Action, Energy, and Honor in Ancient Rome

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“The whole praise of virtue lies in action.” – Cicero.

Let’s define action…

Action:  the process of doing something; typically to achieve an aim.

What are your actions today?  What is your chief aim?  What are your goals?  I can tell you with certainty that if you responded with a, “Not much” or some answer of that sort you will be bound to a life of “Not much” accomplishment!

Ancient Rome!

Let’s journey into the land of our imaginations for a moment and try and picture what life was like thousands of years ago in the city of Rome.  The ancient Romans were a people and a culture that loved and respected action.  They were always looking for a way to show kinetic energy.  The ancient Roman word for “soul” is directly linked to movement, energy, and action.  The word inertia in ancient Roman culture can be translated as “having no soul!”  What, I wonder, would many ancient Roman citizens think of our culture today?

Are you presenting yourself and your dog to society in the right way?  The question may seem a bit strange but manners, customs, and proper public conduct, or lack thereof, can cause the rise or downfall of great civilizations!  What do you think of your own personal energy?  Have you considered your personal energy and how and what it is spent on before?  Have you considered your energy levels in regard to communication with your dog or pup?  How is your dog’s energy in comparison with your own?  Can you raise or focus your energy or your puppies’ energy at will?  Can you calm and relax your energy and your pup’s energy?

Roman honor and their daily way of life was all about the actions one took.  They were extremely specific about how, when, and where they directed their energies.  In normal public life one went about showing strong energy which would in turn lead to many honorable feats and accomplishments.  Just imagine where the world would be without arches, aqueducts, concrete, battlefield surgery, newspapers, calendars, bound books, and roads and highways!  All were made possible due to Roman innovation through vigorous action!

If a Roman citizen lost their honor or were publicly shamed they had to work extremely hard and bring even more energy to every daily task.  Many even volunteered to be gladiators in an attempt to restore honor and showcase their extreme willingness to take real and tenacious action in gaining it back!

Here’s a little ancient Roman advertising for Alpha and Omega!

Gladiators that lost their match would actual expose their necks to the victor as a final sign of active courage and to show the iron will needed in order to gain back honor through their last action!  Wild stuff!

Are you taking extreme action to help prevent or fix your own dog or pup’s behavioral issues?  Are you feeling shame or public embarrassment when or if your dog freaks out and lunges or barks or snaps at another dog or person when you’re out and about?  Please remember…dogs are much more direct and honest than most humans you will ever meet!  Dogs don’t feel near the level of shame, humiliation, or embarrassment socially that you or I could feel.

If you haven’t seen this classic…please do so. This is a famous film about the story of a gladiator slave (Spartacus) who took Action in order to change his life and the lives of those around him!

Roman society also allowed for failure.  It was expected.  Failure and shame would happen to many and that is why they would work harder to redeem themselves through action and ferocious energy.  The cultural system as a whole was more flexible and honest than today’s careful, and cautious way to live.

We need to allow ourselves and our dogs to fail more often.  As you allow room for your dog or pup to fail you will find that mixing that failure by taking the right, natural, persistent actions to correct, calm or redirect the dogs will learn to be much more trustworthy in the long run.  Never forget that the mother and father dog allow a lot of room for growth and exploration and in this way they preserve their own precious energy.  In the long run you will have a much more relaxed control over your dog instead of the hyper (always be praising) constantly looking to reinforce behavior (typical training) sort of approach.  The typical training (always be praising) approach is waaaaaaaay more work on all involved and doesn’t ever pan out as well because it is not natural and it is wasting our energy!

If you double your rate of failure you will find success faster!  Think of how many times Thomas Edison failed when inventing the light bulb or how many shots Michael Jordan has missed etc etc…Never be afraid to fail.

There was always tension and then relaxation present in the ancient Roman’s life.  A natural cycle.  Like nighttime always comes at dusk tension and then calmness can be a very natural way to experience life.  Tension/pressure and then the calm releasing of said pressures are evident constantly in canine culture, energies, and body language! 

Predatory culture in the animal world focuses intense energy and takes direct action and then (usually after a kill) total relaxation.

Prey culture is different.  As a prey animal can be eaten they have to be constantly on alert in order to survive!

Roman culture was defined by tremendous activity and then relaxed passivity.  A society very much reminiscent of the dog that is sleeping the day away (passively) while you are at work until it is exploding with energy (actively) while sprinting across your yard after a ball!

