Posted on November 8th, 2013 by Bruno Goffin in Newsletter
Recently I received a letter from Andrea in Belgium who wrote to me because a friend had told her
…how amazingly good you are with dogs…
I know that people are saying that about me and I accept it. But since I received the message from Andrea I kept on asking myself what had happened in my life that enabled me to become “amazingly good with dogs”.
Today I think I have found it and I want to explain what I discovered about dogs, about humans and most of all about myself.
Let me first state that when my wife Béatrice decided to have our first dog, I was not even interested. But as soon as our first beautiful Labrador arrived I was hooked. Nevertheless it took me a decade to start discovering the real importance of dogs in my life. It was nothing less than a revolution brought about by my marriage to Eva Schoenfeld, living with dogs, and becoming a member of the ManKindProject and a student of martial arts.
Let me tell you in a few words what I discovered.
Our first dog had to suffer from my lack of understanding her. I was taught to use a choke chain and to use it violently. As I did not have a clue about what the dog was telling me I only copied what the well meaning amateur-instructors of the “dog training club” showed me. What changed my approach completely was not a series of workshops, not attending lots of courses or reading many books about dog training. No! What changed my overall approach to life was what I learned about myself.
My eyes started opening only after my initiation as a “New Warrior” in the ManKindProject. Soon after my initiation in Magaliesburg (South Africa) I started doing men’s work in men’s circles. This work enabled me to very slowly discover that I was not alone with my fears, my unanswered questions and my feelings of uncertainty.
I will now summarize what I learned during my work in the circles of men.
First I learned how to accept the existence of my shadow. For us New Warriors our shadow is “everything we hide, repress and negate as a man”.
To give you an example, if I see myself as a warrior, then I also accept that my shadow is the coward in me.
The Second important result of my work in the circles of men is that I learned to accept the existence of my fears. Most of all I have accepted that within me there is always the fear of failure, the fear of poverty, the fear of abandonment and the fear of not being good enough. These fears are always present.
But the more I observe and accept the presence of these fears in me, the less they control me. On the contrary, I can now speak and write openly about these fears in the same manner as I can be open about the presence of my shadow.
Thirdly, because of the fact that I accept the existence of my shadow and the presence of my fears I do not need to use my social mask anymore.
In my case the social mask I used was the mask of the arrogant, successful businessman and I had been using it for the major part of my life. Hiding behind that social mask was a young child who wanted to please everyone by being a good boy. Carl Gustav Jung has written extensively about our shadow and our mask.
The Fourth important result of my work in the circles of men was to accept that, as a man, I have feelings. I do not only accept that I have feelings. I also know that I am allowed to identify and to show them without shame. Accepting the importance of feelings in my life enables me to listen to my gut feeling whenever I make decisions.Trusting my own feelings produces confidence and calm assertive energy. It is exactly the calm assertive energy that is needed in our non-verbal communication with dogs (and horses).
The more I could observe and accept the existence of my shadow, the presence of my fears, the use of my social mask, the more I started noticing the same symptoms in the body language of other humans.
It is obvious that the more we use a social mask and the more we pretend, the less we are real and authentic human beings. Dogs notice this immediately.
Because being real and authentic is exactly what dogs are. They never pretend. They do not have a social mask. They never lie and are always clear in their communication. Today it is my conviction that whoever wants to live with dogs has the obligation to learn how to understand them correctly. Unfortunately it is quite impossible to clearly understand dogs if we do not understand ourselves. How can we for instance correctly understand sentient beings who never pretend, when we are pretending all the time?
Living with dogs and doing my work in men’s circles allowed me to observe my own behaviour around them.
The more I got to know about myself, the better the communication became between me and my dogs, but also between me and other humans.
As I had (and still have) the opportunity to observe the behaviour of hundreds of dog loving people it dawned upon me that most of the “problems” between humans and dogs were (are) not caused by the “bad” dogs but by the unnatural behaviour of the humans. According to me we are living lives that are disconnected from nature. It means that we are disconnected from ourselves, from our fellow human beings, from animals and from the universe. We are living unconsciously. We can feel the emptiness this has created inside and we unsuccessfully try to fill that emptiness with “entertainment”.
My remedy for the “problems” between dogs and humans is not that I teach my clients how to train their dogs. No!. My remedy is to teach them how to change their behaviour. For that reason I closed my three dog training schools and stopped with what is called “dog training”.
Teaching human beings how to change their behaviour is of course much more difficult than training a dog. But it is also very satisfying.
Why is it so difficult to change our behaviour?
According to my own experience it is so difficult because most of us go into denial when somebody advises us to do something about our behaviour.
Let me give you an example.
