Dear Old Trainer: The way you rave about dogs sounds like you think they are superior to humans. I don't have a dog, but I can tell you they are not better than humans. Where do you come off with that idea?
Answer: I do consider dogs superior to humans, Leroy, but I will change my mind if you tell me the name of the last person you met who gave you unconditional love. Can't think of one? That's because unconditional love does not exist among humans.
And that love is forever. A dog remains loyal for eternity. If you are gone, their love remains just as strong every day until you return, no matter how long it is.
Tell me the last human who never once held it against you when you made a mistake, who forgave you immediately when you were wrong, even if you were mean to them, and was willing to give their life protecting you.
You are lucky if you meet a human who has even one of those qualities. You will win the lottery before you meet a person who has them all.
And yet dogs have them all and prove it every day of their lives.
You are missing a wonderful part of life, Leroy. One that cannot be duplicated in any other way. Think about that. Then drop me an email, and I'll help you find a dog that will prove all the above.
Dear Old Trainer: You wrote something about how yawning will calm down a nervous dog. Sticks, my mixed breed, gets nervous and excited when he hears airplanes. If I yawn, will it calm him down?
Arlana, Mill Valley
Answer: It will help. Sticks watches you at all times to gauge your mood. Dogs empathize more than any other animal, including humans. They love humans so much they are happy when the leader is happy, sad if the leader is sad.
Sticks doesn't know what an airplane is or what all that noise means. He isn't sure if it is a threat, so it makes him nervous. He is watching you for clues on what you think about it. A yawn is a good way to communicate there is nothing to worry about. When you yawn and relax, it shows Sticks airplanes are unimportant to his life.
Anyone with a dog can do a simple experiment to prove what an immense influence their mood is on their dog. Take your dog out in the yard and start laughing and running around, telling your dog how good you feel. Your dog will immediately start running around and barking and having fun.
Then sit down and act sad and depressed. Your dog will become worried about you and try to cheer you up. Reason number 4,972 why we love dogs.
The good folks at DogTV are currently running a free preview of the service on Channel 354 of DirecTV. If you have DirecTV, give it a try. Leave it on for your dogs and see if they pay any attention. Let me know what you and your dogs think. The pack and I will watch it and have a review next week.
Jack Haskins writes as The Old Trainer. A trainer for more than 30 years, he has rescued, trained and placed more than 2,000 dogs. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.