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I love dogs. Seeing them, their enthusiasm and ability to live in the moment, fills me with joy. It is not always easy caring for them, they can be challenging, but one that thing I do know, is that dogs are totally honest and can only be themselves. I found myself reflecting on these challenges as I thought back to a presentation by Kim Brophy, last year, at the Aggression in Dogs conference. In her writings and presentations, Brophy highlights a critical tension that exists in our relationship with dogs: the gap between our expectations of them and their true nature. This insight resonates deeply with our mission here at A Walk in the Park.

A dog is like a 3 year old child, not able to perceive complex emotions like pride, guilt, shame or contempt. Yes, that is right, they do not understand guilt. They live in a world far removed from those human complexities. Yet, we often impose human-like expectations on them, expecting them to navigate our world with the same understanding we have. This mismatch can place our dogs in a difficult position, leading to anxiety and behavior issues that manifest in various forms, such as excessive barking or aggression.

In his book ‘ Start With Why’, Simon Sanek writes that discovering the ‘why’ of doing what we do, gives us a direction and mission. There is a deeper reason why we show up everyday, there is something that inspires us and gives meaning to what we do. Working with dogs is not just a job for me; it's a way of exploring and understanding the deeper reasons behind our actions and the nature of the world we share with our canine friends. It's about learning, growing, and constantly seeking ways to bridge the gap between human expectations and canine reality.

At A Walk in the Park, our approach is rooted in this understanding. We strive to create environments that allow dogs to express themselves authentically, without the burden of unmet human expectations. Through play, activities, and training games, we aim to alleviate their anxiety, helping them to thrive in a way that respects their true nature.

While we may not always achieve immediate success, our commitment to continuous learning and adaptation keeps us moving forward. We believe in enhancing the lives of our dogs by understanding them better and finding ways to coexist more harmoniously, even within the inevitable limitations of our different worlds.

We hope you will join us on this journey, and learn and grow yourself. Maybe you can acquire new insights as well, view dogs differently and cast aside some old assumptions. If so, we want to thank you for that, and for sharing our dedication to the well-being and happiness of our four-legged friends. After all, dogs cannot change who they are, but we can change our perceptions. Together, we are not just caring for dogs; we are learning from them and growing alongside them.

Warm regards,

Dirk and the Team at A Walk in the Park

Dirk Broersma
https://awalkintheparkoftoledo.com