Are You Hiding Your Dog’s Light Under a Bushel?

Shining the Blues On Everybody

You think Fido is wonderful. He’s lively and cute. The whole world should love him and see his inner awesomeness, right?

Or, he had a pitiful rescue story and everyone should feel sympathy for your poor dog, right?


Are you hiding your dog’s light under a bushel?

Dogs are smart. They learn what you teach them. Even adult, freaked-out rescues.

When a dog jumps all over me, or interrupts our conversation, or barks insistently, or craps on your floor when I visit, or bangs me with toys, or we can’t walk and talk strolling down the street because Fido is dragging you, or snarling at my dog… children can’t pet him because he; nips, growls, snarls or jumps up and knocks them over, just where is his awesomeness then?

He’s either awesome or he’s not. Like people, first impressions, count.

Lots of dogs are cute. They can all pour on the big-sad-pound-puppy eyes, cross their paws, leap at the treat bag, sleep on the sofa, snore, chase their tails and make you laugh. They can all dance in exuberance.

Your dog is not special. Yet.

S/he’s not your furbaby or your furkid.  Respect its nature. Don’t use a dog to get your own childhood need for unconditional love, met.

Love is acceptance. Accept your dog for being a dog.  Love is in the actions you commit, not your feelings. Teach him to be the best dog s/he can be.

Have you ever seen  a whole bus load of people light up with smiles when they see a well-behaved dog trot on the bus? Or a group of children grin and giggle when they see a dog that is calm and gentle they can run up to pet?

A child shouldn’t need a PHD in dog behaviour to know how to approach a dog correctly. While it’s good to teach a child this, without it–a child who doesn’t know any better should always be safe with your dog.

I met a little boy with a ripped open face full of stitches. His neighbour’s GSD tore his face open less than a week before. The GSD had been left chained in the hot sun with no supervision. The boy felt sorry for the dog and wanted to fill it’s empty water bowl on a sweltering day. The kid knew the dog for years. He’d filled the water bowl before.

Trembling, the boy told me the story, and asked, “Can I pet your dog?” Now a half a dozen dogs were being walked around the park. Did he want to pet those dogs? No.

Some of them were little, less threatening-sized dogs.

I laid the Drama Prince down and the shaky boy started petting at the end with no teeth, eventually working his way to ear rubbing. It ended with some left paw/right paw handshakes with a sitting dog.

I thought “what a brave boy!” and told him so. Would that child have approached a leaping, bouncing dog that he worried the owner could not control?

That is “letting your dog’s light shine”. If you are a religious person, that would be the moment where your dog did “God’s work”.

What happens if you die, or become too  ill to care for your beloved dog? Is your dog trained enough that any dog lover in the neighbourhood might want your dog so s/he isn’t hauled off to the shelter? Can your big dog be walked by someone who is young or disabled or elderly? Could practically any dog lover home take him and be proud to have it?  Does your vet like to see your dog come in the door–or dread it?

Is your dog cute to the world at large or only cute to you?

The world is not forgiving of dogs who cannot behave with socially acceptable manners. Not everyone is shilling you dog products so they won’t make a fuss over the terrorist dog, Fluffykins. People and other dogs sense if your dog is unstable or untrained.

One thing I learned working with guard dogs is that all dogs are potential weapons. Even small dogs attacking a working dog can be costly in terms of veterinarian bills, liability, doctor bills and time off work.

Most people wouldn’t hesitate to take a firearms safety course or practise at  a gun club before firing a weapon. They keep the safety on around children. They don’t leave their loaded weapons lying around for children to find. Nobody is born knowing firearm safety.

Yet many people don’t have that attitude towards their dogs.

Training your dog brings out your dog’s light.

Training is not “mean” it won’t “change his personality” or any other such nonsense. It allows the whole world see the awesomeness that you see in your dog.

Your mission as a dog owner, if you choose to accept it–is to teach your dog to shine its light and improve the world.


  • Dogs Observed: 12
  • Dogs Walking Nicely on Leash: 0
  • Dogs off leash: 0
  • Dogs that Recall: 1
  • Dogs that could pass Good Companion: 0
  • Dogs that could pass a basic Obedience Trial: 0

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