Cover image for The heart of the matter : breaking codes and making connections between you and your dog or your cat
The heart of the matter : breaking codes and making connections between you and your dog or your cat
Loeb, Paul, 1935-
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Publication Information:
New York : Pocket Books, 1999.
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xi, 259 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
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Central Library SF433 .L64 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Newstead Library SF433 .L64 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Acclaimed animal behaviorist Paul Loeb transcends traditional training with an extraordinary new program for raising a happier and healthier pet.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Aiming to strengthen further the human-animal bond, animal behaviorist Loeb and Hlavacek, coauthors of Smarter Than You Think, propose a two-part training program that consists of feeding pets people foodÄone-third each of protein, carbohydrates, and steamed vegetablesÄand training them with something they call the "magic touch." This method involves throwing objects at a misbehaving pet. If your dog jumps, take aim with a sneaker; if your cat doesn't come when called, bean her with a pack of cigarettes. That's it. The "magic touch" simply startles the animal, causing him or her to interrupt bad behavior in progress. This technique may be all right to use with a self-assured dog but could be downright damaging to young animals and older ones that lack confidence. The rest of the book is filled with a diatribe against processed pet foods and popular dog trainers who have been on television. The tone is heavy-handed and condescending to the average pet owner. Skip this title and look for books and videos that use positive reinforcement training methods, such as Gwen Bailey's The Perfect Puppy (Reader's Digest, 1996) and anything by Karen Pryor or Gary Wilkes.ÄPeggie Partello, Keene State Coll. Lib., NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One: Soul Mirror Probably one of our more interesting and surprising cases surfaced in the Flatbush Avenue section of Brooklyn. The man in this case was a Romanian Gypsy, a certified, card-carrying psychic, who's handle was one Peretz Mendel Zigenlaub. He contacted us because he had a major problem with Ouspenskaya, his dog. She was a thief. Not your petty kind of thief, this dog was a vision thief. A one-of-a-kind thief of the mind. She had stolen his visions, visions and secrets handed down to him by his ancestors, over hundreds of years, from Zigenlaub to Zigenlaub. This dog had stolen Zigenlaub's ability to delve into the past and to see into the future. And this Zigenlaub, a veil baby born, had been assured at birth of these special powers by the ancients. It had always been said that babies born in this manner, covered with a veil, would always have these special powers of perception and good fortune. Now they were gone, these powers. Stolen by a dog. What had thoroughly baffled this man, what had bent him out of shape, what had shaken him to the very core of his Gypsy soul, was HOW? How could this dog, or any dog, get into someone's mind and steal visions? How could he get them back? This was far beyond Zigenlaub and far beyond comprehension. It was entering the realm of the bizarre. If a dog takes a shoe, a book, something real, something solid, something you can put your hands on, you put your hands on it and take it back. You take it out of the dog's mouth, and that's it, it's over with. How in the world can you make a dog drop a dream? How can you make a dog give that dream back to you? This theft, the hand-me-down-visions caper, had left Zigenlaub with nothing but an empty head. A shell that had once held the Zigenlaub family vision secrets, the all-seeing powers of the ages. Now the gift was held in the hands -- no, the paws -- of a dog, a mixer from Flatbush Avenue. Zigenlaub, now an empty mind, totally devoid of visions, dreams, and thoughts, was a mindless, rudderless ship at sea. At sea, all he could see in the dark sky was his dog's smiling face. This face was the only star he had to plot a course by, to put his trust in. But to trust a thief? This face in the sky, this Ouspenskaya face, was a constellation of floppy ears, happy, bright eyes, and a shiny, wet, purple nose. In her mouth, she held a small, brown paper bag. This bag held the purloined visions, the stolen, Zigenlaub, centuries-old family jewels. Zigenlaub was totally helpless. On his rudderless ship he could be dashed and smashed against life's rocky road. He feared the end of the Zigenlaub vision line was near. And all because of a Gypsy dog named Ouspenskaya, she, the cunning vision thief. This was a riddle he couldn't solve. Zigenlaub was in a catch-22. He needed to solve this riddle, and soon. But he couldn't. He needed to see the answer. But he had no vision. And if you have no vision, you can't see. And if you can't see, you can't solve any riddles. How would Zigenlaub, a