Archive for the ‘thinkers’ Category

Point Pleasant Register column #1

By John Preston Smith – Contributing columnist

 


Since 1963 I have trained over 14,000 dogs. All shapes and sizes. Some crazy, some not-so-crazy. Some with minor problems, some meaner than a teased rattler. Some docile, some aggressive.I’ve seen Dobbies that would snuggle across your lap as you watch the evening news, and Dachshunds that’d just as soon bite your ankle as take another breath.I’ve worked with fence-jumpers, fear and sneak biters, run-a-ways, car chasers, fighters, chicken killers, incessant barkers, boundary breakers, and dogs that would attack anything on two legs. I’ve trained with traditional methods, with psychology, and hypnosis.I’ve known dogs, without professional training, that would give their life for their master. I’ve heard of dogs that come between their master and mistress during an argument, during play-time, and even while lying in bed watching TV. Surely, you’ve also heard of this type of canine behavior.

I’ve trained dogs for the TV series “Movin’ On,” trained dogs to prevent break-ins at hotels, and trained them to protect Sisters of the Cloth. I’ve trained dogs for business security, for the disabled, and for personal protection.

I’ve seen dogs pine at the feet of a sick master, lie at the site of a buried friend, and refuse food until a lost litter-mate had been found.

Conversely, I’ve seen people spend thousands of dollars on a sick pet, talk to a dog as if it were human, and fix his every meal as if they were feeding the Pope.

I believe dogs to be mate-substitutes, empty-nest substitutes, and child substitutes. They are one of the reasons I believe in God. I’ve seen them do more for humans than humans do for humans. If the relationships, bonds, and friendships we have with others are our greatest assets, then too, a dog at our side is as immeasurable in value.

They help us stave off loneliness, fear, and need. They protect us from physical and mental aggressors. They remind us that food, water, and shelter is, in reality, plenty for anyone to be happy.

There are easily drawn parallels between dog and man. We share the fight against enemies and traitors, our charity for others is immeasurable, and we are quick to forgive those wishing us harm. We stand by our family and friends in prosperity and in failure…in sickness and in weakness…during happiness and loss. We deal with misfortune and danger to the best of our individual abilities.

We humans, though, have advantages…one of which is our memory, permitting us to relive bygone days with family and friends…but our dogs cannot.

In 2011, prior to writing of my novel, “The Bog, The Legend of Man’s Best Friend,” I ran a survey with 200 responses from 24 states, Canada, Belgium, UK, and France. Here are some tidbits from the respondents. (By the way, there are 43,346,000 households in the US. with an average of 1.8 households with a dog. That’s 78,022,800 dogs!) From the survey, 99 percent like dogs; 90 percent love dogs; 87 percent talk to their dogs; 98 percent believe dogs have emotions; 95 percent believe dogs make choices; 80 percent believe dogs are a gift from God; 75 percent believe dogs have a soul; 70 percent believe dogs go to heaven; 87 percent believe their world would be significantly changed if upon waking tomorrow there were no dogs. (I am particularly interested in your thoughts about the results of this survey.)

In the next few columns I will answer questions that eat at you about your dog. How was he chosen to be your best friend, does he possess a soul, how do you know when to let him go, where is his place of rest after death, will you ever see him again, what does he want when he licks your lips, and what are the two commands that will solve 95 percent of all canine problems? Where does the Bible stand regarding a hereafter for dogs? What does he think about, how does he handle time, and what are his three levels of attention?

Thanks for reading,

John

John Preston Smith, of Huntington, W.Va., is the author of nine novels, all are listed at jprestonsmith.com. Questions or comments can be directed to him at facebook.com/johnprestonsmith. Proceeds from his writings support Hoops Family Children’s Hospital in Huntington.

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I saw you, Babe

I Saw You Babe, is my new CD of original songs and it is now available.  As a highlight, my son, Robert, joins me for Neil Young’s Long May You Run.  Your donation supports the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital.  Check it out:  http://www.jprestonsmith.com New cd cover for John.jpg

Here’s to Mom…

I was thinking today about writing a new book, entitled, The Legend of the Last Mom.  How would you feel if upon waking tomorrow there were no Mom’s…anywhere?  Of course, that’s just fantasy.  But I sure wish my Mom were still here, cause I miss her like mad.  So on this day of days, here’s to all the Mom’s…may you continue to watch over us as we fumble and bumble through this crazy and mixed up world.

First Lady prayer…

My Life With Dogs #13

Friends: I have decided to share with you My Life With Dogs. These Blogs taken from my book, 14000 Dogs Later, may be one page at a time, or more. I don’t want to dump too much on you at a time. I hope you enjoy. Feel free to make comments here, or on Face Book or Twitter. Best, John
This, by the way, is the continuation of my last entry.