I remember quite well how, each time my ex-wife Eva (bless her) made a remark about my behaviour I immediately went into denial. I always experienced what she said as a personal attack. Unconsciously I switched on my resistance, closed up like an oister and tried to forget what she had just said.
Today I know how well meaning she was and how she wanted to help me.
But I can also see that I was not ready to accept what she told me. Each time I went into denial and closed my eyes, my heart and my ears to her.
Today it is remarkable for me to realize how easy it is to accept what I experience in men’s circles, remembering that I denied it when Eva spoke about exactly the same things years ago. The price I had to pay for my denial and my resistance was my divorce from Eva.
Besides my work in circles of men, there is something else that helped me tremendously in getting to know myself. And of course it also helps me in my work with dogs and their carers.
It is my work as a student and an instructor of martial arts.
Let me explain.
First of all the practice of martial arts has nothing to do with sports.
Today sports is a global industry tainted by lots of money, corruption, hooligans, criminals, violence and drugs. Sportsmen and -women are the modern gladiators playing their part on the tv screens for the unconscious masses who want to be entertained.
As a practioner of martial arts I am not a sportsman but an artist and my first target is to transform my body into a work of art. But my ultimate goal is to transform my life into a work of art.
This is the example I am living for my companions and my pupils in the dojo.
Learning and teaching martial arts is very similar to learning and teaching how to behave correctly with dogs. It is very similar because both activities are based upon first, the oral transmission of information and second, upon following the example given by the teacher.
It is completely different from what I learned at school and at the university.
At the university we had professors who were (according to me) the most horrible and inadequate teachers. The way they behaved and spoke was something I never wanted to copy. But these (according to me) very akward and emotionally immature men had…written many books.
It were these books we had to study and to memorise. Looking back at my time as a student I see myself as a young and inexperienced parrot who replicated and reproduced what the professors had written. A good parrot got good notes and in the end an academic title. But during all the years I was a student I did not learn anything about real life and myself.
I had to wait for another 40 years before I could start discovering myself.
When I enter the home of clients for the first time they often say:”Oh, we have never seen our dogs behave like this!”
My standard answer is:”Yes, I know, their behaviour is different because I am here and they can feel my energy.” This calm ascertive energy I feel around dogs is the result of my work in men’s circles and my practice of martial arts. It is NOT the result of attending many courses in dog training.
I remember the two Greek words “gnoti seauton” from the Greek lessons in the ateneum.
I knew it signified “know yourself” but I did not understand what that was supposed to be.
Today I know that as soon as I know myself, it is impossible to have problems with my dogs, with my fellow human beings and of course…..with myself.
Thank you Andrea for inspiring me.
Love and blessings from Bruno
Posted on September 3rd, 2013 by Bruno Goffin in Newsletter
Ten years ago, it was on a Monday evening, I got a phone call from a Dutch lady.
- “Am I speaking with Bruno?”
- “Yes you are,” I said.
- “I have a Labrador who attacks everyone and every dog. People advised me to have him put to sleep. Before I do that I am looking for someone who would be willing to adopt him. Can I come and show him to you?”
- “Yes you can. Please come right away,” I answered.
When she arrived the lady could barely control a pulling and barking “monster” standing on his hind legs at the end of a tense leash. I handed her one of my leashes with a half-check collar and asked to switch it with the leash she was using on her dog. Taking my leash from her I witnessed the most amazing transformation of a “monster” into a dog who responded to everything I asked him to do. Immediately I told the lady I was more than willing to adopt the beautiful Labrador…. if my other dogs agreed to adopt him too. Taking him inside our compound I asked my wife Eva to take our other two dogs to the very end of our training grounds. On my signal we both took off the leashes, our two dogs approached the Labby and immediately they all started to “play”. Everything was more than ok for them.
Whereupon I told the lady her dog could stay.
“Can I say goodbye to him ?”, she asked.
I explained to her the best thing she could do was to send me the papers of the dog and leave without having another look at him.
That is exactly what she did.
My wife Eva baptized our new Labby “Baerli” what is the Swiss-German word for “small bear” or “Beerke” in Flemish and “Osito” in Spanish.
Observing every move of our new dog it became quite clear to me how he reminded me of my father.
The way he ate, drank, slept, breathed, walked, jumped, looked, ran, sat, lied down, stood, barked, always brought back memories of my father who had died in 1978.
Eight months after his adoption Baerli, who had been destined to be put to sleep, became champion in an agility competition in Alicante.
Later on he would obtain another four titles in agility, beating the Border Collier opposition during other competitions all over Spain.
Unfortunately he was then infected by the sand fly and I had to retire him from competition. The Leishmaniosis illness attacked his joints what prevented him from jumping.
