Dog trains man

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Observations From An Outsider

"Kenzo is an exemplary dog", my friend said.

"Really?", I mumbled in surprise, stunned to hear such a statement coming from him. He knew Kenzo since puppy-hood and never seemed to approve of the grown-up dog, Kenzo had become.

Actually, he always has been Kenzo's biggest critic. When Kenzo was young, my friend always had something to complain about. Kenzo didn't listen. Kenzo pulled the leash. Kenzo barked. Kenzo was never happy to see him. Kenzo .... and the list goes on - I agree on the never happy to see him point though, and fully support Kenzo in that excellent choice.

Raising Kenzo was never a picnic. It didn't had a lot to do with Kenzo's capabilities though, but more with mine. I made a lot of mistakes. Let me rephrase that, I made a ton of mistakes. But each lesson I learned could be put into practice the next day thanks to Kenzo's infinite patience and ability to start all over on a new day, and have it right a second, third, or fourth time.

My friend never acknowledged that. Stuck in the past, it didn't matter how Kenzo did now, those first glitches were never forgiven. Over time I became numb for the critique. A little voice in my head said to drop him as a friend, as he was just not a dog person I could relate with. What hold me back was there were so many other area's where we did connect. I would have few friends left today too, if I selected them on the basis of how much they agree with me. And then there was just that tiny little detail, he adored Viva, and Viva adored him. Viva, he always said, was the kindest dog he ever met. I'll give you a lot of slack, when you come with a statement like that.

He never nagged me about it, or made Kenzo's "performance" a returning topic of discussion, just that occasional statement, as if a fact was revealed, that needed mentioning. He wouldn't be my friend today I am sure, if either of us would have chosen to embark into a discussion, instead of changing the subject like we did.

Nonetheless, when he spoke those flattering words about Kenzo, it made me very proud, and it made me realize all his critique of Kenzo had bothered me more than I cared to admit.

"Thanks, that's great to hear. What made you change your mind?", I asked, realizing we both might come to regret my decision not to ignore his comment like I always did before.

But now the question was out there. I was curious what made him take this rather huge jump in his assessment of Kenzo. From nothing to perfect, is quite a leap. Even if you would ask me, I would never say he is perfect, although as you probably also feel about your dog, dear reader, they are pretty darn perfect in our eyes, especially because of all their imperfections.

"Well, if I compare him with Tilde...".

You might think that was the end of our friendship, but that was not what happened next. I just bursted into laughter. I could imagine how in his eyes, Tilde must have been even more disturbing, than Kenzo ever was. And my friend had learned something too, as he continued, "I guess she is still a pup, like Kenzo also once was."

He was basically right about the difference between the adolescent, Tilde, and the senior Kenzo. But there was more to it, he didn't know, but I did. Tilde is also more creative, more pig-headed, more abundant and more independent, than Kenzo ever was when he was her age. I know, I will need all the skills I learned with Kenzo for Tilde, and then some more, a lot more.

In hindsight, I was lucky with Kenzo as my first Hovawart. Imagine Tilde would have been my first. I would probably have fallen flat on my face, pulling out my hair in frustration along the way, always one step behind, and we might have set each other up for failure. Now, because of Kenzo - and later also because of Viva - as he gently introduced me into the world of the Hovawart, I know I am ready. My friend doesn't know it yet, but it will work out between him and Tilde too. Not in the least because she is already working her charm on him, like Viva also did.

I am going to keep my friend around, and are looking forward to once hear him say .... you guess it !



  1. Thank you for the smile this morning. I can certainly identify with you - having that wonderfully calm exemplary dog to start with, and then being faced with a young hooligan!!! :-) You know you have a "problem" when you are discouraged from going on holiday with family - but we both know we will get there with them. It just takes time, love and patience.

    1. Thanks Jan, and it will work out I am sure. For one I will have to re-visit my own definition of "being consistent" and acknowledge it needs a lot of improvement. It was good enough for Kenzo, but Tilde is challenging me on it, and she is right ... but that's going to be another post !

    2. Your best weapons are love, patience with her and yourself, and most definitely your sense of humour. And also remembering that she isn't another Kenzo - what ever worked for Kenzo is not necessarily going to work for Tilde. River certainly threw my handbook out of the window - as has every dog I have had. Just when you think you have learned a lot, you realise you need to learn a whole lot more!


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