Episode 6: Honoring Your Dog's Dogness
Heather: Welcome to Sometimes There's Side Eye, a podcast about two friends having real and unfiltered conversations about dogs and people. Listen as we talk about our lives with dogs, training, behavior, share some laughs, and a lot of banter. I'm Heather.
Kristi: And I'm Kristi. On this episode, we are going to talk about how we as humans exploit our relationships with animals. Before we get started, we ask that you subscribe, podcast if you are enjoying these topics to get started. Heather, you want to start us out?
Heather: As usual, Kristi and I get involved in these large conversations. I don't know why we always get started over Facebook messenger, and then it becomes this larger topic that we have to talk about, except now we get to talk about them with the world on our podcast. I don't know. Do we say sorry to everyone or you're welcome? I'm not really sure.
Kristi: It might be a little bit of both. A little of both.
Heather: Probably. We started talking about, actually, I'm just gonna read to you the comment that Kristi wrote to me, so that you guys can understand what made this thing. We're going.
Kristi: Yeah, where we're going.
Heather: Kristi wrote, when we have a healthy respect or fear of an animal, we respect boundaries, but once we have a relationship with that animal, we so often exploit that relationship, which is pretty shitty. I agree, that is pretty shitty. I also would like to say I'm guilty of this.
Kristi: Absolutely. So me too. Not absolutely you. Absolutely me too. And the reason I sent that was actually because I was giving Julius a bath. And when I first got Julius, he's, he's big. And my thought process always with a new dog is to be very cautious. But also he was very large. He's so gentle and so sweet, but I'm still very cautious. Right. He's a new dog. Yeah. So I did a lot of things to make that time easier, like licky mats. and asking him he could get into the tub and if he was ready for that it was very like incremental steps. Now he's been with me for seven months we have a great relationship I trust him he trusts me and he was in the bath I gave him a lick mat of course but he had run out of peanut butter on the lick mat and he really wanted to get out but he wasn't done with his bath he still had soap on him and so I was like nobody just stay I'm sorry just stay you have to to stay put. And then I thought, man, there's a fine line between pushing them, any animal, any person, but pushing that, that individual to their potential. Yeah. Versus taking advantage of a relationship that's already established. And it's a really fine line. I think it's a great, a finer line than we realize. Yeah. And as soon as I realized he was only staying in the tub because he is a good dog and he really, really wanted to please me, but he really, really want it out. You know, I finished up really quickly and let him out. And then we did lots of like praise and reward and treats after and, and all sorts of stuff to help him out. That's when I sent you that message of man, I was right on the border of exploiting that relationship.
Heather: Mm hmm.
Kristi: Just because I knew I could get away with it at this point.
Heather: Yeah, because you know him after seven months. Hello, plugging Kristi's foster dog Julius, who's brilliant. Adopt him.
Kristi: Adopt him.
Heather: You've known him for seven months at this point, so you feel more comfortable with, I hate to say it, but it's exactly what we're thinking, what you can get away with, right? Yeah. Even though he's an animal and we're a human, and we basically control every single moment of their lives, we then on top of that can potentially exploit the relationship too. And it's an interesting thing to talk about because I said to you, I absolutely do this. I do it differently. to my different dogs. I fall back on Thiago's stable temperament and I know that I have that. I mean, it's so terrible to say and I don't want people to feel bad about this conversation. I just want them to like take it as food for thought when you're thinking about your individual relationships with your dogs because it is interesting to think about. So in Thiago's situation, I know his temperament is solid and that he can handle the majority of anything I dish out to him. And we're not talking about abuse here, people. We're talking about, hey, if I ask him to do something that maybe he's not totally comfortable with, that he's going to roll with it and it will all be okay. Whereas Tater is a really, really soft, sensitive guy and he has some pretty significant fear things depending on the scenario. And so I really handle him with kid gloves. situations and yeah I talk shit about him but I always remember that he doesn't have that really really solid solid genetic stability behind him and that's not to say anything's wrong with him there's nothing wrong with him but he's just a softer guy who has more sensitivities than Tiago does and even when I'm thinking about the three ratwealers I've owned their sensitivity levels handled. Link was like, you could have done anything to him. I mean, that dog was like hard as nails, his temperament, although he was reactive and had all these other issues. When it came to asking things of him, he was in no way fearful. He was way overconfident and bold and everything else. And then Cash was like my softest, Rottweiler. And Thiago is like right down the middle. And it's interesting to think about how we take it for granted. You know? Yeah. comment to me first I thought, oh shit, this is podcast episode. But it also made me think about we really are two separate species. It sent me down the road of thinking about how those two different species, we need to like respect each other, because we are different. And you know, I say this a lot, we domesticated dogs. So we owe to them to make sure that their lives are and they're full and they're whole as much as possible. And I really do believe that. And it just started making me think about how we see them in our lives and how we interact with them like in modern day.