But we kept on living and working together as a real team. I always felt good to have him with me and he always wanted to accompany me. His former owner had described him as a dog who attacked everyone but with me he was a most stable dog. Many, many times I took him along when working with clients and their dogs.
One day my wife had a session with a tarot lady. After the session she was so enchanted that she prompted me to go and see the same lady for a session.
I was not surprised when this tarot lady told me how my father was contacting me with the help of my Labby. I confirmed it and said that I knew that already.
The years went by and Baerli’s walks became shorter and shorter as he was suffering from arthritis.
When it became impossible for him to walk I took him along to the vet in order to have him sent to the eternal hunting fields.
I was not afraid to show my tears to the vet. Although we have known each other for years he hugged me for the first time.
Having buried my dog in a clean white sheet, I put a big bunch of wild flowers on his grave.
These flowers are called “Mil Amores” in Spanish.
The English translation of the Spanish name is “A Thousand Loves”.
I am very grateful for everything Baerli/Beerke has given me.
He gave me A Thousand Loves.
With love and blessings from Brunothedoglistener
Posted on July 12th, 2013 by Bruno Goffin in Newsletter
Dearest female friends, customers and pupils,
I dedicate this article to you.
I dedicate it to all of you who told me terrible things like “I am useless”, or “I am good for nothing”.
When you called me you said that your dog needed training. This was, according to me, not the correct diagnosis of the problems you had with your dog. Most of you, dear female friends, customers and pupils, did not know that the solution to the problems you have with your dog(s) can be found inside yourself.
The problems were linked to the way you feel, the way you think and the way you behave. Many times it was linked to low self esteem. I explained to you that your dog can read this in your body language. Therefore (s)he does not respect you and does not pay attention to you. Training your dog cannot change that situation.
However, the good news is that you can change the feeling of low self esteem into a feeling of self-confidence. And thanks to your dog I can help you discovering that feeling of self confidence.
Reading the magnificent book “Confusius from the Heart” by Yu Dan, I found a poignant story on page 40.
I am offering you this beautiful story about a young Chinese girl. Read it and maybe it can help you change the way you think and feel about yourself. If you can change your ideas and your feelings it will have a positive influence on the way you behave with your pet.
“In a small town there lived a very poor girl. She had lost her father, and she and her mother depended on each other for everything, scraping a meagre living from handicrafts. She suffered from terrible feelings of inferiority, because she had never had any pretty clothes or trinkets to wear.
On the Christmas when she was eighteen, her mother did something she had never done before and gave her a purse of money, telling her to buy herself a present.
Such a treat was far beyond her wildest dreams, but she still lacked the courage to stroll naturally along. As she walked towards the shops, the purse clutched in her hand, she went out of her way to avoid the crowds, and stuck close to the walls.
On the way there she saw that all the people had better lives than her, and lamented to herself: “I can’t hold my head up here, I’m the shabbiest girl in this town.”
When she saw the young man she secretly admired more than any other, she wondered mournfully who his partner would be at the big dance to be held that night.
And so, creeping along and avoiding other people all the way, she reached the shop.
As soon as she was inside, something caught her eye: a display of extremely pretty hair decorations.
While she was standing there in a daze, the shop assistant said to her: “What lovely flaxen hair you have! Try a pale green flower to go with it, you’ll look just beautiful”. She saw the price tag. It would have cost almost all her money and she said: “I can’t afford it, don’t bother.” But by then the shop assistant had already fastened that ornament to her hair.
He brought a mirror and held it up to the girl. When she saw herself in the mirror, she was amazed. She had never seen herself like this, her face glowing with health and beauty; she felt as if the flower had transformed her into an angel! Without a moment’s hesitation, she got out her money and bought it. Giddy with excitement in a way she had never felt before, she took her change, turned around and rushed outside, colliding with an old man who had just come in through the door. She thought that she heard him call out to her, but she was past worrying about all that, and hurtled out, her feet barely touching the ground.
Before she realized what she was doing, she had run all the way to the main street of the town. She saw that everyone was casting surprised glances in her direction, and she heard them discussing her, saying: “I never knew there was such a pretty girl in this town. Whose daughter is he?” She met the boy she secretly liked again, and to her surprise he called out to her to stop, saying: “Would you do me the honour of being my partner at the Christmas dance?”
The girl was wild with joy! She thought, I’ll be extravagant for once – I’ll go back and get myself a little something with the change. And with that she flew elatedly back to the shop.
As soon as she came through the door, that old man said to her with a smile: “I knew you’d be back! Just now when you bumped into me, your flower fell off. I’ve been waiting all this time for you to come back for it.”
