Copyright 2008 - 2010 © C. D. C. La Douce Constance.
In remembrance
I shared my life with several dogs, each of which in their own way allowed me to understand important
things concerning dogs. Whether, Blacky, Pacha, Kouny, Toufine, Sabine, Olive or Cassy all gave me the
greatest gift of all, their trust, and therefore they will always have a special place in my heart. But I reflect
here especially on Cassy because she was the dog of “the transition”. Cassy, a beautiful black Great Dane,
taught me another way to train and care for a dog. With her I learned the principles of operating
conditioning, I dared to put a cross on commercial dog food and above all I understood the virtues of
patience.

When I adopted Cassy after a long period without dogs I realized that the methods in dog training had
evolved they had changed very quietly, almost secretly. These new methods did not use choke collars,
aversive or physical correction, rather they used the dog's natural tendency to do a behaviour and
strengthen it. I must confess that when I started training dogs the only method that was taught was
classical conditioning. How many times was I saddened to see the spark of vivacity disappear from the
eyes of a dog when he would submit with these methods? With Cassy and the operant conditioning
training I saw this vivacity turn into a real reflection and then a huge 'Eureka' when she figured out which
behaviour would produce the positive reinforcement. Cassy has learned more things in her short life
through this method that all my dogs together. Whether picking up her toys, closing doors and drawers,
pulling a beer from the fridge, fetching our shoes or keys or even taking a few fancy steps with me,
everything was a game to her. Learning was her favourite activity because the method was a great
guessing game in which she always won. She always won because with patience and imagination I would
break down the desired behaviour into small pieces to allow her to succeed. Sometimes I felt that I was
not getting the result I was hoping for and them the next day, surprise, she would reproduces the
desired behaviour without hesitation . Then I remembered the words my sisters would often say ”It is not
the destination that is important but the voyage”  The important thing is that we had fun trying to learn,
knowledge would always come in due time.

One December evening, Cassy suddenly seamed to have trouble breathing. The worried look on my vets
face didn’t announce anything good, Cassy had big problems. Severe heart failure was causing
pulmonary oedema. Unfortunately we had very little hope of saving her. A diuretic treatment was
prescribed to reduce swelling and relieve discomfort.

Once we go back from the vet, she asked to go out, took the usual path of our walks, went to the end of
our land where the fields overlook the St-Lawrence river. She looked at me and turned back towards
home, Jacques worried by our absence came looking for us. Cassy walked ahead, proud and beautiful, as
always, I followed behind heart broken knowing that this was our last walk. The next day she left for ever
taking a piece of our heart with her.

Cassy was not even 4 years old and nothing could have prepared us for this early departure. She was an
important part of our lives and always will have a very special place in my heart because she is the one
that taught me…
I dedicate this page to Cassy how taugh me so much