Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Magic of Dogs by Cordelia Dinsmore

The Magic of Dogs
by
CORDELIA DINSMORE
 
 



                There is chemistry between kids and dogs that is pure magic. I long to recapture some of that magic for myself, so for the last eight years or so I have been a volunteer leader for our county’s 4H dog project. We show kids the ropes for training their dogs, both for competition and for their general well-being. The project has steadily grown from a grand total of four to over thirty. Part of that growth has been due to the Herculean efforts my fellow leaders and I have made in promoting the project, and part of it has been a result of the agility equipment we built.

                The project encompasses showmanship, obedience, and agility, but it’s the agility that both the dogs and the kids crave. Naturally, there’s no comparing flying over jumps and barreling through tunnels to sedately walking at heel around a ring while some strange dog tries to sniff your backside. But one of the goals of the program is to teach the kids how to train their dogs to be enjoyable members of the family.

                Dogs are natural leaders, and they don’t easily relinquish that role. Given the choice, they’ll always be the first to rush outside for playtime, or begin gobbling their food before receiving permission. And they heartily resist being told where and when to pee. But with patience and consistency, the kids can teach their canine companions all of these things, and it’s just short of magic when they see the results of all their hard work.

                While the agility is great fun, it’s the obedience and showmanship training that provides the hands-on, focused interaction between the kids and their dogs. In a few short months, the dogs turn from a yapping, jumping, out-of-control pack into a focused, obedient extension of the kid at the other end of the leash; a smiling, confident, self-assured kid.

                Writing can be a lot like training a dog. A plot that’s not kept on a tight leash, or characters that wander around out of control, can undermine your best efforts. If you don’t take your edits seriously, you can end up with a stinky mess. Have fun with the hoops and ladders, but make sure you have the groundwork firmly established first.    


Learn more abotu Cordelia at her blog http://cordeliadinsmore.blogspot.com/

15 comments:

Mindy Hardwick said...

What a great project for kids! I have a cocker spaniel who comes from a long line of agility dogs. I've been puppy training him for the last six months. It's a big job! Thanks so much for sharing this project!

Amaleen Ison said...

How fantastic and rewarding. I grew up in a house with no fewer than 15 dogs, and my parents had me training them from a young age. It's such a great experience for young people.
Lovely to hear about this project and all your good work.

Cordelia Dinsmore said...

Thanks for coming by and commenting, Amaleen and Mindy. Fifteen dogs? I guess I'm a bad mother because I only let my kids have one. But we have lots of cats and still have one horse, so I'm not feeling guilty - yet.

Dodsworth Simplejohn said...

Sounds like a great project ,Cordelia!! Kindness ,Creativity ,and an urge toward helping the little ones ,MUST run in the Family :)

Cordelia Dinsmore said...

Dodsworth - you're a bit creative yourself, I'd say! Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving the lovely comment. You're growing on me as time goes by.

Adam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam said...

Very nice article, and I love the analogy at the end. I applaud your generosity in spending your time in such a helpful manner. I'm sure the kids enjoy every minute of it. And I know the dogs love the attention. Good job.

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Sharon Ledwith said...

Sit. Stay. Sit. Stay. And that's just the characters in my head! Kudos to you - I know how rewarding it is to work with animals!

annmontclair said...

What a lovely extended metaphor: I love dogs and writing!

Linda Benson said...

Cordelia - how wonderful to get kids and dogs together. I know of no better combination, and kudos to you for all your hard work. As the owner of a rambunctious year-old Border collie/Aussie cross, I wish we could try out your agility course! At the moment, we (mostly) have sit and stay down pat, but we're still working on excessive exuberance. If only I could channel some of this dog's energy into my writing!

Cordelia Dinsmore said...

Linda - your breed is perfect for the agility course. The only ones I've seen that loved it more are the Heelers. They're naturals at it. My own queen of the house is a Springer Spaniel mix, and she can't get enough of it.

Thanks for all the lovely comments, everyone. Keep 'em coming.

dustycrabtree said...

Love the analogy to writing - it made me laugh because it fits so well! I'm a dog lover myself - 7 1/2 year old pit bull (who thinks she's 2 still) and a 3 year old boxer (who is a scaredy cat). They've been best friends ever since we brought the boxer home!

Bette said...

Anyone who loves dogs is a friend to me! At the moment, I am on better terms with my boyfriends' dog than my boyfriend. ;)

Cordelia Dinsmore said...

Thanks so much for the comments! And yes, Bette, I can see why - dogs know when to keep their mouths shut.

And I need to send a special thank you to Dominique for loaning the pics of her own puppies for my article. That was very generous of her.