This is where the story ends.
The pretty green flower had not made the difference in her behaviour.
It was her new self-confidence that made all the difference.
Posted on May 31st, 2013 by Bruno Goffin in Newsletter
Whenever someone calls me for help or sends me a message asking for advice, I will send out the following answer.
Allow me to give you some more information about my work.
In 2005 I stopped with what is called “dog training classes” , having discovered that creating a harmonious interaction between dogs and humans has nothing to do with dog training.
The way I started working from then onwards goes as follows.
1. It is my opinion that if a human being decides to adopt a dog, the first thing the human being has to learn is how to communicate correctly with the dog.
Communication with a dog runs along the lines of energy, behaviour and body language.
Dogs do NOT speak English or any other verbal language.
Dogs are certainly not human beings with four legs. Dogs are animals. Dogs are predators. Dogs are scavengers. Dogs are used to live in a pack where there is a pack leader. According to me it is cruel to treat dogs as if they are human beings.
2. As soon as the human has learned how to communicate correctly with the dog, we can start with the education of the dog. What we are aiming at is that we educate the dog in such a way that (s)he is respecting the human as her/his pack leader. In order to achieve that, the human has to learn how to behave like a canine pack leader. This has most of all to do with humans learning how to act with calm assertive energy and how to offer guidance and leadership. No nervous wreck who only wants to spoil the dog is able to act like a pack leader. No pack leader offers needy love.
3. As soon as the dog respects the human as pack leader and pays attention when the human asks for attention, then and only then, can we start with whatever training you want. This can be man work, tracking, flyball, agility, you name it.
The result of all this is that the human learns how to live consciously with a canine.
This higher level of personal consciousness easily spreads into the daily life of the human and all those around her/him.
This is a beautiful and very rewarding result.
A result that is quite different from the opinion we had in the past about “dog training”. It was assumed that the human did nothing wrong and that the “bad” dog had to be trained in order to become a “good” dog. That is not true.
More than 90 percent of the people who came to my dog training schools, had problems with their dogs.
I could never offer them the solution for the problems they had themselves (according to me) created for their dogs.
I came to conclusion that I could only help my clients on a one-to-one basis, teaching them what to do and how to act in their homes.
I was making less money than before but I found a much greater degree of satisfaction in my work.
That is how I have been working since then.
This can lead to very rewarding results both for humans and for canines, BUT ONLY IF the human is willing to learn, willing to leave her/his comfort zone and willing to discover a new kind of consciousness. If the human is not willing to take those steps I will unfortunately not be able to help her/him.
How long does it take before we see results?
Sometimes a couple of sessions with me, but sometimes it takes more than a year, depending on the client’s willingness to learn, to leave her/his comfort zone and start discovering new territories.
If you want to make an appointment just call.
In the mean time I invite you to visit my website and my blog.
Kindest regards from Bruno
Posted on May 9th, 2013 by Bruno Goffin in Newsletter
Working with dogs and their handlers has changed my life radically.
Each time I can help pupils and customers, it gives me a lot of satisfaction to notice the changes in their behaviour, their energy and body language.
For that reason I consider each dog and each handler to be a teacher for me because I keep learning from each and everyone of them.
Although I have been doing this for more than 20 years I still love doing one-to-ones and I also love my Sunday morning dog walking classes.
More than a decade ago my ex-wife Eva Schoenfeld decided to become a tissue salts practitioner. In the mean time she has built an enormous network of tissue salts consultants in Southern Africa and Asia. Many doctors and vets are her customers and learn how to use the tissue salts and also how to read the signs in the human faces in what is the “Academy for Tissue Salts and Facial Analysis” (www.atifa.co.za). Eva Schoenfeld has published a book in German about “Schuessler Salze und mein Hund”(Tissue Salts and my dog) and another book in English called “Second Chance”.
Thanks to Eva’s help I have been able to assist very allergic dogs to get better.
This time it was my privilege to not only be able to help an allergic dog but at the same time his handler.
Leo had been suffering from an overall allergic reaction for almost 3 years. He was continually scratching and biting himself, in spite of the expensive medication and food he was given. Was he getting better with this medication and food?
No, he was getting worse. Leo was suffering and his owners too.
When his lady owner read my article about an allergic dog, she called me.
We started the treatment of the dog (and the lady) only 3 weeks ago and underneath you can read the message I received from a very happy Daphne.
Sunday 5th May 2013.
