Thursday, October 16, 2014

Say Less


     Agility class on a cool April morning.  Ruby, a smart and focused Jack Russell Terrier, hears her person say, "Walk," trots up the Dog Walk and starts carefully across, a tiny canine gymnast on a balance beam.  Her human jogs beside her saying encouraging little things in a sweet Texas accent, Ruby glancing her way each time she speaks.
     "You don't need to talk to her as she goes across," the teacher comments when Ruby is safely down.
     "Really?" Ruby's person says, adding a few syllables to what you may think of as "really."
     "Every time you say something Ruby's looking at you and thinking 'Is this important?'  You gave the command and she was carrying it out, so any new conversation is causing her to kind of recalibrate and it can be very distracting.  In general we need to say less to our dogs."
     This same teacher has to remind me almost every class that I should say Ivy's name less, that I'm sucking the meaning from it by over-use.  I try but often fail to resist spewing sweet nothings to Ivy Ivy Ivy as she climbs the teeter or races up the A-frame.  Slow learner, me.
     Say less.
     Is this important?
     If I edit the non-important stuff out of my general conversation, here's roughly what's left:
     I love you.
     I love you, too.
     Dinner's ready, guys!
     Could one of you go let the chickens out?
     Thank you.
     Ivy, stay.
     Good girl.
     Are you hungry?
     Where's your other shoe?
     I miss you.
     No.
     Good boy!
     Leave it.
     Are you thirsty?
     Great game, kid.
     Yes.
     It's raining.
     Want me to read to you?
     Let's sit on the porch.
     Good night; have sweet dreams.
     You're a good dog.  You're a good dog, too.
        P.S. Want to laugh and cry and feel more literate while never leaving your laptop?  Read some blogs over at yeah write and vote for your faves on Thursday.

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