Kristi: Yeah, cause it's changed a lot. Even over the last 20 years.
Heather: Yes. The way that our dogs live now, my dogs, you know, as an adult, the way that they live in comparison to the way that dogs lived when we were kids different and I'm not exactly convinced that in every way it's better.
Kristi: Yeah, I think in a lot of ways it's a double edged sword. We've invited dogs into our homes more to be a part of our life more. We're more focused on enrichment and we're cognizant of dogs well-being. They're vet care. All of these things I think about the dog I had as a kid versus how my dogs live. They have it a lot better. Yeah. I'm going to be honest. but also that comes with some downsides I think.
Kristi: A lot of dogs. I don't think that every dog is designed to go to lunch on the patio. Yeah. Or go to the farmers market or to go to Barkstoberfest.
Kristi: I'm really lucky that my dog, she's a champ when it comes to a lot of these things, but I also know when to pull her.
Kristi: And I think if you're going to kind of experiment We all love having our dog with us. Most of us. Having our dog with us. But make sure that your dog is actually enjoying it. Like I know my dog loves going to Home Depot. She might see one or two other dogs, but it's not, I'm not intervening constantly. No, please don't let your dog meet my dog. She's gone to Barktoberfest with hundreds of dogs, but I also know when she's done. And I keep a wide berth, which is difficult to do. And then it's not nearly as fun. It's not that she would be mean aggressive. I just don't trust other people's dogs. I can't tell you how many times I've been told a dog is friendly and it is not friendly.
Heather: We're in a pressure cooker in a social situation like that. So come on.
Kristi: It's a lot to handle. And I also, Lucy can sit through a lunch or dinner on a patio. No problem. But I've decided not to take her on those adventures anymore, unless it's like we're hiking and then we're going to lunch after or we're going to dinner after. And she does great in But it's not fun for her to simply come and sit quietly because that's what I expect of her I expect her not to be smelling people's food or trying to steal my food or other people's food Yeah, I'm not expecting her to greet anyone. She's literally just laying down.
Heather: You're such a bitch And that is a lot of work.
Kristi: It is a lot of work. It's hard. That's hard work.
Heather: Yep That's a lot of expect of a dog And it's interesting to think about because in our minds, us being the humans that we are, we're like, of course our dog wants to go to the patio with us, but at the same time, we're asking a hell of a lot, you know?
Heather: Especially if the expectation is you come to the patio and you are not an absolute wild beast, you know? When I take Thiago out somewhere, I kind of look at it as practice for like obedience in general, expect pretty high level of good behavior from him. I mean, I still remember he's a dog, but I don't want him jumping on people. I don't want him being crazy. I don't want him being reactive to other dogs or having big feelings about anything really. And when you think about that, it's like, holy cow, we're we really are asking a lot of our dogs. Even just as far as asking our dog to go on a walk and he's asking in a heel position beside us. We're asking them to do a drill sergeant type behavior that is not natural to them in any way, shape, or form and ignore every single thing that is hitting their senses and just to go along with us. That's like asking us to go out and ignore every single thing that's visually interesting to us. It's just crazy.
