The Sekrit Dog Trainer’s Manual Part I

You want a good dog right? Doesn’t everyone? One that doesn’t bowl over the kids, bite people, snarl, snap, jump up, be bratty and act like a knucklehead at home or in public?

You go to a dog training class and the trainer’s dog is awesome. After a month, while your dog now knows a few things, but it’s still not calm and obedient. Everything is a struggle.

You teach Fluffykins “heel/sit/down//stay/stand/come” but that doesn’t help. You can’t afford a private trainer, or you’re discouraged and you don’t know what to do. Why is the dog trainer’s dog well-behaved and yours isn’t? Because they don’t have the time, in one hour a week to cover more than the basics. Most videos etc. are about how to train the dog–not how to live with it.

Here’s some insider tricks that will cut your training work down, make your dog easier to live with and you’ll suffer less “Am I being mean to my dog?” guilt.

Training will go faster and the neighbours will be awestruck by how well mannered your Fluffykins is.

#1 DOORS:

Teach the dog to sit at every door, in and out. First off, it will slow the dog down for when you want to go for a walk, getting it in a good frame of mind and just like video games–rushing the door, for a dog is dangerous. Plus YOU can get hurt. I can’t count the amount of people I’ve known that were injured around stairs and doors with dogs. [I also teach mine to sit at the top and bottom of stairs until I call, for safety reasons.]

Almost all dog trainers train their dogs in the “place” command or at least have a particular spot where Fido stays when they answer the door. This cuts down the door nonsense of over-excitement and leaping on the guests or others coming in the door. Also, the “place” command has saved many a pizza. Remember, a dog’s speed is directly proportional to the amount of slices and quantity of available pepperoni.

Never greet a dog at the door. Ignore it. Every time.  Cesar Milan called it right on this one. No Touch. No Talk. No Eye Contact.

Yeah, I know that happy wagging tail makes you want to cuddle His Royal Cuteness right away but YIELD NOT TO TEMPTATION. You’ll thank me for it in less than a month when coming home with groceries and you aren’t mugged at the door for your gourmet hamburgers.

#2 LEARN TO COUNT:
If you want to teach an obedience command, if you do it 10x every day for the 7 days between classes [or between video lessons etc] then by the end of the week your dog will have done that command 70 times. The time it takes for a dog dumber than a bag of rocks or more stubborn than a cat to learn a command is 35 repetitions. You’ve doubled it and you have a smart dog, right?  Take that dog to its next class and wow your fellow classmates. No excuses–it takes 15 minutes a day a week to learn one new command. In twenty to thirty minutes you can mix it up with all the old commands. All the basics can be done in 6 weeks Now, WHO doesn’t have “time to train”?

#3 THE WEEK OF DOOM

The Week of Doom aka The Attitude Adjustment: This is a game changer for a disrespectful or teenage rebel dog or oooo, the poor rescue dog <weep sob>. Doesn’t matter if you’ve messed it up and spoiled Fluffykins forever, it will still help as long as all the family members abide by it for seven days. Not only will it help the dog–it will help YOU and your family develop good dog management habits.

The marvellous thing about the Week of Doom is that no matter how much you’ve messed up–this is your chance to improve it. Age doesn’t matter. Length of time you owned the dog doesn’t matter.

Even if you are working with a dog trainer over aggression, it won’t hurt and could move things along a lot faster. It will cause a nervous dog to see you as more stable and trustworthy.

One reason dog trainers are more successful in getting your dog to be obedient than you are, is that dogs are their living–they depend on results and they have no strong emotional bond to your animal.

So, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t love Fluffykins to bits. I’m saying that if your dog is treating you disrespectfully or training is a struggle, it’s time for The Week of Doom. You only have to hold out for one week because Fluffykins is likely to be obeying much better by day four but don’t give in. This is as much about who lives with the dog, as the dog.

So, gird your loins, polish your saddle and forward ho!

The dog gets NO freedom. All week. No toys. Take them away. Be firm. Be strong. Be a dog trainer for seven days. Nobody pets. Nobody plays. Nobody gives the dog treats. Just tell them, “Fluffykins is on his Week of Doom.

If the dog has to potty, take it on a leash. No shooing it out into the back yard. If you are inside the dog is either in “place” or laying down at your feet while you keep it down by stepping on the leash. Walk it to food and water–it is NEVER off the lead. If it needs exercise, use a long rope or lunge line and play ball or let it run a bit. Don’t allow any other dog to approach or play with your dog.

