Chal and I just returned from the Los Gatos Border’s Book/Dog Signing Event. We met around 30 people, of all ages, many kids. Chal greeted them as they approached our table. A few kids were scared of dogs and Chal, being that she is a large GS. But, Chal sat and lifted her paw, and the kids were able to gently pet her.
The store was having a sale on bunny rabbits, so I asked Chal to tell us (sign) what a stuffed bunny I held was. She signed TOY. I gave her a treat after she signed FOOD. She signed CHICKEN, LIVER, CHEESE, FOOD.
I explained some of the uses for dogs and humans of teaching dogs to sign:bonding, communication, enrichment, less frustration, service skills, and helper. Dogs can tell you more about what they are thinking. This helps dogs and human.
A dog can tell you why they bark. Say there is a fire and your dog runs barking at you. If your dog knew how to sign, s/he might do so and tell you FIRE.
I had Chal demonstrate her sign FIRE. I lighted a small match, blew it out and asked Chal ‘what’s that?’ and she said FIRE by spinning.
As people stopped by our table, we chatted. A language teacher was very interested the language development angle.
I discussed my book and how the core idea involves viewing dogs as language learners, capable of so much more expression than what they naturally know. If we would just spend more effort teaching them language (both how to understand us AND how to communicate back), their true potential will be known.
That is what K9Sign is all about!
Held the first of four classes on the Emotional Lives of Dogs at Cal State University, Monterey Bay. The participants (of varying professions from physics professors to veterinarians) learned about what emotion is, both the cognitive and non-cognitive aspects. We all explored exercises to try out with our own dogs regarding emotions–becoming more aware of our own emotions, and then our dogs’ emotions. It was a lively, very motivated group, with fabulous animals, that I can’t wait to meet.
Some were interested in AnimalSigning, so of course, I’ll be mentioning that.
The APDT Conference in Oakland, Ca was great, with many interesting speakers. As I sat at the author table (DogWise) I chatted with Charlene (the DogWise organizer) and other authors. Sitting next to me were the authors of Through a Dog’s Ear, Joshua Leeds and Lisa Spector. We exchanged works, and mutual support. Joshua expressed a phrase I hear often, that AnimalSigning is ‘revolutionary!’ He and Lisa are doing some fascinating work with the effect of sound/hearing (of music) in dogs.
Several participants chatted with me about signing, bought my book, and got a book signature. Some asked about doing workshops in their area (in other states).
The photographer from Marcus Photographs, hired by DogWise, took some pictures (which I will post on my new website coming in November).
After the conference, I drove around in my old neighborhoods in Berkeley and Rockridge stopping off at the MarketPlace near bart for some fabulous coffee and bakery goods. Not much has changed since the 90′s there.
Sunday, was at my booksigning at Clayton BookShop in Clayton, California. The shop was interesting and very friendly. With seats planned for about 12, my assistant Debbie counted almost 30 people (kids, male, female adults) standing room only. Chal was very subdued throughout, until she smelled the chicken I brought for her to demonstrate some food and toy signs. She livened up and signed away: Water, Liver, Food, Chicken, Chicken, Toy, Frisby!
People had many questions about signing, their dog communications, some wanted a workshop in the area, a DVD, and online groups. Yes! Coming Soon.
Will be back to the beautiful area in November for a short workshop at PetFoodExpress in Clayon, Ca. down the street.
On the way home, Debbie and I stopped off at the San Ramon Whole Foods, where we had spectacular diverse meal from the salad and hot food bar. Love Whole Foods!
Sept. I was the author of the month for Dogs Can Sign, Too. It was very interesting exchanging with many new readers, hearing about their dogs and communication. I’ll be starting the Yahoo AnimalSign Group in Nov and from my current (this one) a discussion group for signers to stay in touch and exchange stories, for me to comment on. Look also for the online seminars for personal advice on you and your signing.
Sept already has been very busy.
We completed a fabulous 3-day photo shoot with incredible equine photographer Charles Hilton www.charleshiltonimages.com.
Princess was at liberty and cooperative, but tired by the end of the session, she still wanted more.
A client with a mustang rescue was of particular interest to him, as he has taken incredible photos of wild mustangs. One group is in Ca at Dreamcatcher http://dreamcatcher.typepad.com/my_weblog/mustangs/
The mustangs have been rounded up and their herd is at risk.
Dogs Can Sign, Too. The new dog book is out, and going on the road to several bookstores to demonstrate signing with the new puppy StarLight (BC). Chal gets to show locally, StarLight is for on the road, at least now.
Workshop in Carmel at TheRawConnection occurring at the end of the month. Always exciting to meet new people, with their own reasons for expanding communication.
Working closely with Pastel, who loves to move a lot! She is very interested in FelineSign and offers behaviors, in her curiousity.
Horses and dogs have been learning to sign in increasing numbers, and when they learn to communicate better, they run with it!
These last few months have been very busy for the center.
*CSUMB in Ca. has hosted classes in AnimalSigning for Canine Wellness, and will be having me teach Canine Biology and Behavior, and The Emotional and Communicative Lives of Dogs in the Fall, 2009.
*Signing Socials in Carmel, Ca. have started where signers come to share stories about their pets communications, and I help them move past challenges.
For dogs: Random House will be releasing the new book with 25 signs for dogs. The book is Dogs Can Sign, Too!
For horses: Storey Press will release EquineSign (with 40 signs for horses) in the fall of 2010.
Development and Research:
In the last years, I have been refining alternative forms of communication to expand signing to fit all dog preferences. Most dogs love to sign (esp. the first 10 signs), since they gesture naturally, but others want additional choices too. I’ve developed alternative special methods (specialized signs, pointing/targeting to communicate, which I teach adapting to each individual dog. This is so fulfilling for us all. Turns out as with humans (who use many methods of communication) dogs should have choices too (signing, choosing, pointing, vocalizing, etc.).
Having worked with deaf, blind, and fearful dogs it is clear that as they learn to K9Sign they are more open to trusting and interacting faster than with some other methods. Their motivation to trust increases. Watching the transformation from fear to desire to communicate is heartwarming.
I’d be very interested in your remarkable stories of communication from dog to you.
Events: For those who can’t come to workshops, I now do tele-seminars on Signing. Hope you can get the information you need to expand communication.
Signing Off, for now.
As more dogs and horses sign, stories emerge. A new Yahoo AnimalSigning group will open : K9Signing and EquineSigning…look or it this December!
I offer classes in AnimalSigning at CSUMB Extension. In my most recent class at CSU Monterey Bay the signing dogs are finding their voice with paw moves. A poodle mix learned signs very quickly, first food, then toy; another very obedient retriever learns to sign while playing, rather than during givign of obedience behaviors, a puppy boxer thinks moving his eyes back and forth and learns very fast to sign for food. Each dog has their own way and path.