man with no vision, rudderless, ever find his way home again? And what home was there for this visionless man to come home to? Well, there was his Ouspenskaya, the vision thief. Having successfully gotten away with his mind, she now had taken control of the rest of Zigenlaub's world. She was running his life. She was reshuffling his fortune cards, playing hide-n-seek with his crystal ball, and tearing up his talisman bag, flinging the charms to the four winds, so that Zigenlaub hardly knew where he was at anymore or which way was up or down. He had no idea of anything what with the past, the present, and the future being all mixed up and hanging in the balance of an Ouspenskaya raid. Zigenlaub was frightened that he might read someone their past, what was really in their future. If Ouspenskaya didn't like a client, she might growl at them or even bite them. But for sure, she would intimidate and control all of them. What most of his clients really feared, what put knots in the pits of their stomachs, was that she, Ouspenskaya, might cast a spell on them, since she now held the Zigenlaub hand-me-down visions and secrets. In order to make her happy and keep her aggressive tendencies from erupting, to make sure Ouspenskaya never lost patience with them, they brought her many gifts. Not diamonds, not gold nor silver; she wasn't impressed by inanimate objects that had no alluring smell to activate her powers. She turned up her nose at these useless things. The clients found the best offerings came from caring kitchens. Strawberry shortcake got you to the head of the line. But spells or no, and loaded with bags of good food, they kept coming back. All were drawn in by the seductive, overpowering thrill of fear, fear of the unknown, all were drawn in by the possibility of finding the answers to a richer, fuller life. All were drawn to consult with Ouspenskaya, the all-powerful one, the oracle, she, the mixer from Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn. What really bothered Zigenlaub, what really blew through his empty mind, besides a draft, was that he had lost all of his clients, they only wanted to see Ouspenskaya. Not him. They felt she could give them the answers they were seeking. Not him. They came to see her, this healer. Not him. They came to see the future, they came to see the past, they came to see inside themselves. They came to be put on the right path in life. Zigenlaub couldn't do it anymore. He hadn't any mind to do it with, anymore. This whole reversal of fortune was making Zigenlaub crazy, giving him major migraine-type headaches, lower-back pain, and spasms that would continue around the clock. This man's pain was not to be believed. All because of this Ouspenskaya, this mysterious minx, of many mixed origins, who showed no mercy, no signs of letting up on our Peretz Mendel Zigenlaub. Peretz was lying on the floor on his back -- that's how we found him when we arrived in Flatbush. His dog asked us if we wanted something to drink, since it was such a hot day. We said yes and thanked her. We spent several hours with Peretz and Ouspenskaya. We wanted to patch things up between the two of them. Peretz was afraid to talk. He was afraid to say anything. He was afraid to contradict Ouspenskaya in any way -- maybe she wouldn't give back his visions ever again if he did. And he was afraid to get up because his back was killing him. It was clear to us that all Ouspenskaya ever wanted was good food, good friendship, and most of all she wanted him, Peretz Mendel Zigenlaub to know and understand her. After all she was very sensitive and tired of living with someone so selfish, so self-centered, and so insensitive. He didn't deserve to be a psychic. Let alone a hand-me-down one. He couldn't even see what she needed. So, how could this visionless man ever think that he could help anyone else, besides himself? The vision theft had been a last-ditch effort to get his attention, and to get him to listen. Peretz promised to change for the better. Ouspenskaya agreed to give him back his mind, if he kept his promise. If he didn't, she was going to take it, and this time Peretz Mendel Zigenlaub's mind would be gone in a flush. But she felt he should be weaned from no mind, slowly, to a full mind. She was afraid to give him too much of his mind all at once -- he might get sick and have diarrhea. You know, they say, that sudden changes in food, even food for the mind, can do this. The cut communication line seemed to have been spliced back together. This time tied in a herculean knot, for strength and good luck. We were leaving when suddenly Peretz Zigenlaub, from the floor, gave a deep sigh of relief, as if a giant burden had been lifted off him. He fell into a deep sleep. A voice came out of the deep-sleeping Peretz Zigenlaub and told us we had better sit down and listen. We couldn't argue with this voice, it was everywhere and yet nowhere. So, we sat, and we listened. The voice started to take on a shape. As the shape materialized, it took on a purple hue, and the form of a dog. A dog, a beautiful dog, one that looked somewhat similar to deep-sleeping