PRAISE AS A CONSTANT ACCOMPANIMENT By John Watts

 

Dog walking never ceases to amaze me with its never-ending life lessons.

Take my daily walks with my highly percolated Jack Russell, Jackson.  He has become so used to hearing “good boy” and other positive vocal inflections from me, that he rarely ever looks back or bats an ear.

And I think this is a good thing.

Because that means it is part of the routine.  He associates a nice voice with me.

And I like that part of myself that walks with my dog routinely—even though each walk holds the promise of being anything BUT routine.

For dog walking remains for me the purest way of plugging back into an almost trance like state of affirmation and appreciation.

Let the rest of the world worry about dog training and selling books about 5 easy steps to some kind of mastery.

I like that my dog is never startled when I talk sweetly to him.

And while I am on subject.  I have another confession.  I also unequivocally admit to dabbling freely in the habit of employing a high rising “baby talk” inflection with my Jackson when I communicate.

Why not?  I understand from what I have read that the highly appealing habit of baby talk is universally understood in any language by our pets.  Animals find deeper connection with it–even as stern alpha male types grimace.  “Why can’t you talk in age appropriate, adult terms?” they bemoan.

And it seems to sooth me too and give me great release.

Heck some of the words are just some made up gobbledygook anyway and have no real meaning or translation–apart from the vibe of LOVE and acceptance.

Again, let coaches and strict disciplinarians worry about losing one’s credibility by over saturating praise too disproportionately.

Jackson moves along ahead of me on the leash with nary a look back when my praise voice is on auto pilot.

We are free from judgement and performance.  And when sternness or anger does flash, it is only out of urgency and concern for his safety or to prevent him from putting something unspeakably gross in his mouth—or perhaps if I trip and stub my toe.

But for the most part, I will keep on heaping on the praise and the baby talk.

And Jackson will intuitively know that tone and never need to look back.

Because it will be a daily occurrence and never just a technique or some grudgingly administered prize.

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About John Watts

I like to write transcendental community based essays and stories along with photo journalism pieces.
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