Parade Magazine recently had a sweet short story by Jon Katz about how he gained his way into the heart of his girlfriend by winning over her dog.
Parade Magazine recently had a sweet short story by Jon Katz about how he gained his way into the heart of his girlfriend by winning over her dog. This accomplishment is tried by many but not always successfully. Dogs seem to know whom the good people are and are not easily bribed or fooled into behaving otherwise. .
Katz is not a novice in the area of knowing and understanding the nature of dogs. He is the author of several books telling of his personal experiences with dogs he has owned and loved along the way. In this situation, Katz, 60 years old, was living alone on his remote farm in New York after a divorce, hoping for a second chance at happiness. He had fallen in love with Maria, an artist who was renting his barn for her studio.
Maria's dog, a Rottweiler-shepherd mix named Frieda, was fiercely protective of her. She went into a frenzy whenever Katz approached the barn, barking ferociously and throwing her body against the door. Frieda had had a terrible life before Maria rescued her from a shelter. The dog originally had been dumped by her owner near the New York State Thruway because she was pregnant. She spent several years on her own in the wild. When she appeared at a college campus, she was trapped and taken to the shelter. Frieda remained in the shelter for several months before Maria adopted her. Katz wrote, "They were the perfect pair, the human-canine version of Thelma and Louise, united in their devotion to each other and in their great distrust of men."
As the relationship between Katz and Maria intensified and they were spending more time together, Frieda was so threatening to him and his own dogs that she had to stay in the barn. Katz wanted to marry Maria but knew that the issue with Frieda had to be resolved first. He bought $500 worth of beef jerky and every morning he would open the barn door just enough to toss a piece in. Over the months, he was able to enter the barn, dispensing the jerky while Frieda growled at him. Eventually he was able to leash her and go for walks as Frieda slowly became more accepting of him. Katz wrote, "His goal was to get her into the house by Christmas, as a surprise for Maria, evidence of my commitment and good faith." They made great progress but Katz still was concerned that bringing Maria into the house would risk the welfare of his other dogs. One night he had a dream. He and the dog were walking in the Adirondacks and she ran ahead. When he got to the end of the trail, she was waiting for him. He asked "What do I have to do to get through to you?" and a voice said, "Trust me." The dream had a huge impact on Katz and his attitude toward Frieda. He realized that this was the one thing he had not done.
On Christmas Eve, he decided it was time and walked Frieda across the road from her barn to the farmhouse. He opened the door and held his breath. His dogs all stared as Frieda walked over to the wood stove and lay down beside it…and that was it. When Maria came home, she was overwhelmed with joy at the sight. They married and everything was peaceful and remained so from that day on. Trust can be a powerful motivator…and a little beef jerky helps!
The concept of "love me, love my dog" has been around for centuries. In my research, I found that St. Bernard of Clairvaux, in the 12th Century noted a common proverb: "Qui me amat, amet et canem meum", who loves me, also loves my dog. Another example: in 1775, "Miss Jane Bowles" a painting by well-known artist Joshua Reynolds became popularly known as "Love me, love my dog" because it depicted a beautiful child embracing her dog.