GRAEME SIMS for Golden Retriever - Italia
Alessandra asked me to write a short article about The Graeme Sims Method and why people should use it . It will be difficult because I am trying to describe a lifetimes work and the philosophy ,or attitude, that underpins it can be briefly described in three parts ,or stages.
First comes love,
We love the new dog first by some mysterious alchemy that we do not understand , then later, because of who they are . If we love them enough we begin to ask questions like “how can I give you all you need” How can I give you fulfilment? “ Then we study, we read ,we talk to other people who have the same breed and maybe the same problems . We learn what this particular breed was bred for and what motivates it or switches its lights on . We might visit a centre of excellence like the sniffer dog centre for airports to see just how potentially good our dog is . We learn as much as we possibly can and develop our knowledge and knowledge gradually evolves into empathy .
If we are more imaginative we look at the animal on our end of the lead as what one does affects the other. We put ourselves under the magnifying glass and ask are we really communicating in the best way?
When I say look at the breed I mean working examples of the breed not expo! I say this because your group Alessandra is one of the most popular breeds in the world and their beauty and all round happy natures might too easily hide why they were originally developed by intensive selection. I mean what motivates them ,mentally .
A short while ago I was involved in a seminar where there was a mixture of different breeds including a Golden Retriever ; when it was asked to systematically search a series of pots for minute pieces of food we saw all of its lights come on and the happy by nature dog suddenly showed its real ability and became focussed , more responsive and absorbed . it changed in front of our eyes and the transformation was very nearly instant . The Graeme Sims Method essentially tries to teach people that pushing water uphill is labour intensive and rarely successful whereas if you understand your dog the water will effortlessly flow downhill because your ‘training addresses the thing your dog enjoys most .
The human race suffers from an obvious weakness and this is an innate belief in its own superiority . The dog is not inferior but simply different . At seminars people always say “ I have a problem with my dog “ In ten years I have heard only one say “my dog has a problem with me “
We believe our dogs should be our willing partners not subjects who need to learn obedience . Over the thirty years we have developed this philosophy into a method that never addresses a problem directly but looks for a more imaginative and positive lateral thinking solution . Does it work ? Yes, it most certainly does! Can we explain it on the back of a postcard? No, we can’t.
Over a two day ,intense, seminar we can explain it sufficiently well for people to understand the principles . Interestingly the dog knows it in minutes but it is designed to make dogs free because they become much more responsive .
Behind every method there has to be a well tested philosophy ,or a belief system and this is influenced by many things ranging from childhood experiences ,people, things that are obviously wrong and even religion. Most religions insist that animals have no souls and that man is the creature selected by God to “have dominion over the animals” in other words man is superior to all other creatures. The Native American Indian had a quite different belief that can be summarised in the word “all things are connected”.
Let me show you some words written by Chief Seathl to the President in Washington in 1852 .
“So we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept I will make one condition. The white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.I am savage and I do not understand any other way. I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and I do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.
What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.”
“There is no quiet place in the white man’s cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring, or the rustle of an insects wings.
But perhaps it is because I am a savage and do not understand.
The air is precious to the red man, for all things share the same breath – the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath…The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh…”
This letter influences our attitude. The animals are different but equal; they most certainly are not inferior. We need to make as much effort to understand them as possible and not just use them to make us happy, Contentment is a two way street and both animals need to know it if the partnership is to be truly equal.
We have looked backwards rather than forwards and found the example in history. The Native American Indian understood nature because he lived in it . we are rapidly becoming disconnected from the real world and more attached to the electronic world.
Let me conclude this article with a verse from a chapter I wrote in a book many years ago …
It was called The letter from Paradise
“God made us with the same love and care he used to make you but , because we could not speak to you , you took our silence as inferiority . “