The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 10, 2014

Mike Pound: Rolled-up newspaper vs. yoga for training animals

— I walked into our family room where Shilo, our German shepherd, was sitting and looking out into the backyard in case a squirrel or rabbit strolled by.

“Would you ever consider trying yoga?” I asked.

“What?” Shilo asked back.

“Yoga?” I said.

“Are you asking me if I would ever consider playing catcher for the New York Yankees? If so, the answer is no, but I might try Molina,” Shilo said.

“Not Yogi,” I said. “Yoga.”

I had just come from my upstairs office after reading a story on Outside magazine’s website about horse yoga.

According to the article, the Doma India School in Argentina is using yoga to calm and train horses. When I told Shilo about the story, she made a strange face.

“I would hate to have to clean that yoga mat,” she said.

“But would you try yoga?” I asked again.

The article quotes the Doma India School website: “The method is to tame the horse according to its nature, avoiding (causing) fear and pain, and by earning their trust and loyalty.”

“I wish you had tried yoga with me instead of using that rolled-up newspaper,” Shilo said.

“I had to do something. You wouldn’t listen to me,” I said.

“Maybe you should have tried meditating with me,” Shilo said.

I told Shilo that accompanying the online story was a YouTube video of a trainer who got a horse to roll on its back, and then the trainer did a handstand on the animal.

“I can see how that could happen,” Shilo said.

“You can?” I asked.

“Sure, horses are stupid. They’re almost as dumb as cats,” Shilo said.

“But if horses are so stupid, how did the trainer teach it to roll on its back?” I asked.

“Please,” Shilo said. “I learned to roll over when I was 3 months old. Even Congress creatures know how to roll over.”

“Let’s get back to my original question. Would you ever try yoga?” I asked.

“That depends,” Shilo said. “Who’s teaching it?”

“What difference does that make?” I said.

“Well, if you’re teaching it, I don’t want to try it,” she said.

“Hey, I taught you to stay, didn’t I?” I pointed out.

“Wow. You taught a dog how to sit and not do anything. That’s like teaching a college football player how to get arrested,” Shilo said.

“I also taught you how to sit,” I said.

“News flash. I knew how to sit before you taught me. In fact, when you told me you were going to teach me how to sit, I remember thinking, ‘OK, but I’m already sitting,’” Shilo said.

“Then why did you go along with the training?” I asked.

“Why do I do anything you want me to do? For the treats, of course,” Shilo said.

“OK, let’s say someone you liked was teaching it,” I said. “Would you try yoga then? And if so, do you think it would make you mind better and be less afraid?”

“Afraid? Afraid of what?” Shilo asked.

‘I don’t know. Thunder, the doorbell, loud voices, your tail, the vacuum cleaner, and that high-pitched noise Emma makes that drives you crazy,” I said.

“I am not afraid of my tail,” Shilo said. “It’s just distracting.”

In the end, I gave up trying to get Shilo interested in trying yoga.

Sigh.

Oh well, thank goodness for rolled-up newspapers.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

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