It must obey every command it knows, 100% of the time to perfection. Don’t say anything you aren’t willing to back up for one whole week. If you can’t back it up, don’t say it. Make a commitment.

If it’s not with you, or someone else behaving on leash then it’s crated. It can’t sleep in the bed, nap on the couch or receive any other unearned [at this point] privilege. For one week, all privileges are revoked. No treats. In this whole week NEVER raise your voice. Fix problems that occur, don’t waste time yelling at the dog about them. Tell everyone else in the house to stop yelling at the dog, too.  It’s simple but it’s not easy. Nobody is to hit the dog or manhandle the dog–leash work ONLY. That’s the big commitment you have to make.

In my experience, people tend to yell or hit because A) it’s habit and B) they feel powerless over the dog’s behaviour. In the Week of Doom you have full control of the situation because you have your plan laid out before you and it’s as much your Week of Doom, as Fido’s.

Forward HO!

Unless the dog follows a command–it gets no petting. HOLD FAST! BE STRONG! It’s only one week. You’re not going to damage Fluffykin’s psyche by not petting for one week because in actual fact, if it was at a training kennel–that’s exactly what would happen.

What’s the purpose of this? It’s not to be mean or punitive. It’s to open up the dogs willingness to work with you and your willingness to work with the dog. By instituting The Week Of Doom you are saying, in dog terms, without violence, yelling or cruelty “I want to work with you. This is how we work together as a team. I am through with yelling at you, manhandling you, mis-communicating and treating you with a lack of respect.

I want the same in return. Now it’s time we worked as a team.”

If you make a mistake or are inconsistent during your Week of Doom, don’t give up and stop.

Just carry on boldly with your Week of Doom.

I’ve never seen a dog who didn’t improve its attitude exponentially after A Week of Doom. It won’t frighten the dog or freak them out even if it’s nervous because in dog terms, nobody is acting unstable. Quite the opposite. If the dog or you revert to your old habits a month or more after the exercise–go back to A Couple of Days of Doom or An Extra Week of Doom until you both improve. You can do it as many times as you and your dog need [especially if you’re a “yeller” or inconsistent] because it won’t hurt the dog.

Why is it called, “The Week of Doom“?

Because you will smile every time you think “We are working on our Week of Doom“. <Cue dramatic music> Smiling means not yelling and not being unstable in the eyes of the dog. It sounds like something from Lord of the Rings. It’s an adventure that you can handle for a week to improve your relationship with your dog. And the dog will pick up your positive attitude and be more willing to work with you.

Frodo’s quest to Mount Doom, saved Middle Earth.

Your quest on the Week of Doom is to improve your relationship with your dog.

End of Part I.

When Is a Dog Trainer “Too Nice”?

High stress dog training…

“If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders ARE clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.”–Sun Tzu

Of course, The Drama Prince aced his class again!

What I saw last night makes me wonder why I’m not back at dog training. Hopefully, it will get better and I DID learn something interesting that might help the DP’s “come” command but the dogs?

OH. MY. GOD.

First off, most of them are on harnesses or the wrong collars. You can’t train a dog on a harness unless it’s very tiny and very very submissive. And that doesn’t describe this crew of reprobates.

One little fuzzy white dog is a terror. I wondered why such a well-groomed owner had such a sloppy looking dog. The little fart is “handler aggressive”–meaning it bites the person on the other end of the leash. I’d have slapped that brat on a check chain, martingale or mini-prong [even a flat would have worked better] and put an end to the tantrum post haste. Just getting it to sit, without biting, took up 15 minutes of everyone’s time. Obviously the owner can’t groom it–because it’s attacking her. I couldn’t believe the power struggle. If the trainer had used the pressure point in the dog’s thigh and lifted up with a collar, that brat would have been sitting before you could say “milkbones”. It’s not about “outwaiting” the dog in a power struggle IMO–it’s about outsmarting the dog.

I really like one big black dog, C–but he’s ‘way too big and muscular for the owner–add to that, she was wearing thong sandals, about the most dangerous foot gear ever to dog train in–he’s rambunctious and silly but she hasn’t got the collar correct fit for him. I can SEE that C is trying to learn, he’s not mean–but he’s just not getting the message of what she wants because she’s having to “muscle” him which is dangerous for both of them if he drags her into a crowded street. She was waving one of those plastic dog bone bags that was tied to the end of the leash and I pointed out to her that the plastic wonking him in the face was freaking C, out. Did she take it off the leash? No. Poor C just kept getting wonked.

