Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tale of Zen - Duck

I love hearing other people's Zen stories (Zen treats, Zen doors, Zen friends...) so here is my own (latest) Tale of Zen.

""Zen", as we use the word in dog training, is so important as to be virtually the foundation of civilization. It means "self-control"."
Sue Ailsby - Training Levels

With the yard still a mixture of mostly mud with only the occasional tuft of green, we've moved lunchtime play indoors. Specifically, we are playing "Find the Duck!"

The rules are simple. The dogs eat their lunch, lounge around while hubby and I enjoy our lunch, wait until the Yard Duty (hubby) cleans up the yard (a hold-over from sunny days when Fetch was the order of the day), wait until I clean up the Kitchen, and then (and only then) the moment arrives.

I walk over to the sacred bookcase and withdraw the sacrificial Duck from his box, which was specially designed to keep the very loved and very wet duck from ruining said sacred bookcase between sessions.

Beau goes first (of course) and Zachary waits (semi-patiently) behind a loosely laid baby-gate until his turn. After 2-3 finds, we repeat with Zachary (Beau waiting much less patiently) and then everybody gets a cookie while the Duck retires for a much needed rest until the 'morrow.

Lately, however, this (semi) peaceful, always joyous, mid-day break has taken an ugly turn.

Enter: The Barker.

It should be understood that neither of my boys are ordinarily vocal. Zachary will bark at thumps - although he's improving - and that's about it. Beau is the epitome of silence.

Was the epitome silence.

It started with just an excited bark or two as I extracted the Duck from his sacred cubby. Over the next few days and weeks it grew into a running commentary as I walk toward the bookcase and until Sir Beau got his turn. As Beau was otherwise as quiet as mouse, and it was nice to know he really enjoyed the activity, I let it slide.

Until today.

Today, as I stood up from the table, he looked right at me, and began to bark. And bark. And bark some more.

Now Beau is a big dog. He is all dog. And when he wants to be heard, he can definitely sound off like... well, you get the idea.

And he did. Repeatedly.

"Hmmm...," I thought, "I guess I should do something about that." (ok - let's see you think deep thoughts with a field howitzer going off nearby.)

I stood there a moment or two longer (bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark...) - and then it hit me.


I needed Duck Zen.

So I just stood there and I waited.

I didn't really need to wait that long. Beau gave it few more and then quit, looking a tad perplexed.


I took a step.

Bark, bark, bark...

And I was already back to my chair.

Bark, bark?


I took a step, and another.

Bark, bark, bark...

And back to the chair I went.



Three steps. Bark. Return. Silence. Four steps. Bark. Return. Silence.

Somewhere on the 7-8th try, there was Silence. Pure silence. Silence as I walked to the bookcase. Silence as I picked up the duck. Silence as I put up the baby-gate.

I love Duck Zen.

(now if only I could figure out how to shut him up when it's Zachary's turn to "Find The Duck!")

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