Why does a dog chew what it chews?
If I come home and find that something in the house is destroyed I thought it meant that the dogs needed to get out more. It never occurred to me to wonder what made them decide WHAT to chew.
My hamiltonstovare Jack, quite often chomps on books and pens. One day I watched him in action and learnt something in the process.
I was standing by a bookshelf in the house and noticed Jack carefully sniffing along the spines of the books. He seemed to be sniffing each one in turn. Then he selected one of the books and started to pull it off the shelf. I gently intervened, to put the book out of reach, before he started to get his teeth into it. He continued sniffing. He stopped at a second book and once again tried to pull it off the shelf. He continued his search, stopping at a third book. He moved along to another shelf of books, sniffed along the full length, before giving up, unable to find anything else of interest.
What did it mean?
I shared the experience with Natural Dog Training followers and Lee Charles Kelly offered that 'our dogs tend to chew the things that we are ambivalent towards'.
I checked out the meaning of 'ambivalent' :
Ambivalence is a state of having simultaneous, conflicting feelings toward a person or thing. Stated another way, ambivalence is the experience of having thoughts and/or emotions of both positive and negative valence toward someone or something. A common example of ambivalence is the feeling of both love and hate for a person. The term also refers to situations where "mixed feelings" of a more general sort are experienced, or where a person experiences uncertainty or indecisiveness concerning something. The expressions "cold feet" and "sitting on the fence" are often used to describe the feeling of ambivalence.
Ambivalence is experienced as psychologically unpleasant when the positive and negative aspects of a subject are both present in a person's mind at the same time. This state can lead to avoidance or procrastination, or to deliberate attempts to resolve the ambivalence. When the situation does not require a decision to be made, people experience less discomfort even when feeling ambivalent.
Pasted from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambivalence>
What I learnt
I looked back at the books that Jack had selected. A couple on gardening and one on creative knitting - all hobbies that I had picked up and was frustrated at not having more time to be really good at. I decided to pick out a selection if books that had been 'attacked' by Jack previously.
'Hearts Minds and Paws' - a lovely book written by Nina Bodorenko whose workshop I had attended the previous year. Her workshop was inspiring, describing her work in teaching service dogs and touching on her experiences with the amazing emotional links we have with our dogs. Her book shares some of the stories and also her own drawings of dogs. When I read the book I had loved it, but have also to confess to being a bit jealous, as that would have been something I would love to have created (mixed emotion of 'love' and 'hate').
'Glorious Inspiration' - by Kaffe Fassett - a book of beautiful imagery designed to whet the appetites of creative knitters and embroiders, reminding of the creativity I used to enjoy when I was much younger and now too busy to enjoy.
'An Introduction to Working Trials' - something I had dabbled in with Jack and had given up on after the embarrassment of a scenting trial where I was disqualified, due to my poor reading of my dog 🙁
'Astrology - an illustrated guide' - reading this book had filled me with wonder but, once again, I found myself thinking I don't have enough time to understand as fully as I would like (interest and frustration)
'Aurajin - Recognising Spirit it Matter' - by Carol Klesow - A fascinating subject but when I had read this book previously I had just not understood it.
So, just as my Natural Dog Training friend had explained, my dog was chewing the things that I was 'ambivalent towards'.
In fact all the books that had been selected were of things I would like to take more time for and learn more about.
I found the insight that Jack has given me extremely helpful . My hamiltonstovare helped me identify areas which are worth exploring more. For example, I went back to the 'Aurajin' book and giving it more time I found it really interesting - combining meanings of numerology, Jin Shin Jyutsu (JSJ) points and colour. I later went on to learn more about self-healing with JSJ, as well as learning about using it for our animal companions. Everything for a reason!
So next time you come home and you find that your dog has chewed something in your absence, take a moment and consider what your 'best friend' is telling you about yourself. I am sure you will find the learning priceless !