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ISCP member Rowena’s journey of discovery with Cauta, her adopted Romanian street dog.

Tuesday was an intense and moving day. Setting off before dawn we travelled through the mist to a warm welcome and an array of barns and fields. We entered the expanse of the training barn with stone cold feet, clutched hot tea, and as the day unfolded we participated in a deep engagement between human and canine.

To put it another way, we went to a day’s workshop with Chirag Patel, who worked with a selection of different dogs with ‘minor behaviour’ issues. I considered being accompanied by Cauta, but was worried he wouldn’t quite cope for the whole day, so ventured out on my own, with a friend and his mascot, Poppy the tiny rescue puppy. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but what I found was hugely engaging and fascinating.

The work with the dogs seemed to come from a place of such deep respect for them as sentient beings, able to express their fears and make their own decisions. Each dog clearly showed what they could cope with at that time, in that environment, and the work began where they were.

I left with a notebook full of activities and ideas to introduce to Cauta, (along with a nagging feeling of how to create the time to do so). But for me that wasn’t the jewel in this experience, it was witnessing how someone can so deeply be with another, human and animal, without judgement, but with a rare honesty.

Rhoda Lermen’s comment from her book, ‘In the company of Newfies: A shared life’ seems apt here:

‘It isn’t easy…but it is her language and I must listen or she will stop speaking to me. Because I’ve learned to listen, my Newfies have continued to speak’. (quoted in ‘Melancholia’s Dog’ by Alice Kuzniar p.126)

A lot seemed to be about waiting, waiting for the dog to cue you, waiting till they are ready and acknowledging their communications. It bought to mind also the importance of breaks from each other, how as humans we need time apart to process and re-integrate, and so do dogs.

In other news we are preparing for one of our first trips away this weekend. A workshop many miles away. My apprehension is pretty high, not entirely sure how we will all get along with staying away. The car has more stuff in it than Mariah Carey’s tour bus.

For weeks I have been pre-occupied with what if’s, what if Cauta tears up the bnb, barks the place down, turns into a gremlin, or all of the above? I’ve tried to think of everything to bring that may help him calm. But this morning I thought perhaps it’s time just to go and do this, and be open to whatever occurs. None of us are perfect and we can’t control what may or may not happen. But perhaps my perspective could do with a shot of Cauta’s, as he seems to see life as an opportunity to play, maybe we can join him in that…

Wish us luck!

With many thanks to David Hadley, ball of energy Poppy and all at The Dog Training Barn.


Turbo charged rescue pup Poppy


David and Poppy doing some serious ‘stationing’.