Kristi: Yeah. Like to, to take us out and and say but don't look at the sunset don't look at the cactus don't look at the wildflowers just look at the concrete in front of you and nothing else
Heather: Yeah don't look at the way the colors are reflecting off the mountain don't look at
Kristi: yeah it all of that stuff and then I'm still getting fresh air so that's great you know but beyond that it's not very enriching yeah my life really not to just tear down no it's really not and it is what we are asking
Heather: I think the idea of how we lived with dogs when we were kids versus now so my dogs when I was a child lived differently than Kristi's growing up and that's not, you know, good, bad, indifferent. It was just different. My dogs were, you know, within my house, but my mom was a groomer. Like I literally grew up in a dog saturated family. It's not shocking that I became who I am. Our dogs slept with us at night. Like the whole thing. But then I think about how the dogs in our neighborhood just ran with the kids and chased the bikes and did all of these natural enriching things, went and dug in the dirt and they, well, where I grew up, they rolled in the cow patties. And they did all these like super, super doggy things. And then it was expected that they just came home at night and they were with the kids and whatever. And I think about how full were and we as humans just think, oh, well, we're bringing our dogs indoors and we're giving them a cushy bed and we're giving them a soft place to lay their head at night and all of this stuff. And it's like, because we just believe we are these superior beings, right? And I think we're missing the mark a little bit.
Kristi: Yeah, and we've kind of equated that because we're human and we view our dogs as our children a lot of times. Um, I don't think that's, that's bad that you feel like you love your dog as like you would a child, but they're not human. And so they don't have the same needs as us. So coming inside, yes, I think they love having a soft place to lay their head. Most being inside, you know, not all, but yes, most, I think most do love that, but there's more to it.
Heather: Yeah. I told Kristi before I started recording that my mother-in-law, who my love very much and is a wonderful woman, our dogs as our children. And I still, 20 years after being in a relationship with my husband have a visceral reaction every time she says it, because I do not subscribe to the fur baby culture. My dogs are my dogs. And yes, they're part of my family, but for me, they are a dog and I am a human and our needs are different. And that doesn't mean my dog any less than anyone else. I freaking love my dogs, people, but they're an animal. And I think about my relationship with them very differently than I would a human child. Having said that, I do not have human children, but to me, instead of them being my children, that just means I have way more resources and time to spend on my dog. Still a dog, not a kid. But it's interesting to me. and I'm not saying I'm some superior dog owner because I get it wrong a lot here. We started out the episode talking about how I take advantage of my dog, but do you think there's something to remembering that we are different species? Remembering that sort of establishes a different type of relationship. I don't know, help me out here, Kristi.
Kristi: Yeah, I mean, I also, a lot of people will wish me a happy Mother's Day on Mother's Day because I have dogs. And I'm like, oh, I don't think, what people are doing and I love that people want to include me and want me to feel like I'm not less of a person because I don't have children. But I also, I recognize that my dog is my dog. And I mean, I think there was one point where a dog had come off leash and attacked Lucy and I like rose up to the occasion to protect her. And I thought, Oh, I bet this is what moms feel when they say that they're having a mama bear moment. because I definitely felt that. I don't think of her as my kid. And I think like you said, there's some good in remembering that your dog is your dog. So they do have different needs. Do I like to dress up my dog? I mean, I kind of do. I mean, I like to take holiday photos.
Heather: Lucy dressed up is pretty freaking adorable.
Kristi: It is adorable.
Heather: Also Thiago in a St. Patty's Day mustache is something to behold.
Kristi: See? Yeah. And she has unicorn pajamas, people.
Heather: But but you pay her.
Kristi: Yes, I pay her and if she hated it, I wouldn't do it.
Kristi: So I think if we're gonna be like Heather and I don't say our dogs are your children.
Heather: We do.
Kristi: Um, but guess what? If you do like, like we've said it all along, this is kind of a non judgmental podcast. So if that's something that you relate to, then maybe think of it, your different species, you have different needs. So if you're how different your fur child, how different fur children would have different needs. Just like different human children have very different needs. Yeah, but view it from a different species altogether. I do think bringing dogs inside and viewing them as our children, like we said, it has some positive, but I think it takes away some of the dogness of dogs.
Heather: Oh, yes. So I can't express like how much I love seeing a dog, just be a dog.
Kristi: Hell yeah. People are so disgusted see a rolling horse poop if she stays there. That's so true. It's so, and everyone's like, that's so gross. And I'm like, I will give her a bath when she gets home cause she does sleep in my bed. So I'm not going to let horse poop be smeared at my bed.
Heather: You're not a farm animal.
Kristi: Okay. No, but guess what? That's such a dog thing to do.
Kristi: That I'm also not gonna stop it if it's safe. You know, if there's a place that she can be safe and roll in dog poop or not dog poop. poop or horse poop. Yeah, I draw the line. I draw the line at dog poop. I don't know why that is.
