If you want change, sometimes you must abandon your instincts, as Davis shows in her spirited, lighthearted foray into agility training with her dog, Willow.
Agility training, unlike obedience training, is not intended to teach a dog how to properly behave. Rather, agility training is, as David’s trainer explains, “fun and games for the dogs.” Through such training with their human owners, dogs will learn how to partake in activities on beams, tubes and obstacles—ideally, on their own and for their own enjoyment. The key, Davis says, is positive reinforcement. At the onset, her instincts tell her that negativity and scolding are the way to make her dog do as she says. But as she discovers, she needs to adapt and adjust to her dog’s behavior, which she can accomplish in large part through training. A skilled writer, Davis tells her tale with intimacy as she casually converses with her reader, describing her and Willow’s journey from the beginning. In her kind, cheerful treatment, she expresses honest thoughts about her own perceived shortcomings as a pet owner, as highlighted by the training experience. Through the detailed examination of Davis’ experience, readers will not only comprehend her expanded knowledge of spirit and soul, but also her feelings of failure and, most significantly, her reinforced attachment to her pet. In the end, Davis’s memoir is as much about the human spirit as it is about dog training. It’s therefore a worthy read not only for those with their own “alien creature,” as Davis lovingly refers to her dog, but also for readers interested in why we do the things we do and how we might change our approach.
An enjoyable look at the connection between people and their dogs.