Building Community with Our Dogs

I, like so many other people, have lived through a catastrophic weather event in the last year. In southern California, our event was the largest fire in California history followed several weeks later by a massive mudslide that affected our community so deeply. Volunteers in our community have created “The Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade” that meets every Saturday and Sunday.

Every weekend for the foreseeable future, many hundreds of us spend our time removing an unbelievable amount of mud from peoples’ homes. The mud is smelly, moldy, wet, heavy and roughly three feet deep. We go in with shovels, buckets, and wheelbarrows, and move the mud from inside the house to outside the house where larger machinery can pick it up and move it out.

When people ask me why I choose to spend my time in this way, my response is that I believe that we are responsible for creating the communities in which we live. I want to live in a community in which we know our neighbors, we care deeply about how they are doing, and we reach out to one another whenever help is needed.

I think the same thing about our families, including the dogs in our lives. When we bring a dog home, whether it’s a puppy or an older dog, they become part of our family. Among the first things a new dog needs is a way to become a valued family member. It is our responsibility to teach them how to fit in and what we expect of them as family members. Basic obedience training is a way in which we assist puppies and dogs in becoming a valued member of our community. Well trained dogs can become integral parts of our lives, families and our communities.

I train dogs because I believe that every dog and family is happier when they are able to positively experience the community around them. A well-trained dog is a happy dog, and we all love interacting with well-trained, happy dogs.