Heather: It's interesting. That's a line for hard line for Kristi dog poop versus dog poop. Yeah. Oh poop. I let her roll in any of it. I mean, that probably comes back to like the whole domestication thing, which is a whole nother rabbit hole, but it is interesting to think about.
Kristi: Yeah, I just now put that together. That's where my line is.
Heather: Yeah. No, I get what you're saying though. It's like I completely get where you're going because seeing my dogs be a dog is absolutely one of the most joyous things that I experience in my life. It's different for Thiago than Tater because Tater, I mean, his like living his best life is friggin on a couch with like some amazing treats and whatever wherever the food is. But even having said that, so we took a trip a couple weeks ago and we went to Pine. And there was snow and we picked this particular Airbnb because you walked out the back deck and you were on National Forests and it was beautiful and amazing. And yes, I did select that particular place just for my dog, Thiago in particular of course. And then Tater gets a benefit.
Kristi: But I mean, he gets fringe benefits.
Heather: It's fine. He does. But seeing them just be on 30-foot lines, You know, there was snow and there was mud and there was slush and there was deer poop and elk poop and now my dogs don't roll in it. But there was all this stuff and they're just sniffing and they're smelling and watching. I have video of Thiago sticking his whole head into the elk hoof prints and just sniffing like where the hell are these animals going and what are they doing. And just the dog-ness. of it. I mean, I took so much joy in those moments. And I just sit back and I think, is it that I really do see the beauty in that other species that allows me to enjoy it that much more? I mean, they're so free in those moments. They're so in their instincts, I guess, they're so just, they're free. They're just free, right? And we as humans, we get so much joy. bogged down and we overanalyze and we look at every little thing we even do it to our damn dogs and we get so bogged down by all this crap and watching my dog just be a dog. There's just so much freaking beauty in it and I think I think that's where it really comes from for me that I love that they're different. I love that they see such beauty and such simple things. Well, it's probably not simple to them, but simple to me.
Heather: The beauty in their ability to just live in that moment and hop through the snow and stick their head in whatever. You know, there's just so much. God, there's so much lightness in that. And joy. There's freaking joy. And I think that's maybe where the root of this episode came from at its core. And knowing how we look at our dogs and I thought that just occurred to me is the reason we love dogs so much is they're not human beings.
Kristi: Yes, like that's why we love dogs. They are not People they don't do the things people do like they're more forgiving They're all these things that you always see all the memes and the and the Inspirational things about and yet we're trying to make them into people, right? Like no, let's let's let them be dogs and enjoy their doggness.
Heather: Yes. Yes. I love that. You know, and listen, that's not the whole like we love dogs, we hate people, we're not that people. We actually love people. And I myself.
Kristi: The right people.
Heather: Yeah, I'm definitely an extrovert. But I totally agree with you. There's such beauty in the fact that they are different. I think I would love to see that recognized, celebrated, respected more. It's probably something in regards to Thiago that I need to remember more often. And now I probably will because I'll hear Kristi in my head.
Kristi: But I live there rent free.
Heather: Yeah, I know, I know. Pay the model. But seriously, there is something really, really beautiful that your dog is a dog. We just need to honor and respect that. Maybe take a little lesson from it, but also just say, hey, my dog's an amazing species and I'm just gonna sit back and I'm gonna enjoy how awesome that is. And love that the world is what it is today that allows us to have our dogs around us so much and be so frequent and present in our lives. safer because they live differently with us now than they did back in the day and Respect the things that we gain by dogs living the way that they do in Modern America But also remember the things that they lost in us living with them in modern America
Kristi: Yeah, and maybe make concessions too There are times that that I need my dog to just stick with me and not be sniffing all the things And there's times where I need my dog to walk with me for my exercise. And then there's times maybe I should just let her have her own walk. Yeah. If you are saying, but like, what can I do? Like I got this dog so I could go running or I had a hiking buddy or so I couldn't get back in shape. And if they're just sniffing for an hour or one spot, you're not getting your steps in, I'm going to tell you that right now. No. And I understand. It's not fun to just. go walk around the block by yourself. That's no fun. We much rather do it with your dog. So sometimes in my life, there are times where a walk is for me.
