When my partner J left for San Francisco last week, she laid a pack of cards in my hand. I figured she was under the misapprehension that I'd have nothing to do without her around to amuse me. But when I looked at the box, it was labeled, "52 Relaxing Rituals." She knows me well. Keeping busy isn't my problem; keeping my stress level down is.
Of course, of those 52 rituals, only the ones I can do with dogs are useful to me. But I'm not rigid; I can adapt just about any activity to include a dog or two...or a dozen.
The cards had titles like: Relaxation in a Box. I think the idea for that one was to make a box of pleasant items that would evoke memories of a relaxing time. But the title reminded me of the fun game "100 Things to Do with a Box", so I found a cardboard box, a clicker and some treats, and my dogs took turns interacting with the box in as many different ways as they could think of. Jack was the best at this. Tom, as is often the case, got so excited about being clicked that she forgot about the box and started performing every trick she'd ever been taught.
The next card said, "Be Musical," which was clearly a call for a group howl. Sure feels good to clear out those lungs. Glad I don't have any close neighbors.
"Musical Journey" had me hauling out my CD "Through A Dog's Ear." In clinical trials, this music has been found to calm 70% of dogs in kennel/shelter situations and 85% in households. Just sounds like bland elevator music to me, but then I guess that's the point.
"Exert Energy" prompted a bike ride for Maggie, the frenetic border collie. This definitely worked, although it only brought her energy level down to above normal. I, on the other hand, felt pretty relaxed. Even more so as I accompanied the rest of the pack on their walk.
"A Drink A Day." Only one?! And what about the dogs? Ah, yes, a bowl of warm milk would no doubt be appreciated by all. And that would be even better if I followed the direction to "Bake Bread." My dogs aren't fussy: white, wholegrain, zucchini...anything will do.
Relaxing Spot" could be taken to mean a dog bed in front of the woodstove or the place on your dog's body that makes her turn to jelly. Tom is definitely a tummy girl. Jack prefers cheek stroking and muzzle-kissing.
Once we were all lulled into a semi-comatose state, it was time for "The Great Escape." No, by this time no one was trying to breach the fence line. I booted up the video player. 101 Dalmatians or Dog Park?
Shane Windatt, CTC, CPDT
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