SHARK! Manly Sea Aquarium, Manly. Sydney. September 2012.
Theme Thursday again and I am challenged by the theme of ANGELS. Well, I don't know any ANGELS and I'm not certain that I've ever met one. Which is why I've written a story, maybe it's a parable. Anyway, I call it Simon's Wife.
Simon’s wife often thought of Simon as she did the dog that she had as a young woman, a German shorthaired pointer named The Black Prince. Like The Black Prince, Simon was loyal energetic and enthusiastic. However, also like The Black Prince, Simon could be needy, aggravating, over familiar and often trailed a distasteful smell about him.
Helpfully, many of the skills and techniques that Simon’s wife applied to the day-to-day handling and management of The Black Prince were equally useful and applicable to Simon. Tone of voice, consistent and poised body language was critical. Whenever The Black Prince became a little too boisterous or even a little too frisky, Simon’s wife found a short sharp “NO!” and assertive posture usually pulled him into line. The same was certainly true for Simon.
The use of positive rewards rather than negative sanctions had also proven decisive in establishing control and limiting The Black Prince’s exuberance. Likewise Simon. It is all well and good dishing out a short firm smack on the nose if he’s getting disobedient, but as a mechanism for longer, sustainable behavioural change such measures were not useful for Simon or The Black Prince.
The most important factors at play here are consistency and discipline. It is no use setting expectations in such a way that one day jumping on the bed is allowable or acceptable if you let it happen the next without comment. No, Simon’s wife was not one to suffer fools gladly.
Of course, whether one is talking about German shorthaired pointers or husbands, there often comes a time where difficult decisions may need to be made. For example, Simon’s wife faced the very difficult choice when she was required to leave her small, provincial town (and 12-acre block with adjoining lake-front beach) to a large, metropolitan university campus in order to complete her legal studies.
When one has set high standards and rigorously applied the most useful form of structure and discipline to ensure the best behaviour for a German shorthaired pointer, it would have been cruel to abandon him to a far more haphazard and wayward existence. Thus, Simon’s wife made the only decision that a woman in her position could. It was quick, and The Black Prince did not suffer.
Just like Simon.