Dear friends,

Having received a message from my brother Russel Meyer about the way his father behaved with his dog, I cannot resist publishing it on my website.

Hi Bruno,
I have been a fan of Cesar Milan and yourself for some time. Your advice on living with dogs is really useful to me, and I enjoy reading your mails.
While feeding my dogs a few days ago, I was struck by how much I had learned from my dad, and how wise he has been in living in harmony with his dog. I don’t hold up my dad as the ideal dog owner, and some of his practices may not be the ideal way to raise a dog. However, I can tell you lots about how he lived in harmony with his dog. I would like to share this with you:
My fathers dog was named Chaka, named after a fierce Zulu king. He was a thorough-bred Alsatian (German Shepherd), which came into our family just after I was born. My father says my brother and I played very roughly with Chaka – we pulled his tail, rode on him as if he was horse, and he endured all with stoic calm. He was so protective of us that when my dad needed to spank us he had to lock Chaka away, or else he would continually push my dad away. But, there were several occasions when he protected us from burglars, when was very, very fierce.
My dad had a few rules that were never broken:

1. He never allowed Chaka into the house, unless he called him, and then never in the bedrooms and never on couches or chairs. He always said: “a dog’s place is outside the house”

2. He always said (and still does): “I trust my own dog and another dead dog”, so he would never touch or pet another dog, even when invited

3. He never encouraged anyone to touch Chaka -if they did he always said: “you take your chances when you do that; he wont harm you while I am here, but if you do that when I am not here, watch out”. Few people ever touched Chaka, none did so after he growled at them

4. Whenever my dad walked Chaka, it was without a leash. And I never once heard my dad shout at Chaka – he didn’t have to, Chaka stayed at his left leg throughout the walk

5. We grew up poor so we couldn’t afford the best dog food. We bought what we could afford – and my dad’s daily ritual was too rinse out all the pots and pour the gravy and food bits over the dry food. I don’t know how healthy that was, but Chaka had a beautiful coat and he lived a long, healthy life.

At the age of 14yrs Chaka had arthritis and was suffering badly. A vet suggested we put Chaka down to end his suffering. My dad could not get himself to do it, until one day Chaka could not even get up anymore. He just laid and wagged his tail.

My dad never owned a dog again – he said, “I have already had the best dog anyone could ever ask for”. I think they were best example of canine / human friendship I have ever seen. And I try to practice what I have learnt from my dad.
He may not have known the best way to care for a dog, but it was enough.

Kind regards,

Russel Meyer

HR Business Partner: Sub-Saharan Africa
Tullow South Africa (Pty) Ltd
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