Well, Leo is a lot better at the moment, only the occasional biting and scratching. He is still on his pills for the moment which you said was O.K. He has to go to the vets again on the 9th of this month for a check up. However, I think his homeopathic treatment is working and, hopefully, so is mine. He is a different dog now and seems to be very happy. W hat a relief. His hair is growing back rapidly now and he is beginning to look handsome again. I think, according to my daughter , that my hair is growing back again as well. Can´t tell you how relieved we are, I think you have worked a miracle Bruno, what expertise you have. I know its early days yet with the tissue salts but I have complete faith in it, which helps enormously.. Gave Leo bath yesterday with tea tree oil so he smells delightful and his coat shines in the sun.
So grateful to you for your help, you have a wealth of knowledge. Hopefully other people who have the same problem,as Leo and myself will seek your help. Thank you.
Love Daphne. xxx
It is impossible for a vet to know everything about every illness or dis-ease.
I accept that.
This time I visited the vet who had been treating Leo for years on end, without any positive result. I told him that Leo was better having taken Tissue Salts for three weeks. The vet was more than interested, and you know why? Because his brother, who helps him in the clinic, has a dog who is suffering from an allergy and both brothers are unable to help the dog. Maybe I can help the dog…with Eva’s help.
Kindest regards from Bruno
Posted on April 25th, 2013 by Bruno Goffin in Newsletter
Having received a message from my brother Russel Meyer about the way his father behaved with his dog, I cannot resist publishing it on my website.
I have been a fan of Cesar Milan and yourself for some time. Your advice on living with dogs is really useful to me, and I enjoy reading your mails.
While feeding my dogs a few days ago, I was struck by how much I had learned from my dad, and how wise he has been in living in harmony with his dog. I don’t hold up my dad as the ideal dog owner, and some of his practices may not be the ideal way to raise a dog. However, I can tell you lots about how he lived in harmony with his dog. I would like to share this with you:
My fathers dog was named Chaka, named after a fierce Zulu king. He was a thorough-bred Alsatian (German Shepherd), which came into our family just after I was born. My father says my brother and I played very roughly with Chaka – we pulled his tail, rode on him as if he was horse, and he endured all with stoic calm. He was so protective of us that when my dad needed to spank us he had to lock Chaka away, or else he would continually push my dad away. But, there were several occasions when he protected us from burglars, when was very, very fierce.
My dad had a few rules that were never broken:
1. He never allowed Chaka into the house, unless he called him, and then never in the bedrooms and never on couches or chairs. He always said: “a dog’s place is outside the house”
2. He always said (and still does): “I trust my own dog and another dead dog”, so he would never touch or pet another dog, even when invited
3. He never encouraged anyone to touch Chaka -if they did he always said: “you take your chances when you do that; he wont harm you while I am here, but if you do that when I am not here, watch out”. Few people ever touched Chaka, none did so after he growled at them
4. Whenever my dad walked Chaka, it was without a leash. And I never once heard my dad shout at Chaka – he didn’t have to, Chaka stayed at his left leg throughout the walk
5. We grew up poor so we couldn’t afford the best dog food. We bought what we could afford – and my dad’s daily ritual was too rinse out all the pots and pour the gravy and food bits over the dry food. I don’t know how healthy that was, but Chaka had a beautiful coat and he lived a long, healthy life.
At the age of 14yrs Chaka had arthritis and was suffering badly. A vet suggested we put Chaka down to end his suffering. My dad could not get himself to do it, until one day Chaka could not even get up anymore. He just laid and wagged his tail.
My dad never owned a dog again – he said, “I have already had the best dog anyone could ever ask for”. I think they were best example of canine / human friendship I have ever seen. And I try to practice what I have learnt from my dad.
He may not have known the best way to care for a dog, but it was enough.
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Tullow South Africa (Pty) Ltd
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Posted on March 23rd, 2013 by Bruno Goffin in Newsletter
Helping what some people call “allergic dogs” has often given me a lot of satisfaction. According to me these dogs are not allergic. Many times the food they are being offered is making them ill.
What I do with so-called “allergic” dogs is simple: I replace the cheap S.H.I.T. chemical dog-”food” my clients buy in a supermarket with quality natural food and add a combination of Natural Tissue Salts to it. Chances are that a few months later the dog isn’t allergic anymore and my clients can stop spending vast sums of money on visits to the vet and on chemical products like antibiotics.
Recently I read the following in a local magazine that is being distributed on the Marina Alta in Spain (Different Magazine issue 64).
“Hydrolyzed protein is commonly recommended by traditional vets for feeding allergic dogs. These diets are supposed to be an alternative to novel protein diets, but I do not recommend them for a number of reasons.
Hydrolyzed protein diets contain a singular regular protein, let’s say chicken, a common allergenic food. Hydrolysis breaks the chicken down into particles so small that, according to research, the protein is no longer recognized by the immune system as an allergen.
