Learn By Observing the World Around You
It’s always been of great importance for me to travel to developing countries where I gain tremendous inspiration from observing dogs living in their most natural way. To me, it’s like a dance between the essence and existence of living.
Two weeks ago, I visited Guatemala with my family. We spent the whole week in Panajachel, a town in the southwestern highlands – surrounded by the magnificent Lake Atitlan.
Many of the villages surrounding the lake are only accessible by boat. It was such great fun to wake up every morning to a boat ride across the lake, and then spend the first part of the day exploring a new village. Every day we were discovering new people, who had a distinct culture and lifestyle.
My afternoons were spent observing street dogs and free roaming dogs, and my nights were spent with the family, experiencing different kinds of street food. It was a fun, busy, and certainly fulfilling week!
Amber (one of our Play Professors and trainers) joined us a few days into our trip, and stayed for the remainder of the trip. It was great to have her accompany me while observing dogs. I believe this opportunity served her in a massive way.
Her encounter with these street dogs was so refreshing and even mind blowing in many ways… we had such great conversations about what we (Westerners) know and what we don’t know, what we believe, and what is merely untrue about dogs. And yet, what is taught, what is adopted, and what is practiced continues to deprive dogs of their essential needs, and keeps us (the dog loving people) from serving dogs in the ways they really “need” us to. Be sure to ask Amber about her trip when you see her next.
I think for Amber, what became really clear, was the “why” behind Doglando.
- Why do we exist?
- Why do we invest so heavily in our environment?
- Why do dogs need us?
- What problems does this solve?
- How does this help you, the dog parent?
Freedom From Labels
She became firm in her understanding of how we mislabel all behavior, and as a result, how we mistreat all dogs in one way or another. Captivity is a bitch! It is to all living beings. It is the cause of so much detriment: living with fear, anxiety, and becoming frustrated, aggressive, and intolerant is inevitable under harsh restrictions.
We (dogs and humans alike) are not meant to live in the lifestyles we are forcing upon ourselves. These are certainly not thriving conditions, even if it means we can survive through them.
We have so much to look forward to at Doglando and through the Canine Enrichment Academy. The world for domestic dogs is changing in the direction it was always meant to be. I hope the process isn’t a slow one, but whatever it is, we know that we are making a massive difference in the lives of both the humans and the dogs we serve! This feels good.
Teena Patel is a Certified Dog Trainer and Behavioral Counselor who works with pet owners and owners of doggy daycares to bring her philosophy of Enrichment to the canine population. After almost two decades of successful dog training under her belt, Teena has done away with the standard doggy daycare “warehousing” of animals in kennels and runs. In place of an industrial model, she focuses on what is right for the dogs as living beings, providing experiences that improve and enhance their behavioral health. Coupled with a program of careful training, the Doglando experience results in companion dogs who are better-behaved, better integrated into their families, and above all, much happier. True to her passion, Teena Patel gives dogs the freedom “to be dogs”.