Updated: Apr 28
My favorite musician of all time is Amanda Palmer. I've been in love with her for approximately 14 years now, my longest of long term relationships. Seeing her perform live was hands down one of the best experiences of my life.
When I have a rough day like today, her music soothes my spirit. She helps me see the good in the world again. One of my favorite ballads by her is "The Ukulele Anthem." Here are a portion of the lyrics:
Ukulele small and forceful brave and peaceful you can play the ukulele too, it is painfully simple play your ukulele badly, play your ukulele loudly ukulele banish evil ukulele save the people ukulele gleaming golden on the top of every steeple
Lizzie borden took an axe, and gave her father thirty whacks then gave her mother thirty-one, and left a tragic puzzle if only they had given her an instrument, those puritans had lost the plot completely see what happens when you muzzle a person's creativity and do not let them sing and scream and nowadays it's worse ‘cause kids have automatic handguns it takes about an hour to learn how to play the ukulele about same to teach someone to build a standard pipe bomb you do the math
So play your favorite cover song, especially if the words are wrong ‘cos even if your grades are bad, it doesn't mean you're failing do your homework with a fork and eat your fruit loops in the dark and bring your flask of jack to work and play your ukulele
You can listen to the entire thing here. To me this is a song about joy, about embracing life and finding the beauty in it. That's something that dogs help me do every single day.
Dogs are joy embodied. They are present in the moment. They sniff things, roll around in the dirt, run and jump with abandon and happily eat the treats you offer. Dogs are magical.
This is why seeing others treat them poorly is so, so hard for me. Taking people's money to treat their dogs poorly is the equivalent of twisting the knife in the wound.
Yes, it's immoral. It's downright deplorable behavior. It is consumer deception and malpractice of the highest degree. But beyond all that, I just don't get it.
Not because I'm a dog trainer. Not because one of my favorite things in life is to learn about behavior. But simply because I like dogs.
I was a shy kid growing up. A friendly dog in the room was like a life raft for me. In a sea of scary social interactions, dogs were instantly familiar. Dogs helped me get by. They still do.
They're fun and funny, light and free. Most of them, anyway. There are some that have had that joy stolen from them. This is unfair to the dog and to their family. I don't know why, but some people who pretend to be trainers make it their business to crush a dog's spirit. They use electric shock to train what should be a fun, easy behavior like "Sit."
They see no good in dogs. They see a spirit worth breaking and some happiness worth stealing. Again, I have no idea why. Because I happen to like dogs. These people want a dog at their every beck and call. They want a dog that is immobile and catatonic. That is their definition of a good dog.
And in addition to all of this, when this dog's family cannot bring themselves to hit, shock or otherwise hurt him, this pretender will call them weak. This family will be accused of being poor leaders and will be shamed for not using "tough love" on their new family member.
This family got a dog for the same reason you and I did. They wanted a new friend, a happy face to come home to.
Today was a day that I was so excited to come home to my dog's happy face. I was glad to breathe in her scent, take her for a walk and give her a treat for absolutely no reason. Because I like her. Because she's a good dog who deserves to be treated with kindness, just like the rest of them.
One of the unexpected consequences of training my dog using positive reinforcement is that she often follows me around our apartment. When I get up from the couch, she looks at me expectantly. From her point of view, something promising is always about to happen. She's always looking for the next good thing because she knows it will come.
This makes me deliriously happy. The fact that I have been able to provide that sort of life for another being, that's just awesome.
Isn't that what all of us want for our dogs? We call them our best friends after all. Today I would like you to share with me what your dog does that brings you joy. Tell me how they brighten your day and how you brighten theirs. We could all use a little more of that. I know I could anyway.
You may think my approach is simple-minded and naïve like if you want to save the world then why not quit and feed the hungry but people for millennia have needed music to survive and that's why i've promised john that i will not feel guilty
So play your favorite Beatles' song and make the subway fall in love