Thirty Three Maremmas – Bliss
Updated: Sep 27, 2019
This blog is my heart so if that sort of thing doesn’t interest you please feel free to skip this one….
Recently I lost the friendship of someone I loved, and I am grieving that loss. She didn’t die, and there are no “bad guys.” We just discovered that we are very different people and that the differences are such that they preclude us from continuing our friendship.
I believe that as we get older life becomes more challenging; loved ones pass, our health deteriorates, and the list goes on. When my life feels overwhelming I remind myself to count my blessings, and they are many. My husband and I have been together nearly thirty years and I still adore him. I live on 360 acres of paradise, surrounded by animals I love; at the top of that list are thirty three Maremmas.
The white dogs are teaching me how to be a better human. Their lives are all about relationships and communication skills. My sixteen adult dogs work in pairs, so each has a partner’s needs and wishes to consider, much like a person in a marriage does. They live with groups of livestock, and the livestock have their own species specific needs and language. For all their lives the dogs nurture and protect their livestock; how wonderful it would be if people followed their example and treated each other with kindness.
A dog’s primary means of communication is body language. I study my dogs and I see them use their position in relation to each other to communicate, or a look, a lowering of their body, or a bounding happy dance, as means of speaking with each other. I watch their respect for each other and their willingness to respond to subtle requests from each other. I strive to learn to read the subtleties of human communication so that I will better understand how to offer support, and when to step back. We all are a work in progress so that isn’t new but my perspective on today is painful.
I call myself a trainer here, a trainer of puppies, but in reality I am their student, for they are wise far beyond what I will ever be. For many people “training” means controlling behavior. For me it doesn’t. I carefully control the environment for my puppies to set them up for success and they are successful! I celebrate their successes with them many times a day, every day, for as long as they live with me. What a privilege that is.
Think about it this way: Think of something your dog does that you wish he didn’t, and then think about the percentage of time that he doesn’t do that, in a twenty four hour period. That twenty three and three quarters hours the dog isn’t in trouble with you gives you opportunities to celebrate success. It is such a privilege to be part of this journey with my pups.
Last night as it got dark and I was finished with my chores, I sat in my Kubota drinking Chardonnay out of a plastic cup and I watched my pups. My poor husband was confused enough by my behavior that he came to see if I was OK! Picture eleven, thirteen week old puppies and four sheep. The sheep were eating alfalfa while the puppies played around them, occasionally stopping to kiss a sheep nose or two. This litter does it perfectly every time.
I am beyond grateful for the friends in my life. I choose to celebrate successes. I choose happiness. Opportunities to live this way are all around me.