A Time for Reflection

posted January 31st, 2016 by
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A Time for Reflection

By Pat Becker

Every once in a while someone asks me how and why I became an animal enthusiast, a pet advocate, a dog lover. After all, I have hosted a national PBS TV series, “The World of Dogs Biography Series,” a local radio show on KTOK, “Speak,” and a local TV show on KSBI, “Dog Talk.” So when I’m interviewed, it’s often the first question asked of me.
I’ve given it some thought. It occurred to me I was exposed to the charms of animals at an early age. I can only assume it was through my parents’ compassion for—and access to—puppies and kittens raised by my grandmother. Both my sisters and I learned the value of having furry, loving companions with whom we shared our secrets, our joys and our sorrows. To hold a tiny kitten, to be aware of its vulnerability and feel the obligation for its care taught us dependability.
We also took pride in having trained our dogs by gaining their trust. My family and I have long been involved in obedience trials. As a result, the tradition has been passed down to my daughters. I began showing my Cocker Spaniel in conformation classes at a young age. I trained my Beagle in agility and freestyle and my Canaan dog in barn hunting. Likewise, my daughter Lorri achieved a CDX title on her Old English Sheepdog and had the first Rat Terrier in the U.S. to win a Master award in Fly Ball. And we’ve hunted quail with seven fabulous Pointers for years.
Out of my love of animals I have developed close relationships with the best and brightest professionals in the country, having had the opportunity of highlighting their skills with dogs on my radio and television shows. I never tire of learning new information about dog training, medical updates for animals and the all-important psychology of evolution among our animals. Passing on exciting, educational data is my mission.
My experience as an actress with 20th Century Fox in the 60s, and as a singer with The William Morris Agency, gave me the confidence to feel comfortable in the area of communication as a media professional, allowing me to further the cause of loving and caring for our animal friends.
Through the years, most of my dogs have been adoptees. God blessed me with 46 furry companions in my lifetime. Some were purebreds; some were crossbreeds. Frankly, I saw more in them than their DNA and defined them by their good character, not a breed.
After all, I’ve never met a dog who could not be trained. However, I’ve met countless numbers of people who had a great deal of trouble communicating with their dogs and other people, a fact which might account for their lack of training skills.
When any of us in the business of dog advocacy are asked the question, “What in your opinion is the most important advice you can give to someone who has recently adopted a dog?” our answer is unanimous: learn to “speak dog!” You can’t understand a dog if you don’t have the ability to communicate with him.
We can truly learn to “talk” with our dogs. Dogs study our physical movement and the energy level of our vocal activity. Then they interpret and respond to our interactions with them. Trying to understand us and how to please us are necessary efforts which ensure our dogs’ survival. Sadly, many people are often inconsistent in their physical and emotional behavior, and it makes the dogs’ job harder.
Also, we can learn to read our dogs’ body language. From the tip of their ears to the tip of their tails, their bodies speak to us. Make it a point to study your dog’s active and reactive movements. It will make your lives together so much easier! Remember every time you interact with your dog you’re teaching him something about you, himself and the world around him. Make it something good!

Many hugs!

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