Terri Schlichenmeyer: The Bookworm Sez 1-2-12 | TheFencePost.com

Terri Schlichenmeyer: The Bookworm Sez 1-2-12

Terri Schlichenmeyer
LaCrosse, Wis.

He just doesn’t understand.

You’ve spent many hours trying to get him to see your point of view, trying to explain what your needs are, trying to be heard. You’ve pleaded, yelled, begged shamelessly, and in return, you get a blank look.

Maybe he just doesn’t care. Maybe he needs professional help.

Maybe your dog needs you to try another tactic.

There isn’t much else your pup requires and he loves you, so why not meet him halfway? Read “In a Dog’s Heart” by Jennifer Arnold and learn how.

Psychology professor Abraham Maslow proposed, in 1943, that humans had a “pyramid” of needs that started with the physical and ended with self-actualization.

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Jennifer Arnold believes that, despite criticism aimed at Maslow, his theories hold true with dogs. In order to achieve “a good life” a dog must have his physical needs met (food, water, shelter), followed by a sense of safety, a feeling of attachment, and a sense of contentment.

In return, they give us much of the same.

We, for instance, make sure that our dogs are healthy. Conversely, they comfort us and worry when we’re sick or hurting. Some dogs take their caregiving up a notch by being therapy dogs for the sick or assistance animals for the disabled.

Dogs, with their excellent sniffers and their keen hearing, give us a sense of safety. We feel more secure in knowing that our pooches are guarding the house while we’re abed or gone for the day. A bomb-sniffing dog makes us relax a little more. And if somebody goes missing, a dog is often one of the first on the rescue scene.

But none of this comes automatically, of course. Dogs love us and want to follow our requests, but they don’t “speak human.” They understand speech inflection and body language, but they don’t comprehend the reasons behind screaming and anger. They’re easily taught, but they need to be taught from their perspective.

And, in the end, they need us to “hold it together” because, to the end, our dogs just want us to be happy.

“In a Dog’s Heart” is a mixed breed.

On one paw, spending time with author Jennifer Arnold’s stories is like sitting on the bench at the dog park, talking with a fellow puppy parent. Arnold is the founder and director of Canine Assistants and the stories she shares perfectly confirm the bond we have with the canine crew. Dog lovers will eat these tales up like kibble.

On the other paw, about half of “In a Dog’s Heart” consists of basic information and teaching tips, most of which experienced dog lovers already know – and since this book doesn’t appear to be a training manual for newbies, that info just seemed to me to be odd and misplaced.

Still, yes, I read it because it was there and it was entwined with the stories – and I loved the stories. If you’re a dog lover, I think you will, too, because “In a Dog’s Heart” is a book you’ll understand.