Recently, a father became so upset when his twelve year old
son was suspended from school that he beat the boy black and blue
with an electrical cord and bound his ankles with 30 pounds of
stainless-steel chain. The arresting officer said the boy was
chained like a dog. The officer got it wrong. We treat our
dogs better than that. It would be a sad commentary on this
generation if it became known as the one that knew how to fulfill
the needs of its dogs better than those of its children.
There is a place called Krabloonik in Colorado where sled
dogs are trained. At Krabloonik the dogs are encouraged to
romp and to play until they are about one and a half years old.
Then they begin their training. They are placed in the middle
of an experienced team of dogs where they follow in the steps of
the older dogs. After the adolescent dog learns commands and
discipline, he is worked throughout the team until he learns all
of the positions except lead.
The lead dogs are born leaders. Other dogs do not want to
be leaders and if put in that position, will reject it. While
they respect and follow the lead dog, they are most happy and
joyful when they are running with the team and pulling their
share of the weight.
The leader of the sled team is its human driver. This
driver has to earn the respect of the dogs in the team. If he
fails in this, the dogs become a pack and follow the lead of
another dog instead of the driver.
The driver holds no whip or rein but commands the dogs
verbally. He uses four commands: “down” for lie down, “alright”
to go, “gee” for right turn and “haw” for left turn. That’s it.
He does not need to shout these commands because he and the dogs
have developed a rapport and a bond of love, respect and
A successful driver truly loves and appreciates his dogs and
takes care of them. He is the one who feeds them, houses them,
keeps them in good health and takes them out as a team to do what
they love best, that is to race and to train. The driver cannot
delegate any part of this responsibility to anyone else. He must
establish his own rapport and bond of mutual respect and love.
There are interesting parallels in these techniques and
those used by parents who produce happy children. These are the
parents who give their children unconditional love and do not
expect them to be something they are not. They earn their
children’s love, respect and obedience not by physical or
emotional punishment but by always being there for them and by
giving them concrete examples of acceptable behavior. They do
not use the concept of “do as I say, not as I do.” Rather they
treat everybody, including their children, with respect and
A successful family functions as a team. All are concerned
for one another and each member shoulders his share of
responsibilities. Children who grow up in these families tend to
lead happy, joyful lives because they are contributing,
productive, thoughtful members not only of their own families but
of the human family.