Kristi: And I'm like, okay, there's like this one's for me and we're just doing this for exercise. And then once we're done with this, then we're doing just sniffs for- Because you can do both. Instead of not one at a time. Yeah. So we both get what we need in that moment.
Heather: I love that. I tell my clients, there's three different types of walks. There's, I'm getting my steps in. There's sniff walks and then there's hikes trail walks, off leash walks, only for Thiago because he's safe, not every dog.
Kristi: Lucy cannot be trusted off leash.
Heather: Neither can Tater, but I have three different types of walks and I totally agree with you.
Kristi: I love the idea of merging what we need and what they need and making it about both of us two separate species and taking care of both those needs. Can I just say up until two years ago, Lucy did not get sniff walks. That was a new concept for me. I mean, she might get like three minutes sniffing in the grass if I felt like it was deserved. And as a younger dog, she needed a lot of structure. She needed to be told what good decisions were, and then shown those good decisions and not given a lot of opportunity to make bad decisions. So she did need a lot of structure in her younger years, but in the last couple of years, I've incorporated these sniff walks to just let her enjoy being a dog. And it's so fun, one, to watch her follow a scent through the park. Yeah. And it's almost always dog poop, unfortunately. But she does find things in the park. And I see her nose working back and forth. And she goes all around and then finds it. But an interesting thing that happened when I incorporated these, these walks, I would also reward for check-ins because Lucy's never been a dog that wants to check in. So I thought I want to reward for check-ins. So the combination has changed our relationship.
Heather: That is so true.
Kristi: About three years ago, I had professional photos done with Lucy and I got there half an hour early so that she could sniff and get it all out of her system. But it just being able to just sniff was so novel to her that even with half an hour, that was not enough time for her to get that out of her system. And so she was very disconnected. What's this other smell? What's this? And the photographer was amazing and got some great shots It was a lot more work to get that connection between the two of us that I know what we have, but it wasn't always obvious. Right. I had professional photos done again just a couple of weeks ago. Almost all the pictures were looking at each other. She's literally looking back. Like, yeah, so gorgeous. Saw that and I like wanted to cry because our relationship has changed because it's not so novel for her to be able to be a dog It was just so fun to see that relationship change though. When embracing just letting her be a dog.
Heather: Actually, I would love to, I think we should share the photo from three years ago and a photo from your most recent photo shoot on our Instagram for people to see because it is incredible to see the difference. And I do believe that a huge piece of that is you just celebrating it. Lucy being a dog. And you've always been an amazing dog owner. You've always been incredible. You've always done everything she needed. But it was like this extra little step up. And I do credit you and I and our podcast training journey and all the things that happened during pandemic and us being stuck indoors. And this adventure we went on together, because my relationship with Thiago is celebrating his dogness and allowing him to go and just venture out and be on a 30 foot line and take decompression walks. Shout out Sarah Stremming. Like that one simple thing has changed the way I live with my dog in so many ways and that the root of that is celebrating their dogness.
Kristi: Yeah and I've been starting incorporating that Julius as well. Like when he came to me, he was very confused by being allowed to sniff on his walk. And then he'd watch Lucy and he'd be like, okay, I think we're allowed to be dogs on this walk. I don't understand. And he's able to recover from things a lot faster. So like, he does still have some leash reactivities. So if he sees another dog, he's now able to look at it, be a little concerned, go back to you see okay I'm just gonna sniff I'm gonna be a dog and and I got this handled yeah there's some joy in letting them figure that out too yeah to round this whole thing up yes I guess we want people to think about the fact that we are two different species what does that mean for the dogs in your life and how can you celebrate the beauty of their dogness what else yeah human needs.
Heather: Yes. Yes. Celebrating the differences between the species and finding out ways to enjoy each other while still meeting both needs. Absolutely. How's that?
Kristi: I like it.
Heather: I like it. Go enjoy your dog.
Kristi: Go enjoy your dog.
Heather: So if you like this episode, don't forget to rate us to subscribe to go ahead and share us with your friends. We are now on Instagram. Where are we at, Kristi?
Kristi: We are at sometimes their side eye on Instagram.
Heather: Perfect. So give us a follow over there as well. We're going to be getting more content shared on there as time goes on. And we are dropping new episodes every other Thursday. Thanks for spending your time with us.