One is a nice dog, a Rhodesian ridge-back but the owner has her on a flat collar. So, again, the communication is messed up. That dog is really TRYING to be good. While I have, and can train a dog at some levels with a flat collar, that’s not something I’d recommend to someone without a fair bit of experience.

What I’m NOT understanding about this class is why the trainer is not telling the owners that it’s not about the dog behaving in the backyard–it’s about the dog behaving everywhere. It’s not what you train the dog to do–it’s about doing what its asked when there are distractions around.

Nor has the trainer said, even once, what I always told owners and what most trainers I’ve met tells owners, “You must work with this dog a minimum of 15 minutes, twice per day, every day, in all kinds of circumstances while we are working together and you will have a good dog in 6 weeks.” [actually I used to train for 5 weeks].

Nor did she teach a release command. Sheeyit.

I guess I’m a bit frustrated. I know the instructor only has an hour to get her point across to 7 dog owners and I can only hope it gets better.

I guess I don’t understand it. Maybe I’ll understand more about her ideas, later.

My first and only formal CKC style obedience class at 20 would NOT have allowed all this useless gear [all dogs had to be on check chains and proper 6ft leather leashes] nor were the dogs allowed to sniff and leap around and act like hyperactive stooges at ANY time.

I didn’t allow owners who called me because their dogs acted like crap, to decide what gear to use on the dog. They had one week to purchase what I told them to–or I wouldn’t train the dog. And it’s not asking a lot–we’re talking here about a collar and a proper leash–$20-$30.

I don’t ‘get it’?

She’s a lovely person, the instructor. She’s been in business a long time.

I’m all for “encouragement” and “motivation”.

For me, the one thing I am getting out of it, is it keeps me focused when I’m bored or distracted. It’s forcing me to commit to working with my dog on a daily basis. I’m not sure it’s doing a whole lot for the Drama Prince. We’ll see if her recall trick works well. It might be the solution I need before I fork out for an e-collar.

Is a dog trainer “too nice” if they don’t demand a level of performance, owner engagement between classes and basic training tools?

Or am I being unreasonable?

Bragging Rights

Okay I can’t help it.

I get bragging rights.

So last Tuesday I took the Drama Prince to his first obedience class.
He aced it.

If dogs could show off–I’m pretty sure he was strutting it.

While other dogs were leaping, barking and generally acting up, he laid quietly while I listened to instructions.

The instructor, Dorothy, started with “heel” so people could walk their dogs without ripping their armpits out, from week one.

One dog owner was seriously struggling with a leaping, joyous, overly friendly, Big Black Dog.

I really liked that dog. The sad part was that the owner looked defeated. Now her BBD did quite well for his first try. So, at the end I explained to her that the Drama Prince was much like that when I got him and if she stuck with it–BBD would soon improve. It didn’t seem to help.

I could see the problem. A slender, gentle, polite woman with 80lb 6 month exuberant puppy. Hopefully she’ll “firm up” and her BBD will calm down.

Mind you, Dear Reader–I “cheated”. When the instructor was talking, I stood on the Drama Prince’s leash much of the time as he laid there, so he couldn’t bounce around from distraction and I could pay attention without being distracted by him. By the time I “heeled” him–he’d already calmed himself from the long down.

Hahaha Dog Trainer trick 101. “Down” the dog, stand on the leash and the dog will create the pressure if it tries to move. It will also get bored and go to sleep, eventually.

The class was awed by the Drama Prince’s good manners.

Tonight is his next lesson. I assume it is “heel/sit”. He should ace that, as well.

Do you think I should “let the cat out of the bag” on this?

Stupid Shit That Dog Owners Do

“Never underestimate the dangerousness of a dog’s natural reflexes”–Charles Eisenmann, Dog Educator, Littlest Hobo

Okay, after visiting numerous dog parks, observing at this point over 90 dogs here’s my list of Stupid Shit that Dog Owners Do. And yes, I’ve been guilty of some stupid dog owner moments, too. However, as responsible dog owners we should all be trying to do less stupid shit.

1)  Owners that let their male dogs pee all over the neighbours’ manicured gardens.

2) Owners that walk their on-leash exuberant dog face-first into a dog who is obviously heeling, downing or sitting without asking  permission. How do you know my dog is not a crazed psychopath who eats Flufflykins for lunch? You don’t.