     I had become hooked on training dogs and was a voracious consumer of all aspects of dog history and training; particularly studying the techniques of well-known dog trainers. That knowledge, along with what I had learned at Canine TV Trainers, led me to write my own manual, which I entitled the Famed Method of Dog Training.  And “no”, I did not plan “slipping a mickie” into every dog’s water pan prior to class. Rather, the name was my way of honoring Mr. Tuck for what he had taught me about animals, well beyond the induction of a hypnotic drug prior to a training session.
Since I worked eight-hour days for the military, by the time I made it to the pet shop in downtown Washington, fed animals and cleaned cages, it was usually dark by the time I started training. Fourteenth Street in downtown DC was mostly the center of the African/American commercial life in the city. Needing room that was not available in the shop, I used the streets at night to tame and train ocelots, cheetahs, dogs of all sizes, and fox. A fox would walk on a leash with me though he would be totally absorbed in his surroundings. Any movement from cars, passersby, or bikes, would pique his defensive mechanism and his hackles would stand and he would snarl through clinched teeth. By the way, it didn’t take me long in training a fox to learn the meaning of the anecdote that a coward will kill you to get out of a corner. If I cornered him in a storefront doorway, trying to pet him, he would rip the glove off my hand and even dive at my throat.
Anyone remaining on 14th Street when I trained animals at night promptly crossed to the other side. This practice began shortly after one of the first dogs I trained. As it happened I was working with an attack-trained Doberman Pinscher who Mr. Tuck had agreed to retrain and desensitize. The dog belonged to a local policeman, had been shot in a drug bust, and was being retired because of his injury. The policeman did not want the dog put down because he felt the dog had saved his life. He had heard of the work that Mr. Tuck had accomplished in the training of dogs and asked for help. I implored Mr. Tuck to let me work with Boomer and he finally agreed following my relentless pleadings.
I had been working with Boomer for about 45 minutes one evening when gunshots shattered storefront glass and burglar alarms screamed. Not knowing what to do, I froze…until Boomer started pulling me in the direction of the gunfire. He wasn’t in a hurry. Each step was measured and calculated. I couldn’t have held him back if I wanted; instead, like a dummy, I followed.Doberman (2)
Sirens began to blare and rubberneckers peeked from second-story windows as the burglar alarm seemed to grow in intensity.
Two men burst through the broken window of a jewelry store, skidded to a stop as flashing lights from police cars approached; they turned and ran straight towards Boomer and his bumbling handler. I don’t know where my voice came from, but I heard myself say, “Boomer, get ‘em.” I dropped the leash and he lunged at the criminals who were paying more attention to what was behind them instead of what was in front.
When the first guy saw Boomer he screamed and threw his gun at the dog. Boomer hit the second man, knocking him across the hood of a Volkswagen and into the path of the cop cars.
As quickly as it had started, it was over. I finished my training with Boomer and put him up for the night. As I left the shop two of the cops thanked me and people on the street waved at me. The next day I had a nickname…Demon Man, and I was never bothered by anyone when I trained animals on the streets of 14th and U.

“When is the best time to write?”

writingAs an author, I am often asked, “When is the best time to write?”  It is easy and trouble free to brush this person off with a trite response, such as, “Whenever you feel the urge.”  Mostly, though, that question comes from the heart…the same as it did from me when I first thought about putting pen to paper.  In other words, I take that as a serious question, and so I answer it seriously.  I refer to the book, Beyond Imagination, specifically to the short story, Eight Hours to Live, and even more specifically to Principle Number Two…as follows:

 

PRINCIPLE NUMBER TWO: Time is precious and priceless
Consider diamonds.
What fantasy fills your mind when you imagine that fine gem that represents power, potency, and riches? It is the hardest jewel known, the oldest possession you can own, and symbolizes undying love. Formed in the deepest regions of Earth and brought to the surface by volcanic force, its age may be three billion years.
How often have you said, I wish I had more time to do this or that, when in reality you had plenty of time, it’s just that you failed to face the task at hand when you should have. Procrastination is a disease with which everyone deals. “Why not put off today what can be accomplished tomorrow?” “Drag your feet, everyone else does.” “Take your time, stall, hold back—”
At what point in time are you willing to recognize the value of time. After you have failed? After a relative has passed? After a love has been lost?
Time is fleeting and short-lived. It is here for the moment—and then it is gone. You cannot grab it, corral it, control or manipulate it. And most certainly, you cannot purchase it. It is precious beyond understanding and it is priceless beyond payment. It is a gift that cannot be given, a worth that evades affordability, and a possession that cannot be owned. And yet, this priceless and precious commodity is yours, every moment of every day, to do with as you will. You may use it, misuse it, or ignore it—whichever you choose you must recognize its fickle nature. It is here only for the moment, and then it is gone—forever, because Time is precious and priceless.