Saturday, July 16, 2011

The starting point...high regard.

Sometimes people ask me how I got started feeding my dogs a raw food diet. I usually talk about how my own health issues (chemical sensitivities, toxin overload) brought me toward natural health care in general, and how the health issues in my dogs (cancer) brought me to the decision of feeding them raw food diets.

This is a path of change that is easy to communicate, but it really doesn't get to the core of what continues to inform my decisions about how to feed my dogs.

The core principle that pulls together all of my decisions on caring for my dogs is that I hold them in high regard.

I respect my dogs as dogs. I respect their intelligence that is different than mine. I respect their skills that are different than mine. I respect their emotional life that is different than mine. I respect their bodies that are different than mine. I respect them as individuals who have experiences separate from my own.

I also respect the inescapable influence I have on them, and take that responsibility seriously.

It is my responsibility to ensure that they can live well in our society. That means teaching them our culture, and how to behave in order to fit into that culture. It means providing a life that is not so restrictive that they live in a constant state of stress. It is my responsibility to carry my own emotional burdens and not visit them upon my dog.

If you cannot respect dogs and view them with high regard, you will be hindered in your attempt to care for them. You won't be willing to learn about their needs by listening to them directly and educating yourself.

If you don't respect dogs how do you expect to understand their culture and their bodies? If you look at them as “just dogs” or even “my dogs” you'll stop short.

Listen and observe. They do. Offer them back mutual regard and you will be rewarded.

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