In Defense of Ruthie

 Laurie recently posted a video of Ruthie's antics during meal prep, and Laurie's patient strategies for addressing said behavior; some of you watched that video, I am sure.

In the video, George is patiently waiting while Ruthie alternatively leaps and sits, jumps on the counter and sits, jumps up on Laurie - and sits. She is trying SO hard. When the bowl is put down, Ruthie sits perfectly until released. It is an impressive video, to be sure.

But while the video is informative from a training perspective and told me that Ruthie is with the exact perfect person for her, I was most struck by the comments of people about that video. Many found Ruthie's behavior amusing, and/or suggested it showed clear signs of positive things -- energy, working ability, intelligence.  Others were not at all impressed. One labeled Ruthie as a "spaz" and some suggested they would not put up with such behavior.


Consider that the same video generated very different responses -- why is that? 

Because the event (Ruthie's Adventures in Meal Prep) is not actually generating the responses -- the humans are generating the responses. Unthinking and automatic, our reactions and responses speak about the prisms and filters that shape how we see the world.

Our responses tell others about our Inside Self, and they give clues about how we are likely to handle future similar situations. 

And maybe most important -- our reactions and responses invite us to slow the mental train down, and consider what shapes our perspective on the external environment, including something as simple as the wild actics of a puppy at mealtime.

I watched that video and was impressed -- that a puppy could leap so high. That she was trying SO hard. And that she was so often successful. I saw progress and potential in that video.

In other words, my prisms and filters tend to focus on what is good and positive and promising. I seem to lack that whole  "she is trying to get away with something" filter set, and I am glad about that; constant vigilance that a dog the world is out to get you sounds sad and exhausting.

We all have unfortunate days and should not be judged on a single event or comment. But I confess to thinking that reactions to Ruthie's video would be an excellent way to screen potential puppy homes. 

Dogs (and children) deserve to be in homes where all that is promising and wonderful and magical about them is what is seen first and foremost. And adults deserve to have all the joy and happiness that comes when you see a world of promise and potential and wonder.

How you see the world is a choice. Choose well, for everyone's sake -- including yours.



by Dayna on Wed, 11/08/2017 - 14:35

Mary Ann, it was me that wrote the word "spaz", but I believe that Lori knows me enough to know that was not intended as negative. Quite frankly, I always pick the spaz puppy in my litters. I also know that Lori was recovering from an injury for several months during Ruthie's formidable puppy-hood, and that presented delays in her training. I *know* what she is dealing with and my comment was acknowledgement of the challenge in front of her, and advice on how I would handle it, and take a big step back with Ruthie, (back to her crate) and reboot her dining habits. It was not intended as name calling. It is clear that Lori is on it and Ruthie will be a well mannered kitchen dog before we know it, especially with George as her mentor! :-)

by CA Heidi :-) on Wed, 11/08/2017 - 15:09

I really liked the video. I too was impressed that Ruthie could jump so high! Wow! And also that she kept trying to offer the desired behavior, even when it was oh-so-hard to do. She will get there. Lori is obviously SO patient, and Ruthie is obviously SO smart, and that is a proven combination for success.

Would I love that behavior? Yes, actually, I think I would. Nothing scares me more than a Berner that won't eat, and seeing this sweet girl literally jump for joy because it's dinner time warms my heart. And I see her high-flying grandma in her leaps, and that is a different fact that is warmth in my heart, too. It may be in how I am framing it, but every minute with these dogs is so precious; I don't want to waste a single one.



by Debbie Conover on Wed, 11/08/2017 - 15:15

Mary Anne
I posted s comment in response to Lori’s video.
I think your idea for breeders to use this video for potential new Berner puppies buyers is BRILLANT!!!

by Helen Hollander... on Wed, 11/08/2017 - 15:35

Mary Anne ~ great blog. As you know, I am a dear, close friend of Lori. Kismet and Ruthie attend handling classes weekly and are good friends. I loved your blog. And, I have to agree across the board, Ruthie is in the right home with the right human! Lori and I go back, way back to when she had her first "ruthless" Berner girl. This was Lori's first Berner and Lori was one of my first "in home" training clients. OY! Lori often comments that if it hadn't been for me she probably would never have another Berner. Wrong!!!! It was not me who trained Mallie....I went to "teach Lori" what to do. IT WAS LORI who was an astute student and a fabulous trainer mom. Patience is Lori's forte. I KNOW Ruthie. She is fabulous in class. She is attentive and thirsty to learn and she performs incredibly. She has tons of energy yes, but the operative word here is that Lori "knows how to channel" this energy in the right direction. I laughed at the video at first. WHY? Because I have not seen this side of Ruthie. However, that is not to say she will re-direct Ruthie's energy and frustration into a positive doubt. Most of all, I love, love that there is no "barking back" at Ruthie. That, as you know accomplishes nothing. What I do LOVE is that Lori stops and waits for Ruthie "to offer" an appropriate behavior. Those in the know understand dogs learn most quickly when they are rewarded for an acceptable behavior that "THEY CHOOSE" to exhibit. Well done Lori! I can't wait to see the follow up video of Ruthless Ruthie...brain child, insatiable hunger to learn ( and eat too!) GO GIRLS....You two, as a team, ROCK!

by Tina on Wed, 11/08/2017 - 15:51

I loved the video! I can't tell you how many times Tag knocked the food bowl didn't put off my hands before we mastered waiting without jumping, lol. Ruthie had the makings of an awesome agility dog. Or any other job a working dog can do. Love that feisty, happy personality!! It made me laugh out loud to see her bounce!

by Tina on Wed, 11/08/2017 - 15:58

Out of. He knocked the dish out of my hands. Food everywhere! Gotta love autocorrect, lol.

by Deborah on Wed, 11/08/2017 - 17:04

I *loved* seeing that spunk in Ruthie. It is great to have energy to channel. It's so much harder to get a low-energy dog to be enthusiastic. You know you can drive a Porsche at 35 mph, but you can't drive a Prius at 110. :)

The other thing I think about when I have a spunky furry kid is that there will be some day down the road when I would be willing to give anything to get some of that spunk back.

Spunk on, Ruthie and Lori!

by Kathy L on Thu, 11/09/2017 - 07:16

I loved the video!!! Ruthie’s energy is amazing and she is trying so hard. Having her brother Zimmer, I recognize some real familiar traits. I think because they have grown to an adult size, we forget that they are only ten months old and still babies really. I am continually reminding myself of this fact since poor Zimmer also has a Kaibab big sister who is perfect. These wonderful puppy days will be gone in a flash. Zimmer certainly reminds me every day that patience and a sense of humor are my best friends. Love these Sparklers!!! They have personality plus.

by Lori S. on Thu, 11/09/2017 - 09:37

Yeah, Kathy, those iPups are a tough act to follow. As close to perfect as any dog could be. However the Sparklers are perfect in their own way, not quite as obvious but still perfect.

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