May 10th, 2010


Niki, our nine year old Lab mix snapped at (bit?) a little girl two weeks ago.  We had already concluded  (or Dianne had already concluded) that we needed to restore our positions as pack leaders.  So we bought a new training system (The Perfect Dog) off the TV and started the new regimen yesterday; at the same time I am beginning a self constructed course in Tibetan Dzogchen mindfulness training. wherein I should learn to extend loving kindness to all sentient beings including, of course, Niki.

Among the things that I must do in retraining Niki that I have never done before is withholding food from the table and stopping feeding her from my  hand.  The pack leader never shares food.  Also, the pack leader never admits to making a mistake.  The spiritual seeker, on the other hand. does just the opposite.  She must occasionally share food and often admit to making many mistakes.  Also, in training a dog, I do not forgive mistakes on her part.  In the past I have forgiven "seventy times seven" occasions of barking, jumping on people, disobedience, etc, etc.

I am assured by my Tibetan guides that emptying my mind.  taking all suffering upon myself and wishing only goodness for others is part of the path that leads to peace and freedom.  I am assured by my dog training guide that control and discipline (together with affection and exercise, of course) will bring her peace and freedom.

Transspecies interaction and compassion is always a little bit tricky.  Even withing our human species we argue about how the "golden rule" can best be stated.  Perhaps it should be: treat others in such a way that your treatment will contribute to the best possible life for them.

That the pack leader is always right and must always be followed may be the way canines (at least wolflike canines) survive.  It is absolutely lousy advice for human groups.  So tonight I will pray  for liberation from suffering for all sentient beings and tomorrow try to remember again to practice non-forgiveness and non-food sharing with my dog.