The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Think Like A Dog

Isn’t it in the very nature of parables and intuitions that sometimes they are framed up in the oddest ways?

Now I’d like to aver at the outset, that THE world really is akin to that never ceasing and random quantum soup that Nobel Prize winning neurophysiologist Sir John Eccles referred to in his famous quote.
It is all out there beyond the limits of our perceptual apparatus. And, of course, part of the way we use that apparatus is to endeavour to make sense of the world for ourselves. We apply make-up to the world because we can; because we’re worth it – as the phrase goes.

Match Preparation
One of the less than savoury elements of the home match preparations for our rugby club is to remove canine faecal matter from the field of play. Our field is a community open space and it is in the selfish nature of some – though not all – local dog owners, to use the rugby pitch as a free range dog toilet.

However, I am not here to rant at this local version of man’s inhumanity to man, but merely to frame the scene.
This particular week, our exceedingly willing ball-boy was sent out with the bucket and shovel to see what he could find. Meanwhile, I’d set up our team’s warm-up equipment at the far end of the field, and I noticed him walking around and casting his attention hither and thither.

Eventually he came down to where I was, saying, “I saw some earlier but now I can’t find it anywhere. It’s so annoying, because I know it’s there somewhere.” I had some time on my hands, so I walked back down the other end of the field with him by way of being a helpful and extra “pair of eyes” in his search for the dark (and foul-smelling) matter.
On the way I looked at him straight-faced and said, “Of course the best way to search is to think like a dog.”
As he looked at me his jaw hung slightly open as if he couldn’t quite believe what he had just heard. “Think about it,” I continued. “Part of why you haven’t been able to find it is because you’ve been thinking and looking like a human. But this is dog business, so think like a dog and you’ll find it.” A smile began to creep across his face because by now he was probably thinking I was joking. “No, seriously,” I said. “A dog doesn’t just go anywhere does it? It wanders around, and then selects the right spot. It’s a canine thing – so let’s think and look ... like a dog.”
And then, in a moment where my “weirdness” ranking in his eyes must have gone up to that of a Grand Master, we saw what he’d been looking for. It was literally seconds after he’d directed us to the general area where he thought it was. “See how easy it is when we change our thinking!” I said.


In the midst of this comedy moment, I felt a sense of cosmic magic and profound intuition. It was similar to discovering those ‘lost’ car keys or spectacles right where they had always been – there right under or at the end of our nose! It’s the same as a great detective solving the whodunit by understanding the criminal mind that perpetrated the scheme of things.

And the fascinating answer with this particular case is, quite literally, down to our thinking versus canine thinking, which gives us all the clues we ever need to know about our problems, issues, conundrums and eventual solutions. It ‘s all in our thinking!

One of my favourite TV programmes is The Dog Whisperer, where hapless owners bring their problem pooches to canine psychologist Cesar Millan. His results with the dogs are rapid, and then the fun begins as he sets about educating the owners in changing their thinking, habits and behaviour. However, the rapidity of his Whispering with the dogs is that he understands what is happening for them, from a canine perspective, and directs all his attention to making that better.
The other thing I know from all this is the impact on one particular young and impressionable human mind – because I’ve worked with enough young impressionable human minds to know that nothing I say or do ever goes unnoticed. Even though what he was originally looking for, armed with bucket and shovel, really was unnoticed!

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