I am not a very good listener. I consider myself an interruptive listener. Of course, I have an excuse for this – I am old. If I don’t share what is on my mind immediately, I forget what I was going to say, and sometimes what I was going to say was really good or I think it was really good. I make an attempt to do all those things one is suppose to do to be a good listener: 1. Quiet Your Mind – I try so hard to clear my mind of stressful thoughts and think of only what the speaker is saying. BUT my mind is going 100 miles a minute and I am thinking about what I am going to do next. 2. Look at the Speaker – I am very good at this WITHOUT listening. There are times when I have been a participant in professional development in which the subject is something I have heard at least twenty times. I am an expert at making eye contact, shaking my head, and smiling, but it doesn’t mean I am listening. 3. Focus – Really? Isn’t that the same as quieting your mind and looking at the speaker? See, I am not even a good listener when I am doing the “talking”!
I have a new favorite book. I know, I know, I say every book is my favorite. Every time I read a book to a class I begin by saying, “This is my favorite book, no, really it is, I’m not kidding!” I say it so much that now all I have to say is, “This,” and the class will finish with, “Is my favorite book, no, really it is, I’m not kidding!” I want the reader to know that this new favorite book has worked its way right next to my all time favorite, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. This new fave has ridden on a wave of books written from a dog’s point of view: A Dog’s Life: The Autobiography of a Stray by Ann M. Martin, A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron AND here it comes, wait for it . . . . . Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog by Garth Stein.
Racing in the Rain is a special adaptation for young readers of Garth Stein’s original title, The Art of Racing in the Rain. I came across this book at our book fair. I have a tendency to sit and read and buy all the chapter books at the book fair. I was working the book fair late one night and I picked up the book for something to do. While I was reading this book I wanted to read it to someone out loud. The next day I even went to a fifth grade class and asked the teacher, if I could read the first chapter to her class. Racing in the Rain is the story of a Dog, Enzo, whom belongs to a racecar driver and his family. Enzo believes that when he dies he will come back as a man. Like Edward, I learned so much from Enzo, the dog! Throughout the book, I have placed sticky notes to signify places of learning about life. One of my stickies is placed where Enzo explains how important it is to listen like a dog:
Here is why I will be a good person. Because I listen. I cannot speak, so I listen very well. I never interrupt, I never change the course of the conversation with a comment of my own. People, if you pay attention to them, change the direction of one another’s conversations constantly. It’s like having a passenger in your car who suddenly grabs the wheel and turns you down a side street. Learn to listen, I beg of you. Pretend you are a dog like me and listen to other people rather than steal their stories.
Thanks, Enzo, I have made a commitment to listen like a dog.
I highly suggest the reader read all three books written from a dog’s point of view. I also, strongly suggest the reader purchase a box of tissues and a pad of stickies along with the books. Put on a comfy pair of jammies, get into just the right position in bed, place the books on one side and the tissues and stickies on the other and learn. The reader will look at one’s dog in a whole different light.
I love the part when Denny’s friend puts Enzo’s toy dog in the washing machine. I know exactly how Enzo feels. Janet is always washing my guys.
The Flip Side
How does a dog write when it can’t hold a pencil?