The benefit, it seems, is you can still feed your pet the food she is allergic to. The protein molecules have been processed to trick the immune system. I do not see the point in this.
Firstly the body is not being returned to health. It is being tricked into not responding to food it is being allergic to, assuming the hydrolyzed protein behaves as advertised.
Secondly, the methods and chemicals used in the hydrolysis process don’t convert protein into amino acids in the same way your pet’s body does. No one knows the long-term side effects these unnaturally derived substances may have on your pet.
Soy, also commonly used as a protein source in these diets, is a common allergen for pets and is a poor quality source of protein, in my opinion. It is totally biologically inappropiate for dogs (and cats). On top of that, it is estrogenic, which means it can eventually wreak havoc in your dog’s endocrine system. I prefer…to offer foods with no grains or starches.
Many traditional vets disregard the high amount of carbohydrates in most commercially available hypoallergenic foods, choosing to address skin infections with antibiotics and antifungal drugs instead.”
It is my personal experience that dog lovers rarely read the labels of the food they buy for themselves and their pets. Yes, I know that we sometimes need a degree in rocket science in order to understand all the difficult words. But we can make things easy: the more difficult the words on the labels are the less I trust the food. It is my personal opinion that the industrial food companies do not want to feed us and our pets. They want to make money. Whatever the cost for our planet or our health. The food we eat is now considered to be the first cause of our illnesses.
And by the way….If your dog is suffering from allergies I am more than willing to help her/him.
Just call me on 690192976 if you are living in Spain or send a message to email@example.com
Kindest regards from Brunothedoglistener.
Posted on February 2nd, 2013 by Bruno Goffin in Newsletter
It is now more than 20 years ago since I first started working with dog loving persons.
Over the years I felt very privileged because I could learn how to really understand dogs and how to really communicate with them.Now I am able to say that I understand dogs and they understand me. However I still notice how many people have trouble understanding what the calm assertive energy of a real pack leader is. I see the absence of the leader-energy being reflected in the words many clients use.
For my clients I see myself as the interpreter of what dogs are telling me, each time I translate the canine message in human languages. What I read in the body language of dogs is always true.
That is why it is, according to me, so easy to understand dogs.
By the way, what you read in my body language and what I read in yours is, according to me, also more accurate than what we say with words.
My work with dogs and their handlers still fascinates me very much because the more I teach the more I learn.
It took quite a while before I could understand the real meaning of some words used by my clients. Today I think that many words are being used, not in order to clearly communicate our thoughts, but in order to create a smoke screen. For that reason I started translating a few peculiar words that are being used by many clients and pupils. By translating words like “normally”, usually”, “generally”, and “sometimes” for my clients I can explain what they really mean for me.
If someone tells me that the dog “normally comes” when called, “usually listens”, “generally” picks up the ball and “sometimes” does not pull on the leash, it means to me that the dog is responding when SHE wants and not respecting the client as her pack leader.
But the most damaging word of all creates in us an enormous amount of shame and guilt. It is according to me the word SHOULD.
As I keep on hearing so many people using it, I want to explain what it means to me.
The violent word SHOULD, which we commonly use to evaluate ourselves, is so deeply ingrained in our consciousness that many of us would have trouble imagining how to live without it. It is the word SHOULD, as used in sentences like:
“I should have known better”,
“I should not have done that”,
“I should take more Schuessler minerals”,
“I should learn how to deal with my dog”,
“I should train more with my dog”,
“I should give up smoking”,
“I should exercise more”, etc….
Most of the time when we use SHOULD, we resist learning, because SHOULD implies we have no choice. Human beings, when hearing any kind of demand, tend to resist because a demand threatens our autonomy and our strong need for choice. We have this reaction to any kind of tyranny even when it is a demand coming from the internal dictator called “SHOULD”.
Humans keep saying “I SHOULD” and keep resisting doing what they should, because we were not meant to be slaves. We also were not meant to succumb to dictators called “I SHOULD” or “I HAVE TO”, whether this dictator lives in a palace in the capital city or inside of ourselves.
“SHOULD” is a very damaging word, because when we say it, we are in effect saying “I AM WRONG”. Saying “I SHOULD” we are punishing ourselves. I think we do not need more “wrongs” in our life and we do not need to punish ourselves.
What we need is more freedom of choice and more love in our lives.
Do you want an immediate solution?
The solution I propose is to replace “I SHOULD” with a sentence like
“IF I REALLY WANTED TO, I COULD…”.
Here are some examples:
“If I really wanted to, I could take Schuessler minerals”.
“If I really wanted to, I could learn how to deal with my dog.”
