Agent of Change

ELECTION DAY 2008. Election Day has arrived. I’m hopeful that the results are clear, non contested and we select the individual who can bring about change to best benefit the country as a whole and impact in good ways in the world in general — economy, security, improved standing in the world, health issues of the population and the general health and well being of this third rock from the sun we call Earth. We all know the promises the candidates pledge cannot all be realized; there is that checks and balances system we call democracy, but one promise Barack Obama made, win or lose, was to at last acquire for his beloved and cherished daughters a puppy!

I put out to Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, and to all the other parents out there who promise their children a puppy — whether it’s because they won a national election or the child’s report card was improved or they finally did achieve that last notch in the goal to achieve a dog or it was just good timing — KUDOS. But, as it takes a village to raise a child, so does it take those in the life of the dog the willingness, time, patience and knowledge base to achieve a relationship with a dog (or dogs!) whose function in the life of their people can be one of great joy, humor, love, companionship, improved health, unconditional love…the list goes on.

My three children went to the Barack Obama/Bruce Springsteen event held in downtown Cleveland, OH this past Sunday. No longer myself a big fan of really huge crowds, I got their first hand report on the event. One thing that struck me, of course relating it back to dog training, is their comment about Barack Obama’s daughters being up on stage with their parents and The Boss! My youngest daughter, 9, articulated to me that she thought they were very brave to be up on that stage in front of so many many people (I would have to agree with that!). I thought about the anomaly of Malia (also 9) and Sasha’s socialization during this long campaign of their father’s in which standing up in front of thousands has become a regular experience. One which certainly has had positive reinforcement for these young girls to be so poised and graceful.

So too must a First Pup be exposed to and socialized to all the events that are routine for his/her future family. The pup will need to learn how to handle himself gracefully and show the country, the world, how a well trained pup can be a boon to a family.

My dogs ages are now 5, 7 and very nearly 9.

They are well past their puppy and adolescent behaviors of oppositional/defiant behaviors, chewing, lacking in internalized self control. They’re by no means perfect, and each has a distinct personality with qualities that I find both endearing and annoying. But deep down my dogs and I have an abiding trust. They follow me in a comforting, not annoying way. They join me on adventures no others would be available for or interested in, they adjust to changes in routine with little issue, and they definitely bring me more joy and comfort and humor than distress or frustration.

So Barack and Michelle, as you settle into the new life that this post election time frame will bring, spend time with your family and come up with a fantasy wish list of the dog that will help complete the scene for now! Trust me, it will help you greatly when adolescence in your daughters kicks in! And if you need help with any aspect, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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