How to Read This Book
This entire book is a journey, which for some people is a bit difficult to grasp in a non-fiction book which is supposed to be about Dogs; there is no section to flip to that will provide a definite answer to a specific question, and no magical solution to any problem.
Let me explain how to approach reading this book – or rather, allow me to use the evaluation I received as part of my publishing package to help explain the correlation between how this book is presented with that of how Dogs think and learn and to everything we do in life.
The italicized phrases below represent the feedback from the evaluator, followed by my reason for choosing not to incorporate the suggestions into my book.
a. You need to define the target audience.
The target audience is not a defined group – volunteers, professionals in the field, rescuers, adopters, and participants of the online course are the same people at different stages. Depending on their goals, they will be drawn to, retain, and absorb what is important to them as they read the entire book.
It is difficult to list the type of reader who will benefit from different parts of the book.
For this reason, I use the term “Upwards” because it is inclusive of all people.
Dogs, just like the target audience, are in different stages throughout the process, and these stages reflect their changing needs and goals.
b. The book should include “some hints about your approach”.
I recommend reading this book from start to finish – this book is not a training manual where one can skim information or flip to the section of interest. Much like working with Dogs, it is not recommended to focus on specific issues. This book is intentionally designed to allow the reader to learn and absorb the material “as a whole”. An open-mind, creativity and the ability to formulate and channel information are necessary when working with Dogs.
c. Rewrite the Author Introduction as less of a journey and, instead, state your credentials.
Initially the section titled “The Journey Leading to the Creation of this Book” was titled “Author Introduction”. I changed the title to more aptly describe my intent as opposed to changing the content and lay-out. I chose to present the information in this manner because the journey it covers introduces me, based on my experiences, and explains my final decision to write this book as it stands now.
My credentials are not presented in a resume fashion because I did not learn what I know from specific courses relating to dogs. Every experience taught me skills and lessons, and this is the way I approach working with Dogs.
The combination of different sessions, approaches and experiences work together to allow Dogs to learn different skills at their own pace. The journey Dogs take in their lives, their experiences, and their goals define them, and it is our responsibility to work with Dogs in the manner which suits them. We cannot narrow their behavior down to a single action, nor should we approach working with them in such a robotic manner.
d. Write either a training manual or a book with stories detailing the journey of a few dogs you rescued. Use less profanity and be less negative and sarcastic.
This book intentionally does not fall into a structured category – neither do Dogs. The dog-world and the rescue-world are not always pleasant, and because I was immersed deeply into both (professionally and on a volunteer basis) while writing this book, the tone and examples reflect my experiences.
I quote people who are not involved in the dog-world because the quotes are inspirational and truthful, and the people who spoke them have been influential in my life. Their views on life, people, and the world are ones we can learn from and incorporate into how we perceive the animal world, and how we work with Dogs. I used comparisons to human nature, children, and everyday activities, when working with Upwards; some readers will relate to these examples, others not so much.
Working with such a varied clientele everyday required me to change the way I provide information and relate to people. I used a relaxed approach with some clients, and a formal, terminology driven approach with others. This is how we should approach working with Dogs – they each have different personalities, and we need to change our approach, expectations, and teaching-style to suit them.
I am who I am. People are comfortable when people “are themselves” (even if they do not like the person), and people appreciate when other people recognize their individuality. And Dogs expect the same from people.
As with Dogs, my perceptions and my personality are a result of my experiences.
e. Use more examples.
This feedback was interesting, since I have included a shitload of examples throughout the book. The problem, I believe, was the information included in, and the goal of, the examples were misinterpreted because the evaluator was anticipating detailed training solutions. The examples are not intended to provide training solutions. The examples provide a means of explaining how Dogs view situations, describe common problems or behaviours, and/or explain why a specific technique was unsuccessful in a certain situation.
Providing solutions within the confines of this book would be a futile exercise – there are so many variables. Working with Dogs should never be a structured program relying on quick-fix solutions. To successfully work with Dogs, we need a solid foundation that allows for flexibility and adaptability in both the timeframe and the methods we use. The examples and information may appear as though they are not directly related to your situation or needs, but as you open your mind to changing the way you view working with Dogs, you will find the information helpful in unexpected ways.
And finally, the most interesting feedback I received from the publisher’s evaluator:
f. Change the title of the book – Art and Methodology do not belong together.
A skill commonly acquired through practice and experience;
Subjects of study and processes involving, and relying upon, human creativity.
A set of practices and procedures used to effectively work within a discipline;
Concepts, often guided by logic, that act as the foundation to allow for the understanding of general principles.
Synonyms – approaches and procedures; way of thinking/perception; creative implementation of a proven series of concepts.