The brightest dog star of the North Shore passed away on Monday, February 29th, 2016.
Joey, (the Joster) came to Nancy & Eric F several years ago as a rescue. The previous owners were new to dog ownership and did not realize how important socialization and mental stimulation was for healthy dog development. His first three years were spent alone in a back yard, where he learned to amuse himself with toys and the odd lunge at passing dogs. On my first visit, I was shocked to see a dog so shut down. His eyes were flat, with absolutely no human connection, eye contact, or expression. Nancy had called me shortly after they adopted him, as they were at a loss as to how to deal with his aggressive behavior towards other dogs. I was more concerned about the lack of human connection and joy…
Each week I saw a bit more light in his eyes, and willingness to make a connection with eye contact with Nancy. He learned to retrieve, and respond to basic cues. However, Nancy was most concerned about Joey’s lunging at other dogs. She was committed to being the leader, and I was determined to make her more fun for Joey!
I suggested to Nancy that she try to vary her voice, as it was naturally monotone. She really struggled with how to fix that! She also really struggled with the idea of how to make herself more fun, as I also suggested she lighten the training up, by playing and dancing more with some training moves I showed her. Joey was a Golden Retriever, for crying out loud, so perhaps we could remind him of his breed temperament standards! This is where things got interesting….
On my next visit, I was amazed by an incredible shift! Nancy had worked out the problem of her monotone voice and stress in a unique way. “When we see a dog, I sing and skip along, and guess what? We dance right by other dogs!” She shared with me how her first singing attempt with cheer leading
“Let’s Go Joster, Let’s Go!” worked very well. This morphed into a better result with the melody “How do you solve a problem like the Joster? How do you take a dog and make him calm…you train him everyday so he listens to what you say, stay calm with 4 paws on the ground! How do you solve a problem like the Joster? You train him, you train him, you train him every day!!!!”
The singing and skipping helped keep the game fun for Joey, but also helped Nancy stay relaxed. The combination was magic. In the meantime, Joey made some dog friends he could learn to play with….
Other dog owners on the North shore and Whistler marveled at Joey’s recall, his response to cues, and manners. Chasing off after a squirrel was no problem as “Stop! In the Name of Love!” stopped him in his tracks and “Imagine you and me” belted out by Nancy brought Joey running back to her side.
A passing dog owner said, “Hey, you’re the lady who sings to her dog! I tried it and guess what? We’re having fun!”
Much too soon, Nancy got the sad news of Joey’s terminal illness, which would take his life prematurely. Her last song was “The road that we are traveling is long till journey’s end, we share one destination so walk with me my friend.”
“Our dance was slower, yet we danced”.
So sing to your dogs people, skip and dance and sing, in memory of Joey, “the Joster”, the brightest star!
In Loving Memory of the Joster.