The Best Teachers
How to cite: Barata, R. (2019). The Best Teachers. Human-Animal Science.
I want to share two specific moments in my career so far. I hope you enjoy them.
For two main reasons, I avoid publishing situations we humans persist in calling behavioral problems. First, respect the human family's privacy and free them from possible (virtual) social exposure and criticism. Second, over these years, I have dealt with different cultures and professional experiences that make me publish only satisfying situations.
That is my (virtual) approach. Yes, I know how it works with the current tendency of advertising severe problems for commercial purposes. I respect and, somehow, understand it, but I don’t want to do it. I show some of the cases in my seminars and courses only.
However, I always make an exception with this specific situation (cover photo on the left) because it is an excellent example of how the human family’s dedication saved this 9-year-old dog (in 2013) from the “killer” tag and removed him from the death row. This situation confirmed what I have defended since I started my professional career almost two decades ago: Changes go through the family itself. There are no magic formulas without the family's commitment, and each case needs to be treated individually, without guarantees of results, turn-key training, “quick fix,” or other illusions.
No, we are not heroes or seers with easy solutions. We are technicians, with sound scientific and empirical knowledge, both in theory and practice, with a lot of professional investment and personal sacrifice. When we communicate with a different species, we are translators who try to transmit the message to the members of our species, so we understand that other species communicate differently.
With almost two decades in this work, I am convinced to confirm that it is much more than training. We are permanent students.
I am almost sure he is no longer among us, but he will always have his human family and me that will make him eternal. Every day I witness complicated situations, and in these situations, he still comes to my mind.
A military teacher
When I joined the Air Force 14 years ago, I already had a few years of working with (civilian) dogs (the so-called ‘old school’), and I thought I knew everything. I was wrong.
Holly (cover photo on the right) was one of the best teachers I’ve had in my life. One of ‘advice’ was the need to learn more and more to understand him.
After leaving AF and returning to the civilian world, new teachers remind me of Holly’s teachings.
We don’t know everything. We will never know.
But there is one thing I’m sure of, they leave us a little of them, and they take a little of us.
This photo makes 11 years at this date, and I still have a little of you, Holly. I miss you wherever you are.
I also miss all my previous canine teachers and their families. All of you have a little detail I missed in others and new learning with your human families. I hope all is ok with you.
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