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Inseeing: Puppy Training a la The Monks of New Skete

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! freddynewAfter 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 FritzWhy? Because I am sure my dizzy opera diva and I would have gotten along better. I would have feltnewfritzbook 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 absenceDon’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.

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

Finally, FREDDY!

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

Finally Freddy!

Finally Freddy!

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 NOWliving constantly and only in the present momentrequires 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.

freddy2

My Bolonka

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.

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

“Get a puppy!”

Mexican Standoff

Get a puppy, E.!

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.

looknice

Look, I could be nice!

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!

Freddy

See? He’s already taking after my teaching ways. Tune back next week for Freddy’s first feature!