Take action today.  Focus and direct your energy.  Live a life of honor.

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Slugs do Not play. Worms do Not play.

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Dogs DO play!  Playfulness is a defining characteristic in any intelligent animal. Play enlarges the mind. Play is discovery. Play is competitive. Play is learning.  And play is fun.

When I Google searched playfulness in intelligent animals (and other searches similar)  I found page after page filled with animals…but none of the searches were about dogs!  There were, of course, countless stories and clips about dolphins, elephants, crows and whales.  Then a few pages after that you can find pigs, river otters, more stories of dolphins and whales, and even stories on the intelligence of the octopus but not a one on wolves, dogs, or other canines.  What’s up with that?

Dogs are play masters (the gods of frolic) and I know they are one of the smartest creatures on earth.  You want proof.  Here’s my proof…the dog has traded the dangers of the brutal wild, the need to scrape by on the brink of starvation, fighting and flighting just to survive, to instead, lounge next to our hearth, our couch, or on a comfy Costco dog bed!  The dog gets fed each day like clockwork, and in general has it, “made in the shade.”  Doesn’t that imply the dog is brilliant?  Haven’t they won, so to speak, when it comes to the game of survival?  Don’t dogs use us, their owners, as tools or a means to their ends?  As humans we know we are smart because we dominate the planet and we build civilization but aren’t dogs right there with us?

Don’t talk to me about the intelligence of a pig when they are still living in the cold outdoors!  (sorry to all you rabid pig fans out there!)

The dog has won.  In fact, many scientists ie: nerds who come up with theories in very specific detail and then conduct experiments and tests to try and prove said theories.  (sorry to all you rabid scientist fans out there too!) have come to the conclusion that many wolves may have actually chosen to domesticate themselves! Talk about intelligence, that is a bold and daring choice.

Imagine leaving the wild to join up with a totally different species and by hanging out with that species you eventually get to eat some of their trash and left over food scraps.

It takes all the danger out of hunting much larger animals (which wolves do on a regular basis).  Leaving the wild and being in a state of perpetual youth (the state our domestic dogs are locked in due to us breeding them for calmness, playfulness, and working abilities over the years – neoteny) obviously can add health and longevity since the average life span of a wild wolf is only 6-8 years (and many die sooner).

Let’s get back to the topic of play as pertaining to smarts.  On a personal note, most of the smartest people I know tend to play and goof around quiet often.  They are quick-witted and easily thrive in a group setting.  (I am not talking about the rare genius who lacks all social skills because his brain is so different).  I’m talking about the people who become leaders in our world.   To live and survive in a social group (pack) you have to be intelligent.  Let’s go a step further and I think you’ll see why I hold the opinion that dogs are both outrageously smart and playful.

Have you ever gone to pet a dog and they pet you back?  I think we are all familiar with this.  You reach your hand down to stroke/pat the top of the dog’s head and instead of letting it happen that dog intercepts you with it’s nose, it’s tongue, light mouthing, pawing or jumping up. This is clear canine communication.  I see it quite often in my day-to-day work with dogs.   As friendly or excited as the dog may appear to be the dog is, in that exact moment, testing the social boundaries and attempting to determine or anticipate what behavioral pattern is going to happen next and what they can and cannot get away with from the person touching them.  Many dogs intercept our touch trying to one-up us, sort of a one-sided game, forcing us to play their way with their rules concerning their body and social spacing.

Next time you pet a dog watch for who is petting who first, or who gets the last touch.  It is fascinating to watch these interactions from the dog’s point of view.  There is something much deeper happening than just a surface, “Pet me.” going on in the brain of the animal.  And I know this because most dogs left unchecked in the touching department ie: dogs that spend their lives on top of us (our laps) or jumping on us, licking us, mouthing us, et cetera, soon become masters of manipulating rituals that surround us everyday and…they manipulate us perfectly (which leads to behavioral issues).

I’m getting off track again and this is for another post but please remember your dog is brilliant.  And if they aren’t learning rudimentary sits, downs, and the like maybe you should check your mirror for who is lacking in the intellectual department because your dog has trained you and certainly not the other way round.  But I’ll cut you some slack since you are reading this blog and if you follow this blog or continue to read it soon you may be just as clever and quick as the furry animal that slobbers on your pant legs.

“So what can I do”? you ask.

Find out in my next exciting post!  Garrett’s Five Steps to Perfecting Playtime with your Pooch.  To Be Continued………………………………………………………………………

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