase) making on her psyche? I tried to make her see that the way she was scurrying around trying to make all the pieces of her life fit together… was pure nonsense. She never thought about what I might have been trying to tell her! E. didn’t think about this until I was long gone and she felt the vacuum of my absence. Don’t let this happen to you and your dog … please.
Inseeing means to take your dog seriously. Your dog is not a plaything, although he loves to play. Your pup is not your possession, although you paid a lot of money for her, or rescued him from a shelter. An Inseeing statement of purpose might go like this:
“We are in this together. Let us join forces for friendship and companionship and live our lives from this moment on as equal partners in sharing and learning about each other.”
If E. had known about Inseeing she might have discovered something about herself and I would not have taken such drastic measures to get her attention… but then, as I said before… our book would not have been written and this blog would not exist. Now I ask you… hasn’t everything turned out perfectly? You bet. Ms. Em learned all about unconditional love and I received a much deserved bonus of ruling over this Dog Blog as Whispering Fritz! Spiritual journeys are rarely trouble-free and as straightforward as we would like them to be.
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 …
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.
“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?
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!
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
Thanks to my faithful assistant for keeping up with this blogging activity and to master dog whisperer Cesar Millan for his invaluable tips on puppy training. Check out E.’s views in our book Learning to Live with Fritz. Chapter Five is entitled: Name the Puppy. Train the Puppy! She, of course, blames herself for being a dunce about her utter failure to train me but hey, I was a very special case and that is all I am going to say about that.
Too busy to blog? Yes, indeed. I had to do a lot of stage whispering (getting much louder than I had originally planned) to get Project Freddy going. Whew! What a lot of work. I sincerely overestimated my ability to convince my earth-bound
apprentice that: “GET A PUPPY!” was a command and not a suggestion. This gave me a dose of my own medicine. The Be here Now treatment, the ‘stay present and keep going’ philosophy I teach 24/7 turned out to be a lesson I needed to teach myself. I swear to you … being in the NOW –living constantly and only in the present moment– requires discipline. I had the job completed in my head, a done deal so to speak. Wow! Was that jumping to conclusions! I was a victim of my own arrogance thinking I had more influence over E. then I actually had. Honestly, I thought I had Project Freddy in the bag but it was still necessary for me to spend every moment (of the past fourteen days) insisting.
I was completely worn out by the time I had not-so-subtly guided E. to the Nabinger family’s Bolonka Zwetna website: www.bolonkas-vom-sonneneck.de and still she doubted! Even when I pointed out that time was running out that E. was not getting any younger, that a puppy was just the thing to keep her constantly confronting The NOW. She hesitated … procrastinated. Why? Simple: she was frightened. I have to admit all of this is my fault. Who would really want to sign up for another reign of terror? At long last I persuaded E. that the Nabingers were the dedicated Bolonka breeders who would be responsible for bringing puppy FREDDY, a.k.a. Raiko vom Sonneneck into their home in the Pfalz region of Germany and finally into E.’s busy life.
Simone and Bernd Nabinger are very particular about puppy destination families. They need to meet and intuit the character of those interested parties to whom their li’l darlings will someday go. A lengthy personal ‘in-house’ interview (with breeders, mother dog and potential puppies present) is required before the Nabingers will even consider allowing one of their babies out of their sight. Thus the Sonneneck (translates as Sunny Corner) website targets the local German-speaking community. Certainly they are not expecting folks to fly in from English-speaking countries for a puppy meeting! So, for non-German readers and to make it easier to understand why I chose this breed for my contrite ex-diva, I shall explain in the shortest sweetest version… how the extraordinary Bolonka Zwetna came into existence.
Short but Sweet History of the Bolonka Zwetna
-by Whispering Fritz
The origin of the breed Bolonka is not known. Cross breeding in Russia produced a clever, warm-hearted and spirited little lap dog. Probably the Italian Bolognese and the French Bichon à poil frisé are the source breeds for the Bolonka but our puppy Freddy’s original ancestry is truly up for grabs. These adorable dogs graced the laps of some very famous women. Surely divas all … Among them we have Madame de Pompadour of France, Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia and Maria Theresa of Austria (the only female ruler of the Hapsburg dominions.)Thus, the perfect diva dog! During the 20th century, Russian breeders crossed the Franzuskaya Bolonka (pure white) with small multicolored dogs. Since 1966 the delightful, fun-loving Bolonka Zwetnas have been bred in Germany.