Funny though, when I had Bouviers, nobody ever dared this, due to their reputation as killer guard dogs. With the Drama Prince looking all “Littlest Hobo” they seem to figure it’s okay.

I’m beginning to understand the Pit Bull Lurve. Nobody is walking their FurBaby face-first into a pit bull without asking.

3) Owners that allow their off-leash dogs outside of a dog park to come flying up to other dogs and people. When you tell them “CALL YOUR DOG” they then blame the person who is following the law by asking, “Is your dog aggressive?” WTF?! I can’t tell you how many dogs I had to threaten to kick away from my old arthritic dog over that nonsense.

At least when I am stupid *I* will apologize because *I* am at fault if it happens. I try not to let it happen but hey, I’m human, I slip up and I didn’t see you coming around the corner before I could call/retrieve the dog. But I’ll try not to be stupid about it. Honest.

3) Dog walkers with half a dozen dogs of which too many, go postal at dog parks. More on the stupidity of allowing multi-dog walkers at dog parks, later. It’s a whole other blog. I’ll link it here when it’s written.

4) Owners and dog walkers who have aggressive or badly behaved dogs hauling them around on leashes inside dog parks.. And you’re there with that dog, exactly, why?

5) Owners who feed my dog treats without permission. Owners that think one treat = half a pound of cookies that give my dog the runs.

6) Owners that don’t grab their dog and haul it off when it’s committing a bullying offence such as snarling, mounting, t-boning, toy guarding and gang-banging other dogs.

Some are on cell phones, notebooks or other gadgets while others sit on a bench and yell “Fido! Stop, Stop, Fido Don’t! Fido Come back!” [like the dog is listening] then shoot me dirty looks when a slow old lady with arthritis tackles their dog by the collar and yanks it off. Call out once, if the dog doesn’t obey get off your ass and remove your dog. Otherwise, learn to use a remote collar but DO SOMETHING.

7) Dog lovers who tell me my dog looks “sad” because he’s laying down doing a “head too” [head on his paws].

8) Dog owners that don’t pick up their dog shit. And yes, LITTLE dog shit is still dog shit.

9) Dog owners that bag their dog shit then leave toss the dog shit bag on the ground or worse, hang the bag on a tree branch because a garbage bin is more than three feet away.

10) Owners that tell their kid to wave their hand in a fist under my dog’s nose is the correct way to introduce themselves to a dog. {For the record, the correct way to meet a new dog is to stand slightly sideways, look/speak with the owner and ask if it’s okay to approach then let the dog sniff you. At this point a proper dog owner will usually “sit” or “down” the dog, then tell the kid when it’s okay to pet the dog.}

11) Owners that screech at their dogs or holler commands. And contrary to popular opinion, it’s not only women that think “louder” = more effective.

12) Owners who say, “Let the dogs sort it out.” Guess what–dogs often don’t “sort it out”. Many can’t sort out NOT to hump or play tackle a dog with dysplasia, or joint problems or who are not feeling well or who might be young, nervous or rambunctious. You know what pack animals who are not well-trained do to weak or unstable {and particularly “outsider”} animals? They KILL them. Watch National Geographic for a change, people.

13) Dog owners who tell me that my dog looks scared on the bus because his ears are back and his eyes are closed. I didn’t know scared dogs fell asleep. Thanks for the revelation, Dr. Dunbar’s Lost Assistant.

14) Owners that tell to use their training method is when I didn’t ask their opinion.  Even when their dog is a complete putz and can’t follow a basic command without being told three times, or is growling or leaping at MY dog.

Especially annoying if their dog is over three years of age and the owner is still walking around with a pocket full of soggy dog treats or clutching a toy like it’s the last life preserver on the Titanic. If the dog cannot behave in public without a whiff of liver snaps or waving a toy in its face past adulthood–it’s either in the first stages of training or someone is doing something wrong– no matter what training method is preferred. There’s a reason treats are not allowed in any trials of dog behaviour whether they’re therapy dogs or in the CKC ring.

Don’t believe me? Research sled dogs, protection dogs, guard dogs, Schutzhunds, guide dogs, sheep dogs, racing dogs, hunting dogs and practically any other working dog on the planet.

Sometimes they are successfully trained with food/toys/clickers but they’ll still perform admirably without them.

I just wanna see Fluffykins manage without bribery or correction before I take a stranger’s advice.

