This is one of my favorite photos of Pundit– of the joy, focus, fierce athleticism, and fearlessness with which he flings himself out over the water in pursuit of whatever we threw. I love the way his front legs cross as he flies.
My dog trainer, Kevin Behan ’s, theory of dogs is all about energy, about getting your dog’s energy to flow to you and through you so that you are a conduit of its energy rather than a dampener of its energy, because if you are a dampener of its energy the dog will want to avoid you, especially at moments of high intensity or stress. Although in the photo Pundit’s energy is flowing straight from us after something we have thrown, at the right moment a camera could just have easily captured that energy coming back to us at full speed and with the same full-on joy with which he leaves. I used Kevin Behan’s book to train Pundit as a puppy, starting with his recommended teaching of fetch with two balls, and once Pundit caught on, we never looked back. All of his energy for his whole life has been channelled into fetching and returning the ball and this has, as Kevin promised it would, made him an amazingly happy, stable, and outgoing dog, even though I am a lazy dog trainer and because we never had much trouble with Pundit I never bothered to teach him regular training things like heel.
Although Pundit would use his last ounce of energy to jump into the water any day, his days of such fantastic leaps are over; he is 12 years old now, and arthritis in his front legs leaves him barely able to walk some mornings. And we have a new dog, Cholula, who is young and beautiful and strong, but who is the opposite of Pundit in so many ways; inhibited where he is uninhibited, high strung and nervous outside, where Pundit is perpetually open and relaxed. Pundit has insisted on becoming my training partner for Cholula, eating half the hot dog pieces she gets on walks so she doesn’t attack other dogs, learning to bark on command while Cholula still just wrinkles her forehead and paws the ground. He is an old dog learning new tricks, while she is a young dog who is slow to shed her limitations. It’s so much better to be Pundit than Cholula! I hope it is not too late for my new dog, or myself, to learn from his spirit.