By Ida Williams, Director of Marketing and Communications
How do you make new friends in just three days?
1. Use the enticement of dogs.
1. Use the enticement of dogs.
2. Engage with the mystique of the Monks of New Skete.
3. Indulge with monastic hospitality.
That is what happened this past weekend at New Skete’s The Art of Living with Your Dog Seminar. Twenty-eight guests, dubbed the Storm Troopers,* left on Sunday afternoon sharing hugs, email addresses, and a few tears. (Oh, wait. The tears were mine.)
The first thing we all had in common is dogs. The guests love dogs, the brothers love dogs, the staff and volunteers love dogs. What were we talking about? Oh, yeah, DOGS. Photos of dogs were shown on smartphones, and dog stories were shared. There were dogs in the classroom, dogs being trained in the room next to the classroom, dogs lying next to our feet while we ate lunch under cover of a tent, and eight puppies in the puppy kennel. So the dogs are definitely the ice breakers when making these new friends.
Then there are these mysterious monks who live and care for these dogs. They have written books about dogs, raised hundreds of dogs, and trained thousands of them.
What is their deep connection to creation, demonstrated in their knowledge of dogs and how they live their lives with them? What is the spiritual connection they seem to have with their canine companions? Will they really share this information, their secrets? Yes!
Brother Marc started the weekend with a talk about the beginning of New Skete and the introduction of their first German Shepherd to the monastery. Brother Luke divulged that before coming to New Skete he had no interaction with dogs and was, in fact, a little afraid of them. Today he is the director of the breeding program. He then went on to describe how the monks socialize puppies so that when they go to their new families, they have been exposed to different experiences and stimuli. Not only did the attendees hear about socializing puppies, there was a demonstration with two puppies with very different personalities, and handouts to take home. Brother Christopher tied the entire seminar together with these topics: “How to Live Intentionally with Your Dog and Have the Dog of Your Dreams” and “The Spiritual Dimension in the Human/Dog Relationship.”
In a round-table discussion dealing with dog behaviors, guests shared their problems and solutions. Another round-table topic was balancing work, family, and dog. In this forum, the guests exchanged information on finding a good doggie day care, whether dog parks are a good option, and setting boundaries within your life in order to strike the balance you need to have a great companion. The conversation turned to the heartache of losing our beloved canine friends. This is one topic we all have experience in.
To host a seminar at the monastery, the brothers must open their home. Meals are shared, recipes exchanged. Laughter is heard and conversations had. Tours are given and selfies made. Relationships are formed and relationships renewed. Hugs and thanks are given and hugs and thanks received. One new friend wrote this on Facebook:
“DEEPENING OUR RELATIONSHIPS - We encourage individuals, couples and families to attend the 3-day program on "The Art of Living with Your Dog" with the Monks of New Skete. Highlights include a deep dive on meaningful relationships, proven training methods by the Monks of New Skete that will help you, your family, and pets become AMAZING companions that you can be for each other.
Deb and I departed better people, a better couple, and better listeners for our family and our furry friends.
Big thanks to my wife Deb for leading the way and to the Monks (and staff) of New Skete for the great work that you do for both people and our furry friends.”
*Thursday night a storm caused widespread power outages. The monastery, guesthouse, and surrounding area were without power for over twenty hours.