14) Owners using extenda-leashes. Most dangerous dog device evar. [http://news.consumerreports.org/safety/2009/03/retractable-leashes-pose-problems-for-people-and-their-pets.html] Just. Say. No.

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  • Dogs Observed: 10
  • Dogs Walking Nicely on Leash: 1
  • Dogs Heeling Off Leash: 0
  • Dogs Recall: 1
  • Good Companion: 0
  • Basic Obedience: 0

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?

Wrong.

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.

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  • 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

Not Worth A Can of Tuna–Open Letter about the McGuinty Budget.

I’m going to do something I hate to do in a blog. I’m going to shame myself publicly. Writing personal tales is something I find humiliating.

But I’m going to do it. Why? Because someone needs to say it.

Obviously, Mr. McGuinty—I’m not worth a can of tuna to you.

Can of Tuna

The measly 1% that you agreed to raise ODSP/OW rates this year, you are flushing in the name of “tightening the budget”. Mr. McGuinty I don’t know how much tighter I can make mine. I didn’t know being disabled was supposed to be a punishment.

Yes, this year I bought a computer because my old one was dying. Guilty as charged. I know from buying computers that you get what you pay for so I saved for 18 months to have $600 to spend. I have no TV, no radio, no CD or DVD player. All I have is a computer. Twice, due to emergencies I had to put off buying it in that 18 months.

Do you know what I went without for 18 months, Mr. McGuinty? All my long johns are full of holes. If you haven’t noticed, it’s cold in Canada. I own one nice towel with no holes that cost $2 at Value Village. I do not own one bra that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in at my doctor’s because the elastic has failed and they’re full of holes.

My transportation, an e-trike needs repairs. That’s how I used to find my groceries on sale and bring them home. It’s outside rusting right now because I can’t afford to pay to get it fixed. If my friend didn’t take me grocery shopping weekly I don’t know what I’d do.

I go nowhere unnecessary because it costs $6 to get there and back. I confess that two months ago I had a pizza because someone else bought it. I haven’t had a fresh vegetable in two weeks. My duvet is falling apart and I can’t replace it. I haven’t seen a movie in a theatre for over five years.

In my entire adult life I have not had a vacation.

Do you know what I bought myself for Christmas Mr. McGuinty? A good dish drainer. Because my old one kept leaking all over the counter. What did you get for Christmas, Mr. McGuinty?

Now let me tell you, Mr. McGuinty what I did to deserve that can of tuna.

I worked from the time I was 16. When young, I worked high risk security and investigations. There are people alive and paying you taxes today that might not be if I hadn’t broken up that domestic fight, stopped a man from blowing up his car and taking out the side of a building, investigated some wives’ allegations that their spouses were dangerous to themselves and children, and stopped a riot in a hallway where two families in adjacent apartments came out with blunt instruments and were about to beat each other to death when myself with some other guards came to break it up at great risk to ourselves.

For barely more than minimum wage. That’s just a few incidents off the top of my head.

When I was married I had foster kids some of whom I never saw a dime for, and worked, too. What’s that worth to you?

I rarely had any medical benefits other than OHIP. I paid expenses such as meagre dental and medications out of my pocket, saved my money, only ever collected EI two times in my whole working life and paid a fortune into it.

In later years when I could no longer tackle big men if I needed to—I went to school for social services. After all, I’d been dealing with difficult people all my life with panache, humour, understanding and when necessary, firmness. Good fit, right?

That threw me into a miasma of debt even though I worked the whole time, only to come out the other end working as many as three jobs to make ends meet. Contract work. When I could no longer rob Peter to pay Paul– I squatted in Tent City while I worked part time. When I got there I was 20 lbs underweight from starving myself for months to pay my bills.

When we were housed, no thanks to you, I might add—I went back to work full time but still, contracts.

After years of struggling inside and outside the systems, my body collapsed and my mind shattered.

I wound up on ODSP.

There are people ALIVE and well today Mr. McGuinty because I saved their lives. When I found people overdosing I did CPR until the ambulance came. I went through the dark alleys and found the lost, the hopeless. I tried to show them a place in this world that wasn’t quite so dark.

When they died or were murdered, I grieved.

Mine isn’t the only story like that out there, Mr. McGuinty.

I feel blessed because some people have it even worse. And some have done even more to earn that pittance called Ontario Disability. Some of them are freezing on the streets. Some are ex-cops, firefighters, social workers, veterans and other life-savers who have put their lives on the line to save others which is more than you will ever do.

