I took Dojo running yesterday and he was pooped. He spent all day moping around and moaning like a sinner on rivaval day.
Check out the video.
Seca is in Tucson, AZ
YouIt’s 5:30 am when the alarm rings. You slide into running shorts and shoes, drink a cup of coffee and plan your route. Living a ten-minute drive from a galaxy of wilderness and hiking trails means you’re running up to meet the sun on mountain passes every morning. I mean, where else would you be – in bed?Pink, orange and fuschia screen the western sky after work, and that’s the direction you head. Foot, after foot, clipping along to the sound of your footfall, your mind begins – slowly, begrudgingly – to let go.But. Why are you doing this alone?
The Story of Seca“It means flaca, skinny,” she tells me, “because she was the runt.” And, it’s true. Just then her brother strolls by; he is twice her size – and has an underbite that must make chewing arduous. Clearly, Seca was the Goldie Locks of the litter.Three days later, Seca is galloping up Soldier Trail, skidding to a stop at the edge of a canyon wall. She sniffs at a tuft of lupine pushing up through the sand.Soon Seca will be biting at snow patches alongside the trail to Mount Wrightson and pouncing on tadpoles in shallow creek water on Mount Lemmon. She’ll race ahead of me for the first two days of backpacking in Sycamore Canyon and walk at my heels on the third. She’ll swing across a vertical rockface in a harness and every night she’ll fall asleep at my feet.Alas, my journey with Seca is coming to a close and I must find her a new human to love her and take care of her. You and SecaYou adopt Seca. She travels the whole way with her stuffed chicken and tennis ball beside her. Wouldn’t you? You show her around the house, where her bed will go, and her toy basket and food bowls. She follows you to the back door and pushes through the doggie door; you trail her into the back yard where she conducts a full smell assessment. Later you cruise around the neighborhood, stopping to let her sniff
and pee, sniff and pee.Come sunset, you know exactly where you’re going to be. Only this time, not alone.
Adopt Seca Now.
Seca is in Tucson, AZ
There are many ways in which dogs can get into a good, ol’ fashioned scrap. There are probably just as many ways to prevent it from happening.
Rather than preach about this method or that method, I’d rather talk about a specific, real life, example that I just happen to have on tape :-)
Dojo (my German Shepard) and my friend Bill’s pit Molly were doing some in-water dual retrieving. Both dogs (and owners) were totally unprepared and untrained for such an endeavor.
Some factors that didn’t help
- Both Dojo and Molly are high-energy dogs with strong resource-guarding instincts.
- They both have strong prey drives as well.
I point out the prey drive because in this scenario the stick is but a prey in their minds.
Some factors that helped.
- They were both kinda tired from a long hike.
- They were both in water.
- Molly is a female.
This last part warrants a close examination.
Aggressive male dogs (and I’m generalizing) are less likely to be aggressive around female dogs. Isn’t this true of all species?
Not that Dojo is an aggressive dog but he can be pig headed when he wants to be.
Moving on.The thing that saved the day was a well timed “OUT!!!” command.This prompted Dojo to let go of the stick and thus prevented possible escalation. Lesson?A well timed, well trained command is sometimes all it takes to prevent a dog fight. Watch.
Last week, I published a post If You Can Train a Bear You Can Train a Dog. You definitely want to read it before proceeding.
For those that read it, here are the 3 questions I presented in that post.
- How did the European Gypsies train bears to dance on queue?
- How to walk a bear on a leash? And…
- How to make a bear heel?
Today we are going to answer one of those three questions for posterity.
I’ve researched this topic far and wide and found very little authoritative information. What’s worse is I wasn’t able to find one place that answered all these questions.
Why is it important to answer these questions?
From what I understand, much of Europe nowadays forbids Gypsies from using bears to advertise their business of fixing umbrellas. If you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about, well, I told you to read the previous post.
Given the fact that it is now forbidden, I would imagine that the skills of training this wild beast will be lost within a generation or two.
No. I’m not suggesting we open up a bear training business.
What I am suggesting is that knowledge of any kind should NEVER be lost. I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say that losing knowledge due to atrophy of nonuse is no different than losing knowledge due to book burning or destruction of libraries.
So with that in mind, how do you train a bear to dance?
