Sunday, September 12, 2010

Developing Relationships

This weekend I got to bond with some really great dogs. As a pet sitter, one of the most enjoyable processes of my work is the relationship I develop with the pets I care for.

Last year I attended the annual conference of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, and spoke with Bill Berloni of Theatrical Dogs (he trains dogs for live performances in stage shows, and he is not only talented, witty, and fun, but the dogs he uses in shows are all rescue dogs! How cool is that?) Bill said that when it comes to working with dogs, he aims to "honor the being". I repeat that to myself all the time - "Honor the being." It really clicked with me. Every pet, every creature, has it's own personality, likes and dislikes, and way of communicating. Part of what I do is to try to open my mind and heart to the pet in my care, and ask "What do you need right now? How can I make sure you are comfortable and happy?" I observe the pets I care for constantly to learn their language. Of course pets need food, water, shelter, etc. But for dogs and cats, there are games they like to play, ways they like to be held (or not held at all!), toys they prefer over others, a special blanket they have to sleep with. I love the process of learning about pets likes and dislikes.

So this weekend I sat for a bunch of beautiful dachshunds (and other pets too!) and they all are so unique. A few of the dogs I have known since they were puppies, and even though it's been a year since I saw them last, they remembered me and immediately one was in my arms (she always loved to be held), another was wrestling my sneaker (she's a playful one), and another wanted his tummy rub - he knows I give great tummy rubs! I loved that I know these dogs well enough to know what they like, and to be able to provide that to them. The response from the dogs is always favorable, it's like they are expressing to me that they appreciate that I know them so well!

Bonding with pets is never a wasted effort, and it can be done with the right gesture, or word, or tummy rub, or toy.

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