Monthly Archives: March 2019

Puppy school

Since the end of January, my wife and I have been taking our dog to obedience classes at a local American Kennel Club program. Evidently there are a lot of schools of thought when it comes to dog training. Some trainings use treats as positive reinforcement. The school that my wife and I joined uses verbal commands only (sound familiar?)

Puppy training reminds me a lot of my days as a teacher training apprentice. With unruly pups you have to use a loud voice and clear commands. As I have a gentle nature, this doesn’t come naturally to me (as it hasn’t for all my years teaching yoga). As a result, our dog isn’t quite at the top of her class. That is okay with my wife and I as we want her to enjoy her puppyhood.

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One day before class we took her early to run her so she wouldn’t have so much energy during class. We unleashed her and threw a tennis ball on the field. ¬†Instead of bringing the ball back, she ran right past us and toward the trainers who were just arriving. The trainers had to restrain the dog until we could catch up to her. My wife and I were duly scolded. “You have to keep your dog on a leash or else something really bad can happen,” the trainers barked. My wife and I silently nodded in shame.

We are not trying to win the Westminster Dog Show with our dog Kinako, we simply want her to stay when she needs to stay, come when she needs to come, and sit when she needs to sit. That is a lot to ask from a six month old puppy.

Our dog doesn’t always sit, but found out by studying us how to open the unlocked sliding screen door. I often joke that she is training us instead of the other way around. She is quite intelligent.

As puppy classes are held late on Wednesday nights, and I teach yoga early Thursday mornings, I have caught myself bluring the two together. The other day in yoga class I asked students to get straps and was amazed at how everyone simply got up and got their prop with one instruction. Realizing I was no longer trying to train a puppy, I had to switch back into my yoga teacher role and demo the pose. I also have to watch myself when someone is doing a correct instruction not to praise them lavishly like I do in puppy classes. I end up praising them anyway.

The dog is a reflection of their owner. Our half obedient pup is a reflection of my training her. But her bubbly Golden Retriever personality has not been blunted in the process. She has a playful side that I don’t every want her to lose. Perhaps accepting your dog as a dog with all its dog flaws is the greatest love you can give.

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This blog hasn’t gone to the dogs yet

Hi everyone! It’s been a busy few months since my wife and I got our puppy Kinako. When we first got her in November she weighed 10 pounds. Now she is clocking in at 50 pounds of Goldern Retriever! That’s a lot of dog. Some have said raising a dog is in many ways harder than raising a baby, as the dog is quite mobile and active even after a few weeks. After the potty training, the teething, the destroying of property, getting spayed, and a few weeks of puppy school, I think our family is now starting to sort things out into less chaos.

I am still teaching and practicing. In fact this past weekend I was lucky enough to sneak away from subbing duties to attend a part of Kofi Busia’s workshop at the East Honolulu Yoga Center. If you have read my other entries about Kofi’s classes, he pretty much gets you settled into a posture and then lectures about a wide range of topics that somehow relate to the asana you are doing.

He compared the design of a hammer to that of a mallet and cited the obvious refinement of the hammer design to that of the clunky mallet. He spoke of the designer of the modern weighted hammer, a blacksmith who was only interested in refining the design of an established tool. I was too busy maintaining my dandasana to get the name of the inventor who Kofi mentioned several times. But after thinking about it after class, it is an obvious parallel to BKS Iyengar who saw the asanas that was being practiced, and refined them to be more impactful. There were a lot of other deeper gems from the workshop, but that was the only one my mind had clung to.

From that small dissertation, I was inspired in many ways not just about yoga, but about other aspects of my life. The common thread is that the hammer designer, the ice axe designer, the golf club designer, and Iyengar all saw what was hiding in plain sight and refined it to paradigm shifting usefulness.

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The garden is still going well. Above are Meyer lemon blossoms which will lead to fruit late this year. Gardening with a dog is challenging. Especially given her predilection for flower pots (the kind with flowers still in them). They are by far her favorite toys probably due to their destructiveness when hurled against things. You learn to not get too attached to your favorite plants. I’ve had to install fencing around parts of my garden to keep her out. Sometimes I’ll see a plant missing and dug up, only to find its rooty shreds underneath my blanket along with a flower pot just before bedtime. I can’t get mad, it’s some twisted form of a love offering. I can honestly say I haven’t had a matching pair of socks since getting the dog. Sometimes I find a long lost argyle when watering my basil. I haven’t laughed this hard at personal loss in a long time.

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Bitter melon, daikon, basil in a mulch of grass. Probably a few socks in there too.