Love at First Sight




“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
~ Albert Einstein

He failed all the tests. There was no eye contact, and he didn’t even want to face me. When I approached him, he tried to hide and when I took his leash, he went into a panic. When I tried to touch him, he recoiled in horror. He wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. This was how I first met my dog Bodhi. It was love at first sight.

There is too much reliance these days on temperament tests, compatibility analysis and behavior checklists, and not nearly enough on intuition and chemistry. Every week I read about better methods of temperament testing and “new and improved” behavior analysis. Unfortunately, when we decide to add a dog into our lives, less and less emphasis is put on “love at first sight,” our initial visceral feelings. We are told over and over to think with our heads and not our hearts, but is this really sound advice? Is this the best way to begin and develop a deep friendship?

When two people meet and a friendship forms, I seriously doubt that each of them puts the other through a series of questionnaires or tests to see if they would be a good match, yet we are expected to do this with our dogs. And while I do believe that preparation and intellectualizing has merit, there needs to be more acceptance and openness to feeling and emotion when we decide to befriend a dog. After all, that’s how our dogs decide to be friends with us. They don’t use checklists, they only their hearts.

“Whoever loves, loves at first sight.” ~ Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

One reason for the over-emphasis on analysis is fear. This fear paralyzes us and can prevents a great relationship from developing. Fear that we will make the wrong choice, fear that our companion won’t be perfect (whatever that means), fear that the relationship won’t work out. Temperament tests are fear-based. Intuition, on the other hand, is based on faith. It is freeing and empowering. This faith is in yourself, faith in your dog, and faith in the completely natural friendship that humans and dogs have enjoyed for thousands of years. And although “going with your gut” has become out of vogue these days, I think it’s an extremely powerful way of creating a friendship.

Everyone has the ability to make sound decisions based on feelings, and there are a few ways to help increase your power of intuition. The first is to take time everyday to silence your mind. We are bombarded with information, instructions and advise from everywhere. The noise, often contradictory, can be deafening. No wonder it is difficult to listen to our inner voices. Silence your mind by practicing mindfulness. This doesn’t have to be done by sitting like a pretzel and humming. It can be done by immersing yourself in any activity – washing dishes, weeding the lawn, etc. Once you begin to quiet down all the chatter in your mind, you’ll be amazed at how intuitive you can be. You can really trust your own feelings.

Another way is to have a childlike view of things. Recapture that sense of childlike wonder. When you meet a dog, rather than using adult logic, try to imagine how you would have felt as a child meeting this dog. Does it make you feel good? Uneasy? Your inner child is smarter and wiser that you think. Trust her.

I am not suggesting that all decisions should be capricious and arbitrary. The best thing to do is use your intuition as your first method of decision, and then add in some logic to fill in the gaps. Trusting your feelings can make the difference between just “owning a pet” and achieving kenzoku (a deeply connected friendship) with your dog.

I am happy to say that Bodhi, who has been with us for six months, and I have become great friends. He is affectionate, connected to me, and loves life. I couldn’t imagine life without him. If I had only filled my head with checklists and logic and didn’t act on feelings in my heart, I would have missed this amazing relationship.

“Ideas are clean. They soar in the serene supernal. I can take them out and look at them, they fit in books, they lead me down that narrow way. And in the morning they are there. Ideas are straight – 
But the world is round, and a messy mortal is my friend. 
Come walk with me in the mud…”
~ From Notes to Myself by Hugh Prather ~


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Author: Path of Friendship™

Corey Cohen is an animal behaviorist, mindfulness and emotional intelligence instructor with over 33 years of helping people connect to their dogs on a deeper level. His unique Mindfulness-Based Animal Behavior Therapy™ and his Path of Friendship™ programs are inspiring alternatives to standard dog training. His mindfulness seminars for individuals, universities, wellness centers, and top corporations has helped reduce stress and anxiety and given people a fresh perspective on life. He is the owner of A New Leash on Life Animal Behavior Services in Northeastern PA and Northern NJ. He’s also the owner of Awakenings Meditation in Northeastern PA.

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