I chose Freddy’s breed in order to keep my whispered promise to E. that it would definitely not be Fritz or a Fritz imitator returning to her. I promised her that she would enjoy her new pup and experience all the JOY and lightheartedness she deserves after completing fifteen years of my difficult course in unconditional love. Once Freddy is on the scene … E. might not be so sure about him. She will be incorrectly connecting dots that lead back to me if Freddy exhibits any weird Fritz habits or despotic behavior. I will have to be on my tippy toes to keep Freddy in line.
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!
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!
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.
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.
Ok, now I am tired of sounding preachy. Either you get this living in the moment, my sort of carpe diem mode or you do not. E. still hasn’t gotten it completely because she has ignored my specific whisperings re: the perfect solution now for seven long years while finishing our book Learning to Live with Fritz (oh yes, that Fritz. That ‘angel’ was me in my earthly disgruntled disguise). All I have been saying is: “Get a puppy!” I have been guiding her to likely prospects she continually ignores or rationalizes away with arguments like ‘too much trouble’ or ‘Traveling with a puppy again! No way!’ Or finally … the endless loop lie she tells herself: ‘I am free of Fritz now … hooray! Never again!’ What a crock. She needs a puppy! I am finally making headway with my former opera diva who now fancies herself an author. Little does she know that her ego is responsible for the idea that she alone has written the aforementioned channeled manuscript with its impressive ISBN number. I am the Author (notice the capital A) and she has taken dictation.
Now back to that puppy idea. I will never come back to her (as in- like it or not– reincarnation) and I am sure she is happy about that. Any pup I have suggested (with varying degrees of passionate whispering) in the past seven years has been a new dog soul entering the Earth Plane completely innocent of opinions and ideas about her. I promised her no more guru dogs! I promised her no more aggressive teaching techniques. I took pity on her because, well, I mean she has earned a rest because she actually learned most of the lessons I tried my best to teach her in my sixteen years of tyranny. And still she is reluctant! She refuses to take my suggestions. My prescription for living in the NOW is … puppy! A young pup is the best medicine for observing how life really is. How life should and could be lived in the moment. A pup is excited about just everything. Every sight, sound, smell and feeling … to a newborn puppy is fascinating, scary, fun and/or as often as not … absolutely thrilling. Puppy hears, sees and experiences his or her life as one boundless adventure of discovery. Now, I ask you … who could be a better teacher of living in the NOW than a puppy?
Thinking back on the puppies I fervently endorsed I get a bit teary. Oh, when I think about how many moments E. has missed because of her obstinate objections to allowing a pup into her life again. There were so many good ones! Here is just one glaring example of E. refusing to get the signs and signals. If I could remind her of Alfie, a dog I manipulated her into noticing while walking in snowy Central Park. It was January of 2012. Alfred, aka Alfie … was about 11 inches tall, a Jack Russell terrier and he was galloping through the snow, jumping and snapping at snowflakes, rolling in the white stuff and generally having the time of his life. E. was drawn to him (ha-ha!) and she asked the woman dangling a short red leash about the delightful little dog she had there … the terrier was having such a gleeful time playing in the snow! The woman shook her head and replied in Swiss-accented German (first clue) that she didn’t speak English. E. immediately switched to her second language and here’s the clincher … this should have closed the deal: The woman was Swiss (E. lives in Switzerland!) and told her that she was only babysitting little Alfie who was probably about ten months old. She had promised her animal activist niece that she would find a willing owner for the little guy before she left for her home in Zürich. Her departure was only a few days away and she still had found no one to adopt the pup her niece had saved from a puppy mill in South America somewhere. Her niece had left New York immediately for a project dedicated to freeing tortured animals in Rumania only after extracting a solemn promise that Alfie would find a good home. E. didn’t take the bait. Go figure. Now I ask you, how much clearer could I have been? And still my unwilling E. refused to connect the dots.
This infuriated me. I had a sort of a Rumpelstiltkin tantrum and nearly fell through my fluffy white cloud just thinking about how stupid E. was to leave that cute little bugger to his uncertain destiny. I looked a bit into the future and found out that the Swiss woman felt so sorry for the poor abandoned Alfie that she took him with her to Zurich to live happily ever after or at least to this very day. It was a match made in, well, Heaven. Whew. I was worried about Alfie. Alfie was my last unsuccessful attempt at puppy propositioning my reluctant student. Whispering Fritz’s next blog will be about my (after all this time) puppy success story. I took a short sabbatical from Blog writing in order to prepare my surprise. Blog 4. Blog 2 was written by my devoted and capable assistant detailing our aristocratic history, our reputation as healers while extolling the many virtues of my breed of choice, the Maltese terrier. Thank you my dear, Now all is ready for Finally Freddy!
Interested in a sneak preview of the little darling? I couldn’t resist!