Who is walking whom?
Suzanne Clothier wrote, the question is the “stuff of cartoons”.
I read Suzanne’s book around 2002, the time of publishing. It contains many flags and subtle highlighting. I pulled it off the book shelf this morning. I opened to page 62, it was flagged. It begins with phrase “pulling on lead”.
Because pulling on lead does, for me, means so much about my relationship with my dogs, I’m not going to try paraphrasing that first paragraph on page 62, nor what follows!
Pulling on Lead. What this suggests about dog human relationships
“Pulling on lead is, for me, a fundamental issue that both reflects on and affects the dog/human relationship on many levels. Looked at within the context of the overall relationship, pulling on lead reveals disturbances in the quality of attention given and received at both ends of the lead and says something about the degree of togetherness at work between dog and handler. I do not know anyone who enjoys being pulled around by a dog. While dogs do pull, I doubt that they find the experience enjoyable-it’s hard to believe that being gagged and choked is enjoyable. But lacking our perspective and our ability to change the situation, they may believe it is an inescapable part of being on leash, especially since we most obligingly play our part.”
“Any of us would take a dim view of someone who was dragging their dog or child down the street-it is an act that speaks to the person’s insensitivity to or lack of respect for the dog or child they are towing. But we don’t think twice about the dog whose person allows him to pull them down the street. We don’t think about the lack of respect implicit in the act of pulling, or the lack of leadership that allows it. Simply put, we may move through life spending far too much time simply tied to our dogs by the length of our leash, not bound to them through an investment of our attention.”
“When a high degree of quality exists, it is unmistakable. There is attentiveness that flows between the two partners, a mutuality and respect that is evident in everything they do. Simple gestures reveal a world and say more than we may realize about a relationship.”
On Mutual Attention
“Dog to handler, handler to dog-should serve as the first and most powerful connection in all situations. This takes time to create through training and a diligent practicing of attentiveness; a leash can serve as a safety net along the way to handle the bobbles that will inevitably occur, maybe even as a way to begin a conversation that requires no words. Perhaps our language needs to shift so that we no longer “walk the dog” but rather choose very deliberately, with loving attentiveness, to “walk with the dog”.
Bones Would Rain from the Sky, Suzanne Clothier, Copyright 2002, Warner Books