Fall 2007. San Antonio, TX
“We’ve thought about it. Your dogs will make it to Boston but you won’t.”
I never liked the word ‘training’ especially as it pertains to dogs and maybe that’s why I eschewed it prior to our walk. Did you know that the Latin root of the word train is ‘Tractus’, which means pulled?
As I related some time ago in a post, I tried that with Murphy and he was like, ‘Aw Hell No!’. Murphy couldn’t be pushed OR pulled OR prodded.
Trainers say Pyrenees are one of the most difficult dog breeds to ‘train’. Maybe that’s because most trainers just haven’t taken the time to learn how to communicate with them. After all, they’re one of the oldest breeds still extant dating back to 3,000 BC; they’re willful, independent, and really haven’t needed people ever. And Pyrenees are part Castilian, part French, part Basque, and part Spaniard.
That’s a whole lotta attitude rolled up into one doggie.
I had to learn how to communicate with Hudson and Murphy and establish a mutual system of language so that we could act and react in a moment’s notice since life on the road is measured in micro seconds. And the two of them had to develop their own system. This was no easy thing.
I started with the basic mushing commands and built up from there with phrases like ‘Off the Street’, ‘In the Tent’, ‘Let’s get some Shade’, ‘Avante, Allez’, ‘G’yon’ (that’s a southern thing), ‘Electric’ (so they wouldn’t pee on a live wire which I did a couple of times) and many, many others that became our daily lexicon.
There was someone I interviewed, I think part of the Raising Indiana series I did, that said that a dog’s vocabulary was limited to only a couple of dozen of words.
Bollocks. He never went on a long treacherous hike with his.
Even if that was true, it’s our responsibility to listen and understand what they’re saying to us NOT pull them into understanding us. We don’t sense what dogs do, at a level they do, and comparing them to us is ridiculous.
The two old naughty, nosey, outspoken women that we met from time to time on the nature trail at Trinity University midst our training in the fall of 2007, maybe they were right. Hudson and Murphy did make it to Boston but I never did.
YBD’s Notes 1: I mean no disrespect to trainers as I have met many, many great ones on our travels but I think communicators should be the appropriate title to those who listen.
YBD’s Notes 2: My deepest and sincerest apologies for not publishing part of the book last week. I lost my inspiration but that’s no excuse and it’ll never happen again. The story must go on.
YBD’s Notes 3: Next week Chapter 13: Sponsors. Shit.
2 Dogs 2,000 Miles