Talk and Listen

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Last week I visited my dentist, the one who made my Krav Maga mouthguard. That lovely mouthguard is of clearly superior quality to anything I’ve had before, and he came highly recommended by my Krav Maga instructor, so I went back to him to get a night guard (TMJ splint) made. The man’s a real expert, as most professional martial artists can tell you. He knows how a mouthguard should be made, he’s got the degree and the training, and he makes it right. He has expertise, and I’m always intrigued by experts, whatever their field.

He began by explaining to me the process he used to make my nightguard, and why it produced a mouthpiece that will really help my TMJ. And he seemed genuinely surprised that I remembered all the details from when I got my Krav Maga mouthguard. Apparently, most people don’t pay attention? Hey, if I pay an expert for their time, I’m going to listen to them. That’s why I’m paying them - so I don’t have to be the expert.

I’ve always believed in taking advice from experts, and learning from other people’s mistakes. Honestly, I’m pretty ecstatic when an expert chooses to take some time and share a little of their expertise with me. I find it fascinating. Maybe it comes from being a youngest child. If my oldest sister tried something, say for a 5th grade project, and it didn’t work, and then my brother tried it the next year, and it didn’t work, and then my other brother tried it three years later, and it didn’t work, why would I try the same thing when I hit 5th grade? Craziness. I’ve seen that wall, and it didn’t move for the last three people who beat their head against it. I like my skull, so I’m thinking I’ll look for a door, instead, thanks anyway…

Now I bet you’re wondering why you’re looking at all of these pictures of my dogs. Note that these are not just random pictures. These are pictures of my dogs being very good, on leash, even though they’re completely stoked about being at dog beach and desperate to plunge into the ocean. This here is what we call “photographic evidence”.

So anyway, I ran into a guy walking his dog yesterday morning. Well, to be honest, the dog was walking him. Apparently he remembered me, although I couldn’t place him to save my life. According to him, about a year ago he asked me how to get his dog to walk well on leash. I get a lot of similar questions, because my dogs are really well trained. Personally, I consider that training an investment in peace, and peace of mind. And, you know, I train them to walk well on leash because I dislike having my shoulder dislocated on a daily basis.

I’m a huge Dog Whisperer fan - talk about an expert! And Cesar Millan recommends a weighted bag for dogs who pull. My younger dog carries 10 lbs in a doggie backpack on a regular basis. You see, if they’re carrying something, they find it a lot harder to pull on the leash. They don’t multi-task well, and that’s a lot to think about. And if they still pull with the bag on, then pop a ball or a toy in their mouth. Now they’re out of brain cells - none left to remember to pull!

So this guy is quite excited to tell me that I recommended a dog backpack and that he bought one. Although obviously he’s not using it. And then he regales me with tales of how “bad” that dog turned out to be, and how he had to get rid of it. So I gently pointed out the warning signs that his new dog needs training. You know, the subtle things, like the fact it’s hopping along like a kangaroo on its back two legs straining at the end of the leash. And how it’s jumping on everyone it can reach, and intimidating other dogs. Mind you, this isn’t a chihuahua we’re talking about. This is a Husky. He’s not going to win a tug-of-war on leash with this guy. I’m also quick to point out that I’m no expert, and I suggest he might want to watch The Dog Whisperer to pick up some tips.

“I don’t believe in all that crap. It’s all complete bunk. He’s just putting that on - it’s not real!” Um, OK. Well, obviously the way you’re doing it is working sooooo well. So, by all means, call the expert names. That will make you look better.

Now there was a point in my life where I would have stayed and earnestly tried to explain to this guy why Cesar Millan truly is an expert, and why his methods work. I can get quite passionate, almost evangelical, about things I believe in. But you know what? I can see that there brick wall. Looks just like a lot of other brick walls I’ve seen in my life. And I just don’t have any urge to pound my head against it.

So I excused myself and ambled home. Hey, it was a beautiful, cool morning. I had jewelry to make, breakfast to eat, green tea to drink. What a gorgeous day! And my opinions? I’ll just save those up. Someday, I’ll get that question again. From someone who talks and listens.