spirit flows thru -- Alison Rittger's spiritual reflections on finding the holy in the daily
PictureFoxiebeau on short leash
If my one and only had asked me before she tackled the topic of boundaries, I would have recommended she read Setting Boundaries for Chihuahua Mixes. While essential reading for folks with small rescue-tempered dogs, the thin tome can be read as a metaphor for life. Unfortunately, it is currently out of print.

Stay on a Short Leash. My one and only claims to have had her own personal and profound experience of a boundary, but it was in therapy and the rope, as she termed it, was of an indeterminate length. It was nothing like a leash, and I don’t mean the retractable kind. I had one of those once, but the trainer we hired to go with us to the dog park said I should be kept on a short leash. The point being a fixed length of sturdy material attached to a harness sets a more realistic boundary. Even as a metaphor, it works better. You always know how far you can go. Recognizing limits is reassuring. On a short leash, my one and only can never go astray. When she isn’t going to the dog park or walking around the block in the dark, she can try the retractable kind.

Be Consistent
Another boundary for us smaller, more sensitive animals that would work well for my one and only is consistency. And I don’t mean a “foolish” consistency, which I have heard my one and only say is the “hobgoblin of little minds.” I mean reliable limits. Because my one and only loves me so much, she doesn’t set reliable limits. For example, when she is on her iPad, I can sometimes jump into her lap and knock it on the floor and she laughs. Other times, given the same iPad, the same couch or chair and the same lap, I am swatted to the floor and admonished. So, which is it? Until I know for sure, I will continue to make the leap. Eventually, I will get it right.

Less Talk
The actual list of boundaries for Chihuahua mixes is pretty long, so I will let the next one be the last for this post. This suggestion goes back to the time of Shakespeare and was spoken by Polonius, the father of Ophelia and Laertes in the play Hamlet. “...brevity is the soul of wit…” For our purposes, think that less talk to your Chihuahua is smarter than more talk to same. And here is why. We respond to tone, not to verbiage.

Small dog persons can orate, as does Hamlet that they are"... but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.” (Probably another kind of bird.) There may be no sense in this for small dogs, even knowing that the meaning generally given to this passage is that "birds tend to fly with the wind, and, when the wind is northerly, the sun dazzles the hunter's eye, and he is scarcely able to distinguish one bird from another. If the wind is southerly, the bird flies in that direction, and his back is to the sun, and he can easily know a hawk from a handsaw. When the wind is north-north-west, which occurs about ten o'clock in the morning, the hunter's eye, the bird, and the sun, would be in a direct line, and with the sun thus in his eye he would not at all be able to distinguish a hawk from a handsaw. "

While some might find this explanation interesting, a small dog, not hearing words it knows like “food, stay, treat or walk” is at a complete loss. And thus are words wasted. My point is say it short, say it clear, and smile. As for my one and only, the less said the better.


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