“If I really wanted to, I could stop smoking/eating junk food/drinking too much alcohol/ taking drugs…”
Do you see how you have a choice when you use this kind of sentence instead of saying “I should”?
If you really want to do something, you CAN do it, or NOT do it.
Now it is your decision to do it or not do it.
And it will be your responsability to do it or not do it.
Try it out.
You will soon see how it positively influences your life and the life of your dog.
From Bruno with love.
“Nonviolent Communication. A language of life” by Marshall B. Rosenberg
“You can heal your life” by Louise L. Hay
Posted on January 2nd, 2013 by Bruno Goffin in Newsletter
Writing on 02.01.2013 I am sending y’all a big Thank You for all the good wishes.
Instead of sending wishes for a so-called “new” year I am offering you a gift, not only for one year, but for … life.
During the year 2012 I have been reading and re-reading the book “Life after Death. The book of answers” by Deepak Chopra not less than five times. Each time I re-read it, I received new insights. In addition to that I continuously kept on thinking about its contents and I also talked about it in what I call ” my weekly circle of men”.
The book is infuencing me deeply and for that reason I decided that at the beginning of this “new” year 2013, I would send you a gift instead of wishes.
My gift to you is (part of) a very old Indian tale about the meeting of the young woman Savitri and the monk Ramana, as I found it in Deepak Chopra’s book.
Believe me, it is sort of the ultimate gift because the title of the tale is nothing less than “The Cure for Dying”.
Here we go.
The Cure for Dying.
Following Ramana up a mountain, Savitri saw they were approaching a stream. Ramana the monk sat down, pulled out his reed flute and began to play.
When Ramana stopped playing he asked her: “What if I could teach you the cure for dying?”
Savitri was startled. “I’m sure everyone dies.”
“Then you believe in rumors.
What if I told you that you’ve never been happy? Would you believe me?”
“Of course not. I was happy this morning,” said Savitri.
Ramana nodded. “We all remember being happy and no one can talk us out of that knowledge. So let me ask you another question. Can you remember NOT being alive?”
“No,” Savitri said hesitantly.
“Try harder. Cast your mind back to when you were very, very small. Try as hard as you can remember NOT being alive. This is important, Savitri.”
Savitri tried her best, but she had no memory of not being alive.
“Perhaps you cannot remember not being alive because you always have been,” said Ramana. He pointed to a locust clutching to a twig over her head. “If you see a locust emerging from the ground after seven years’ sleep, does it mean it was dead before that?”
Savitri shook her head.
“Yet the only reason you believe you were born is that your parents saw you emerge from the womb. They thought they witnessed the moment you began to exist, so they spread the rumor you had been born.”
Savitri was astonished at this line of reasoning.
Ramana became insistent. “Look at this stream: All you see is a short stretch of it, yet would you say you know where the stream begins or where it ends? Heed me, Savitri. You accept death because you accept birth. Therefore you think the two must go together. Forget these rumors that you were ever born. That is the only cure for dying.”
Ramana stood up and asked: “Do you believe me?”
“I want to believe you, but I am still afraid,” Savitri admitted.
“We can’t base reality on what we don’t remember, only on what we do. Everyone remembers being; nobody remembers nonbeing,” Ramana said and walked on.
Posted on August 17th, 2012 by Bruno Goffin in Newsletter
Merle in Cape Town (SA) sent me the following message.
Thank you so much for all your advice. I really enjoy reading your emails.
I have to admit that we have not actually tried hard enough to train our
The BIG problem that we have is with our little rescue dog who we have had
with us since February this year.
She is absolutely crazy about tennis balls. When we brought her home for the
first time she very quiet sniffed around the house and then just lay
looking at everyone. Suddenly she found a tennis ball amongst the hooves and
chewed bones. She immediately cheered up and brought the ball to us showing
us how to kick it, Obviously we kicked it for her and she was as happy as
could be. In fact she really made herself at home after that and she is a
lively active happy dog.
She will play with the ball by herself – burying it in her bed or pushing it
under the furniture and then retrieving it.
The problem comes when she decides that she needs someone to throw or kick
the ball for her. She puts the ball in front of you and stares at it. If you
don’t oblige she starts whining and no amount of ignoring stops her.
Eventually we put the ball away but she will stare at the hiding place and
whine or bark. This can go on indefinitely. At night we put the ball away
and she has accepted that but the minute that we wake up she starts nagging
for that ball.
We need to break this habit! Please can you help?
Thank you – I know that you will say that we are not the pack leaders but
how do we do this when it comes to this particular problem.
Here comes my answer:
It is obvious that you love your dog very much but it is also obvious that you can still learn a lot about correct communication between yourself and your dog. I quote from your message:
“I know that you will say that we are not the pack leaders but
how do we do this when it comes to this particular problem.”