In the olden days, Gypsies of Europe would take a metal plate and put some hot coals underneath it. The bear would then be blocked off from escaping the metal plate.
Since the plate was hot, the bear would instinctively throw his hands in the air (get on his hind legs) and proceed to tap dance on his hind legs in alternating fashion.
While this is going on, the Gypsies would play the drum.
This is classic Pavlovian conditioning.
For those unfamiliar, in 1890s, Dr. Ivan Pavlov performed experiments on the connection between the visual processing center of dogs and their salivary gland.
Note: Dr. Pavlov wasn’t interested in training dogs. In fact, much of “scientific” research cited in dog literature has nothing to do with actual training of dogs. Sorry “science” of dog training.
When showed a cooked, juicy piece of stake dogs would automatically begin to salivate. Pavlov then added the infamous bell to the equation.
Whenever he would show the stake to dogs he would ring a bell, thereby associating the sound a bell makes with the visual stimuli. At this stage, the smell played an important role as well.
After many repetitions, Pavlov decided to remove the cooked, juicy piece of stake from the equation and simply rung the bell. And thus the Dogs began to salivate.
This same type of classic associative conditioning was employed by the Gypsies of Europe to get their bears to dance except they used aversive methods (hot plate) rather than appetitive stimulation (juicy stake).
How to walk a bear on a leash?Sorry folks. We’re out of time. I didn’t think this post would be this long. I hope you enjoyed it.
Subscribe to make sure you don’t miss the next installment in my How To Train a Bear series when we talk about how to walk a bear on a leash.
This past summer, Dojo and I did a lot of hiking.
The Appalachian Trail. The Sun Fish Pond. The air. The nature. It was all good.
I taped a series of Off Leash Encounters with other dogs as well as people.
In this video, you will see Dojo pulling ahead (which is typical for a young male of the species), however, if you pay close attention you will notice him “checking-in” by looking back to make sure I’m not too far.
We encounter a group of people and a young pit. The pit is on a leash and very excited to meet Dojo.
The dude on the other side of the leash got lucky this time. Both dogs behaved exceptionally well despite the dudester tugging on the leash and creating a lot of tension in the young pit.
If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.
Have you ever had your umbrella repaired by a gypsy?
In that case, you probably never saw a gypsy walking a bear on a leash.
No, I’m not joking.
I’m talking about a real live person walking a bear on a leash and repairing umbrellas in the process.
If all this sounds too bizarre, let me back track for a second and set the scene.
I grew up in Bosnia during the 80s. And back then, every once in a while, a gypsy would come through town yelling at the top of his lungs “UMBREALLAS REPAIRED. GET YOUR UMBRELLAS REPAIRED HERE!!!”
We can all learn a thing or two about showmanship from bear-touting, umbrella-repairing gypsies, don’t you think?
What I’m about to share with you guys, I never thought it was all that strange growing up, but looking back…
Nowadays we live in a disposable society. You wouldn’t even dream of fixing an umbrella, you simply buy a new one. But it wasn’t long ago when people appreciated durability of the goods purchased. Such was the case with umbrellas only few decades ago in the old country.
So every few months, a gypsy would come by –the way the ice cream man comes by except on foot- and offer his services for a modest fee.
Of course, the umbrella-fixing game is a rough business so gypsies worked hard to differentiate themselves from one another. One way was to come around town yelling out their umbrella-fixing prowess, pulling a bear on a leash and playing a ukulele-like instrument called Gusle.
Gusle is a stringed instrument played with a bow, a kind of a cross between ukulele and a violin.
While this was considered normal, it was an event non the less, so the kids would follow the gypsy around town only contributing to his showman like status.
When he found a client-rich area (an apartment complex for example), the gypsy would stop, put down his Gusle and pull out a snare drum. He would then proceed to play the drum at which point the bear would get-up on his hind legs and start to dance.
So let me ask you kind folks.
How is it possible that this gypsy was able to train a bear to walk on a leash without pulling AND dance on cue when the drum is played?
Think about how YOU could possibly get a bear to walk nicely on a leash and dance on cue.
Don’t try to research it on google. Just think it through and place your comments below.
I will reveal the Gypsy Method of training bears (and dogs?) in a week or two. Until then, have fun with this thought experiment.