Wednesday, February 24, 2010

If I Was King

If I was King in a bygone era, a being of supreme worth, I would compel my subjects to do as I wished. They would fetch me drink, clean the castle, and repel intruders. If they refused my edict or showed hesitation to comply, I would deliver correction, swift and sure, for a King suffers no disobedience or disrespect. As the all-powerful, dominant authority, the King would not ask inferiors or make suggestions; The King would command.

Commanded subjects are powerless. Stripped of their rights, their actions are not their own. Their thoughts and feelings are dismissed. They are ordered to move here and there, do this and that, at the whim of the autocrat who rules them. Interestingly, the “command,” an edict of absolute power – of demanding, ordering, requiring and controlling – has come to describe human-to-canine communications. How did that happen?

“Command” is one of a family of words that traces its roots to the ownership and subjugation of living human property. It is not a word that implies partnership or willing cooperation. It doesn’t inspire compassionate consideration of a being's mental and emotional reality, their right to choose or to self express. It is used when they have no rights or can’t be trusted to willingly comply. This single word - command - can lead us to impulsive acts of domination and control.

English writer and poet Rudyard Kipling considered words “the most powerful drug used by mankind.” Linguists and scientists agree. Words are more than mere building blocks of sentences; they determine the nature and content of our thoughts. They unconsciously induce and compel us to certain actions; they change our emotional states. Inextricably tied to the concepts they embody, words are translated by the brain and heart into electromagnetic energy patterns. These patterns have been shown to immediately affect everything within the measurable vicinity. They produce either chaotic, incoherent patterns of energy or harmonious ones. As you may have guessed, the word “command” creates chaos.

The communications we give to dogs are usually in the form of a visual or sound signal - a cue or a prompt. These words have the feeling of a suggestion or a request. Instead of commanding dutiful submission, we ask for willing compliance and this simple change establishes partnership. It affirms our truest natures, our deep affection for dogs, and the dog’s right to a creative experience of life. The word ask creates harmony.

The King is dethroned!

1 comment:

Marilyn Wolf, BS, CPDT-KA said...

I try to bring my students into "cue" during the course of a class, too. I usually don't even mention that I'm doing it, I just keep using it over and over.