Peretz, but better looking. This dog then jumped right out of the sleeping psychic and ran immediately into the kitchen for some good food. A large pot of homemade goulash happened to be simmering on the stove. The delicious smell of this spicy goulash was probably what had drawn him out. Evidently, he was hungry and wanted to eat. Good food has drawing value. Ouspenskaya was happy to see the purple dog, a dog she knew well. The dog's name was Plum. She had always had a soft spot for this Plum. Purple Plum, now stuffed full of goulash, burped and got ready to speak. We couldn't move; some invisible, strong, and yet gentle force was holding us fast in our seats. Plum delivered his state-of-the-heart message. He wanted to let us know that we all have an animal spirit inside to guide us. It's just that we've forgotten how to trust our spirits. Plum explained it matter-of-factly: "People say their eyes are the mirror of the soul. That's true enough, as far as it goes. But how far can these eyes see? Eyes are subjective and speculative. They lie and they can be fooled. You look in a mirror, you see yourself, and that is all you can see. You check to see if you are groomed well enough to face the world. Or, do you need to add or take something away? People eyes lie, about themselves, and about you. "But if you want to know what you really look like, who you are, if you want to see beyond the surface of the glass, if you dare to look at the real you, then you will most certainly want to consult with the Soul Mirror. The best Soul Mirrors we know are us animals that live with you, your cats, your dogs, and others. "They'll let you know the truth in the blink of an eye. You can't lie to a Soul Mirror. Their powers of perception are absolute, and awesome. On top of that, and whether you like it or not, your Soul Mirror is one with you always. Try to get one out of your mind. Impossible! "Now on the other hand, let's look at a simple possession, a pet. A pet is put away with all the other toys at the end of the day, or when you are gone, 'it' is locked up in a box, a garage, or a small room. A pet's only function is to be a toy or a thing. A pet has no importance in your life beyond 'Its' ability to amuse and entertain. "But watch out for the Soul Mirror! When he's around, you're in the presence of a powerhouse, one unequaled. So get out of the way. Give this powerhouse room to be. "The ground shakes, the heavens roar, the wind blows, and all the gods smile down and follow the Soul Mirror. With the biggest heart, the wettest nose, this compassionate, mighty spirit is the pathfinder par excellence. Through your Soul Mirror you can find your way home. An omnipotent genie who lives not in a bottle but in your heart and mind. And if you're nice to him, you will get back much more than what you gave. "How will you communicate with the Soul Mirror? Will you tell him, 'Sit'? Will you lock him up in a cage? Will you deny him your food? Or, will you keep him happy and comfortable? "He's the only one who will never, ever lie to you and will accept you, warts and all. Are you going to throw this gift away? Do you think you'll find a more loyal friend? "By the way, you don't own a Soul Mirror; if you're lucky, a Soul Mirror will share his valuable time and self with you. "The Soul Mirror has the aspect of the sphinx. He is inscrutable in his deepest thoughts and inner being, like a Buddha. He reserves judgment on your shortcomings, accepts your limitations; he is at one with his universe and keeps his true counsel and wisdom with the gods, the spirit worlds, and Mother Nature, those who truly can hear him and who allow the Soul Mirror his true and full expression. "He sends out a strong life force in an attempt to lift you higher than you are, to lift you to a level you cannot reach or find or get to or even see exists, without him. These swift couriers will guide and light the way; you just need to be willing to follow with a compass set on this true star. "Eyes are the mirror of the soul? That's a lot of horse pucky. What a joke. That lying eyes can mirror the soul? Who are you kidding? "Soul Mirrors, no matter their power -- no matter their omniscient gifts and happy presence -- Soul Mirrors can break. Be careful when polishing these mirrors so you don't lose your soul." We had questions for Plum, but he took none. He was finished. This silver-tongued orator turned and morphed back into Zigenlaub, who slowly came to with a smile on his face, a knowing smile. He seemed to have finally solved the riddles and gotten back his visions, visions that had been fleeting, confusing, and elusive, sometimes even a little frightening. Now all the fragments had come back together to give him a complete image. He did feel slightly nauseous though. Must have been all the visions coming back at once. On the way out, Ouspenskaya handed us one of Zigenlaub's cards, with a 20 percent discount for a next reading of the future. Then she turned to Zigenlaub and said, "Mend your ways, Mendel." Copyright © 1999 by Paul Loeb and Suzanne Hlavacek

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