For the Asking

For the Asking

Huw Le Lytle answers all your questions in his column of wit and wisdom, For the Asking!

Whether you have a question about romance, the dog park, the latest toys, or the weather …

Huw’s for the asking!

BY Huw Le Lytle

In this week’s questions …

Rain or Shine, and

Fight or Flight or Come to Light


Q: Dear Huw, what’s the best thing to do on a sunny and rainy day? Also, how do you deal with stressful situations? – Kay, Coventry, UK

A: Dear Kay, thank you for your thoughtful questions.

IMG_3050For your first question, do you mean sunny and rainy all at once? That certainly does happen. Human often talks about sun showers, and these really are quite remarkable – even for a Bedlington who doesn’t do rain. When it rains through the sun it is quite lovely and sparkly, and usually it stops quite quickly, and everyone dries almost straight away. So really, it is like getting a refreshing spritz at a fancy spa.

But when it comes to proper rain, well, then I dig my heels in. Literally. I am not one for the rain. I find it quite miserable and cold. And I abhor getting my feet wet. So when it’s raining, I usually like to catch up on my sleep. And then, if I’m feeling energetic, I like to start an indoor game of silly hour and sofa zoomies. This is usually sufficiently exuberant for me then to require another sleep very soon thereafter. Our favourite places in rainy weather are the Lookout Library (where I do a lot of my thinking, which looks a lot like sleeping, but honestly I’m thinking) and the Wreck Room (which is where we watch a lot of our shows and where we have ample space for sofa zoomies).

IMG_3450And when it’s sunny, well, it almost goes without saying that the best places in the sunshine are the park and the roof. I love rooftop silly hour. I know a lot of people like to go to the beach, but I am less keen on the beach. I think it might be a water thing. But Jeff, as you may know, loves the beach and likes to put on his red swimsuit (harness actually) and take to the waves. So I get a lot of pleasure out of seeing him so happy. And then he always joins me on the beach for zoomies along the shore, which is quite agreeable, as I don’t have to get my feet wet.

Your second question is an important one. Dealing with stressful situations is tricky. I guess my first thought would be to ask what the source of the stress might be and whether you can avoid it or change it. For instance, I don’t like shiny shop floors, so Human carries me. Do you have someone who can carry you if you don’t like shiny shop floors? I also don’t much care for trains, but I like to get to the destination. Once again, Human carries me.

I guess what this means is that you need a support system, no matter what the stress might be. Close family and friends are the essential ingredients for happiness. Everyone should have someone who will be there to carry them over shiny shop floors.

But sometimes, a stressful situation may actually mean other individuals. Sometimes I meet a dog who won’t take no for an answer. Sometimes I sit down for these situations. I don’t lose my cool. I just ignore them. And sometimes we might come across someone who isn’t so nice to their dogs. Once, when we were walking in the park, there was a dog walker with lots of dogs and one climbed on my back. He wasn’t bothering me. He was just playing around and I was bouncing happily along with the games. I didn’t even sit down! But his dog walker threw a set of keys or something jingly at him. We were all very shocked at this behaviour from the dog walker and really worried for the little dog. And Human was quite upset as it might have hit me or scared me. But the best thing for us to do was to keep walking. Human said I was the priority and a discussion on training methods with the dog walker was not as important in that moment as getting me out of the way. Another time a little dog wandered away from a dog walker and followed me for a play. When he wouldn’t come back the dog walker stormed over, hit the little dog and pinned him to the ground and then hit him again. That time Human did say something. Anyway, now if we see them in the park, we walk the other way.

But sometimes you can’t avoid difficult individuals. Sometimes they are part of your job or your everyday life. I have heard humans talk about bullies. Unlike how it sounds, these are not cute little bulls. They are someone who wants to overwhelm you with what they want and they don’t mind walking over the top of you to get it.

A lot of people say stand up to bullies. But I do not necessarily recommend this. If you stand up to a bully, it would be like me turning around and growling at a dog that won’t leave me alone. All it does is talk to the bully on the bully’s terms. It gives a justification for that way of behaving, rather than a revelation of an alternative path. And things can escalate from there.

IMG_4295So I tend to fight fire with flowers. Instead of growling at a bully, I give them a smile they don’t expect. Or I find something to play about. It’s a bit like finding a point on which you can both agree. It will surprise the bully. And it means you are interacting in a completely different way.

Kindness isn’t weakness. Many people make that mistake. And I even see this in dog training debates. There are some pretty awful methods and devices out there to make people’s lives easier, but they make dogs’ lives riskier. Just because someone does your bidding doesn’t mean they are happy. Just ask anyone who is bullied. No, kindness isn’t weakness. Kindness is strength. You have to be strong to be able to meet a bully with a smile, rather than inadvertently reinforcing the problem by behaving the same way they are. Whether it’s the obsessive dog or the nasty person, someone, somewhere has reinforced the behaviour. Standing up to the behaviour with the same behaviour just perpetuates the problem.

You can’t “bully” a solution out of anyone. That just creates two bullies. You have to look for a doorway to finding something in common. Sometimes they are interested in alternatives. And sometimes you just have to walk away. But you don’t ever have to go on the attack.

And of course, the ultimate tools to deal with any stressful situation are cheese and family. One should never have to walk across a shiny floor if one doesn’t want to. It’s ok to be carried.


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