First I want to TRANSLATE this the following way:
1. You know that you are not behaving like pack leaders for your dog.
2. Nevertheless you want me to send to you the remedy for one symptom which makes it very clear to me that you are not behaving like pack leaders.
Offering you a remedy for the symptom while ignoring the cause of the dog’s behaviour is not what I prefer to do.
I also want you to know that I cannot offer you a quick fix for your dog as I am not a plumber you call whenever you have
a leaking tap.
I am a teacher and I teach people who want to learn how to behave correctly with their pets.
Learning takes time and is exactly the opposite of a quick fix.
I assume there are many things like tennis balls, hooves and chewed bones lying on the floor of your home.
What does this mean for your dog?
What is her interpretation of this situation?
Whenever I enter a home where I see lots of toys and chewing bones on the floor I immediately recognize a clear symptom of a problematic relationship between humans and canines.
On the one hand I see dog-loving humans who spoil their dog with lots of toys and chewing bones, hoping that their pet will be happy with it. These persons might think they love their dog but they do not correctly understand her.
On the other hand we have the dog who considers the presence of these toys and chewing bones to be the very clear proof of the fact that the humans want her to be in charge of the pack.
Why is that so?
Because toys do not exist in nature.
What humans call toys are preys for dogs.
As there are lots of preys lying on the floor of your home (and these preys are dead, as they do not move anymore), the dog thinks you want her to be in charge of the pack.
You do not touch the preys unless given permission by your dog to do so.
If a canine has killed a prey and the other members of the pack do not touch this prey, they show a lot of respect for this canine.
If humans allow to have many toys and chewing bones on the floors of their homes, the dog thinks that her dominant behaviour is being accepted by the humans. For the dog it is obvious that the humans are behaving like her subordinate puppies.
This is a very common but also very unfortunate misunderstanding. First the humans are unknowingly causing the problem and then they start blaming the dog for the problem they have caused themselves.
What is the remedy?
You write how you enjoy reading my emails.
Well, the remedy is to not only read my emails but to implement them.
How can you do that with your little dog?
Buy a big plastic box and put all the toys and chewing bones in it.
Hide the box somewhere in the house.
Accept that your little dog is bored stiff.
Little dogs are usually much more active and energetic than lovely giants like New Foundlanders or Saint Bernard dogs.
Dogs that are bored stiff have to get rid of their energy one way or another.
The compulsive behaviour of your little dog is her solution for releasing her energy.
Now that you have hidden the box with toys you are going to spend some quality time with her.
You are going to teach her to retrieve and to seek.
Any dog shows respect for a pack leader when she pays attention for the pack leader and when she sits when the pack leader wants it.
Thus you will have to teach her to come to you and sit in front of you.
Do this inside your home, only when you are full of calm assertive energy.
If need be, you will have to put her on the leash.
Then you will teach her to take the toy you offer her and to give it back to you when you ask for it.
As soon as she is releasing the toy when you ask for it, you can throw the toy one meter away, ask her to go and fetch it and bring it back to you.
When this is working perfectly, you can let her off the leash and increase the distance you throw the toy/prey from one meter to two, three,etc..
When your dog has brought back the toy several times and released it each time into your hand, you will then stop the exercise, put the toy in your pocket and ignore your dog.
In doggy language the exercise means the following:
1. You have taken the decision to start hunting(not playing) and you hunt with a prey (not a toy) that is yours.
2. You are organizing the chase (the retrieving) and in the end you stop chasing and you eat the prey (i.e. you hide the toy).
Repeat the exercise each time you feel calm and full of assertive energy.
Remember that commands are given only once and that you will never loose your patience.
Here is what I do with my dogs in the morning, after the early morning walk in the woods.
Having fed them I will call them to heel, make them sit and walk away.
I will then hide a small chewing bone, each time in a different spot, call them by name followed by the command “Seek”. The first dog will sniff and look for the “prey” I have hidden, while the other dog is waiting. As soon as the first dog has found its prey, I will hide the second chewing bone and call the second dog with the same command “Seek”.
Both dogs will eat their prey and nowhere will there be toys or chewing bones on the floor of my home.
I spend quality time with my dogs because that is also quality time for me. Each morning and evening I walk them in a different area, even if I have to take the car and drive a certain distance. It is good for my brain and for theirs.
Retrieve and Seek will NOT work for any dog loving person if that person is not behaving like a pack leader. In my weekly letters numbers 27 and 28 I have described how I behave with my dogs. Never in my life have I had any problems with the abandoned dogs that agreed to live with me.
Thanks for inspiring me.
Kindest regards from Brunothedoglistener.