My Story, or How I Settled on Dogs
I was 26 years old and had just started studying art in Amsterdam—and I had a dog phobia. One day, on the way home, I experienced another anxiety reaction to a fox terrier. Devastated, I sat in my study and saw the situation pass before my mind´s eye again. Just what could I do about it?
Suddenly, I had a brilliant idea. Why not simply paint the fear away? After all, painting is an expressive kind of therapy.
The next day I checked the public library for all available books on dog breeds. First I borrowed reading material on Rottweilers, Dobermans, and Dalmatians. The list was long. Three weeks later, there was a young Rottweiler looking up at me from my sketchpad. I wanted to portray him as aggressive and frightening. Instead, I created a curious dog whose look and stance invited me to play with him. The same thing happened with all the other dogs I painted. The Irish Setter, which in my phobic imaginings would do nothing but lie in wait for human victims, like a wild beast at the edge of the forest, on canvas appeared graceful and imbued with the harmony with nature. I painted virtually every breed of dog, but again and again, the image of fear transformed itself into an image of curiosity.
Since 2008, our Greek Hound Rocky has lived with me and my partner. He has taught me many things, and he too is constantly learning. Our Irish wolf dog Zozo and our mongrel Mikroula showed me what teamwork was all about—whether to our joy or our displeasure. Since then, I’ve combined my love for dogs with my knowledge of dog training. It’s so much fun when our four-legged friend does what I want and not vice versa. At the same time, the dog should be happy, because if my dog isn’t happy, neither am I.
Coaching techniques can help us to recognize and transform our emotions. This applies not only to our own personal and professional situations but also to our relationship with our beloved paw friends. “What do I really want?” or “What does my dog really want?” are helpful questions.
The stories of my book grew out of both personal observation and other people’s anecdotes.
I wish you lots of fun!