Even those that have never been able to work are out there, volunteering, helping other people, generous with the gifts they bring even if their skills don’t pay.

Apparently, none of us are worth a can of tuna to you.

The Edge of the Well Oiled Knife

http://www.theprovince.com/business/Enbridge+pipeline+faces+unbroken+wall+opposition+from+First+Nations/5797063/story.html

Toronto Star

This country stands at the edge of a knife. It’s not Robocalls, scandals, wealth redistribution, poverty, lack of employment or corrupt banks that will push this nation across the line into throwing their bodies on the machine. Nobody is willing to die for any of those causes.

We stand at the brink of civil war. A civil war with huge governmental resources on one side and First Nations, environmentalists and a large percentage of the Canadian population on the other.

Harper has managed to do what even Matthew Coon Come couldn’t do. He has managed to sufficiently piss off every single Aboriginal nation into cleaving together as one huge resistance movement. He’s managed to pull on board, every environmental group into a unit that Canadians are not denouncing, but applauding.

People are willing to die for this. And they’re willing to die because the lack of water, oil spills and pollution are going to kill them soon, anyway. For what? Less than 600 full time jobs and a few thousand temp jobs? “Job creation” isn’t even a valid argument in a land this size with that pitiful showing.

Make no mistake. If Harper does not back down, when the dust clears—there won’t be a nation left for him to rule because Canadians are not letting this pipeline through. Even Obama saw the risk of civil war breaking out with First Nations and environmentalists in the USA.

“S/he who cares the most, wins.”

First Nations have everything to lose and nothing to gain from this pipeline. Harper has nothing to lose except the government he’s sworn to uphold and a sassy fat new job at Enron when through his deliberate, greedy machinations, he throws this country into a civil war.

http://beta.images.theglobeandmail.com/archive/01045/First_Nations_oppo_1045443a.pdf

Effective Protests–The Man in The Tree

‘Way back when I was pushing for squatter’s rights I supported a man in a tree.

Yeah, you read that right. A man who lived in a tree. Been so long I’ve forgotten his name or the park in the USA where he lived in the tree but really, the details don’t matter.

He was homeless. So, he moved into a big tree in a public park.

He placed a little sign at the bottom of the tree. “Support Public Housing.”

People passing by noticed The Man in The Tree. One of them was part of the squatter’s rights movement and that’s how people from all over the world started talking about The Man In The Tree.

No media covered him. He wasn’t important. He was just some crazy guy living in a tree. All he wanted was a place to live and at least it wasn’t on the wet ground below and he had a bit of protection from the rain.

Soon the people who frequented the park started bringing him food and clothes and carrying buckets to do his business in. An outreach worker that knew about our squatting email tree sent around update bulletins.

The City Council got wind of it and paid $25,000 to put a fence  up to stop people from supporting the Man in The Tree. The cops took away his sign.

People who lived near the park then climbed the fence and fed him, brought water bottles and handed off his slop buckets.

Within a month the City council ordered a 24/7, $25+per hour police guard while they passed anti-camping legislation. Since police protocol stated there must be two policeman together at all times, two police watched him. Nobody narked out how he got food after that point but I suspect the police were quietly handing it up.

58 days later they arrested the Man in The Tree. Add up the math. How many people could have been housed while the City Council harassed The Man in The Tree?

60 days after that the city council agreed to build 50 housing units because a few dozen squatter’s movement people were debating with them and sending the word around.

Whether The Man In The Tree moved into one unit or not, I couldn’t say.

The Man in the Tree wasn’t an activist. He had no organization. He had no money, no resources, no friends, no computer, no video camera, no media contacts and no hope that sleeping in a tree would change anything. He had no history of activism or experience.

Whenever I look at some “movement” or other and whether or not I want to put my energy into it, I ask myself, “Is this The Man In The Tree? Would I do this even if I was alone with no support because it is the right thing to do, just because it is, and not because of group pressure or popularity?

Do I believe in it enough to sacrifice for an untold amount of time and have everyone believe me to be crazy just because someone has to do the right thing? Am I really willing to throw my body on the machine for this?”

And before you ask me to ‘join your movement’–you’d best be able to answer those questions, yourself. If you can convince me of your sincerity and passion–then you are well on your way to convincing anyone else you meet whether or not they agree to join you.