Funny story. Driving into Durban city on a really busy Saturday - I reached the first set of robots. Seeing pedestrians and cars deluxe ahead. The traffic light turned red as I approached. And at the same time, a traffic officer stood to reinforce the stop cue. I smiled. Only in South Africa... We need double stop cues. Because, granted, there is not much respect for road rules. Not necessarily a good thing... But it did get me thinking about rules.
This is my worst rule. No dogs allowed. Makes my hackles rise whenever I see it. When I heard from my Catholic nun teacher that dogs don't go to heaven my questioning of the entire spirit system began. quite sure I don't want to spend eternity without these guys. Feel the same way about beaches and other spaces where my dogs and animals are not welcome. I fully believe that if we allowed it, and focussed instead on responsible relationships with the animals in our world, our world would be a better place. A gentler more respectful planet that we share with creatures and nature, rather than a space we think we are in charge of. A place where it appears we are becoming more and more separated from the whole.
Onto animal training and rules. Human beings love rules. This is a problem when we are working with sentient beings.
How do we enforce a way of being. Relationship is not about doing. So, yes, the theory of animal training is great. Reinforce a behaviour using positive reinforcements. Neutral responses for what you don't want. Touch dolphins on the belly. Smack puppies on the nose. Use this bit in the horses mouth for dressage... and the more we make these rules, the more we forget that the being is before us. Communicating very clearly. That dolphin is very ticklish in comparison to this one, but I just think he is ADD. The puppy keeps biting me when I try smack his nose. Maybe age old wisdom and punishment is not right for him. The horse keeps lifting his head. Yeah. You hurting his mouth...
Sentient beings. Motivation 101. To be safe. Us and them. Respect. Care. Noting their experience.
When we take time to look at each animal individually. Look at their experience, as far as possible, from their point of view. Then we begin to live in relationship. We begin to sense ourselves as part of something bigger. Not as the fixers, or saviours. We can then put down guilt and start to have fun. We can hear logic, but stop seeing the word as rules and limitations. That's when miraculous things begin to happen.
And life is fun.