Become a Better Reader for your Dog.

Dog with glasses on reading a paper.

After a year and a half of blogging about dogs, I hope I have become a better writer. But if you were to ask me to name the one thing that has improved most a result of my blogging, I would have to say it’s my reading skills.

I’ve written many posts during my blogging tenure and there is one thing they all have in common. Each piece is tempered by my own predilections and prejudices, beliefs and disbeliefs, and the lifetime of experiences behind them.

We tend to be very passionate about our dogs and I see that passion surface in both good and bad ways in blogs and more importantly the discussion of those blogs across the internet. Even though we are reading the same articles we seem to take away very different things from them; so much so that I often wonder if we are reading the same articles! Our passion seems to take an editorial role in the articles we read by highlighting some words and ideas while using whiteout on others.

Since realizing this I have come to start reading articles in a way that I think helps me get the most out of them and allows me open my mind to things that aren’t readily apparent through the fog of emotion. Here are some strategies I have adopted.

Read an article at least twice.

My first impression of an article will be the one most tinged with emotion; this is unavoidable and part of the human condition so I let my emotions take me where they will. After I’ve had a while to let the initial emotional impact subside, I read the article again but this time with a particular point of view in mind; what does the author want me to get from the article? I often find the intention of the author can be missed when my emotions are fresh.  

Don’t read the comments immediately after the first reading.

I want to read the comments of others, but I don’t want them to influence my initial reaction to an article. In fact I usually don’t read the comments until after I’ve read an article at least twice. I don’t comment on an article until after the second reading for the same reasons.

Comments are best read and made with a completely open mind that is not running on fresh emotion.

The comments are often where I learn the most. This can be both the most rewarding and the most disappointing part of the process. The reward comes from two sources. It’s always good to discover people that hold the same ideas and opinions that you do; this is of course very validating. But more rewarding to me is running into people that come away with ideas and opinions that frankly, did not occur to me. It’s where growth occurs. The disappointment comes from reading comments from people who are so emotionally involved with certain points or ideas in the article that they are blinded to all else.

Remember, we serve ourselves and our dogs much better when we are actively trying to learn despite the prejudices we may have.