Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Letting go...

No...a dog didn't die...and no one farted (in this moment in time anyway...I do have 7 dogs so that is bound to happen)...but just about dogs...happy things about dogs :)
I know, this blog is about my dogs...and all that. And I am sure I gush a lot about my dogs all the time. So if you are bored by that, then you might want to wait until tomorrow to read the blog.
Lynn...my gosh I am so very blessed to have this dog...sure, I bred her, I am responsible for her existence (JODI THAT IS FOR YOU!! LOL)...but she chose me from the get go. She chose to be my dog. And no one else was going to come in between that.
Day 30: Lynn :)
At the Silvia seminar on Sunday, she asked me why we were here, at first I thought "OMG she is wondering why we entered such a high level...we suck" but she didn't...she was wondering why Lynn wasn't in the Masters level the next day...Sure...Lynn probably proved her wrong in the afternoon, getting a bit of baby BC brain...but that meant a lot. Probably more than Silvia will ever know :)
My response was, well...she has just turned 2, and we are not communicating quite like I want in the handling department, and...she has been an interesting dog to train :) Silvia just smiled... Day 31: She chose me...
Did I care that she said those things because I needed to know Lynn was doing well in her training, or that she was talented? Nope. I didn't...I think she is the best dog in the world. I have th most talented dogs ever...and I hope ALL of you feel the same way about your dogs :)
What made me happy is that Lynn is just being Lynn :)
Sometimes a relationship with a dog doesn't come easy...sure with some dogs it does...it really does. But with others, there is a "warming up period"...and the relationship between Lynn and myself was this way...we were not speaking the same language...it was akward, sometimes hard, sometimes REALLY hard...but...like any good relationship, things work themselves out...
And things did...and there was a reason for it, because, I have to say, Lynn has taught me more than ANY other dog has. Not because she's had a crapload of issues, for sure not, but she has taught me the most important thing I think I needed to be a better dog owner and trainer. How to let go, have fun and enjoy the small things.
It's easy sometimes, when people are watching, to get caught up in what you SHOULD look like. It makes you wonder why people even care, and for me...it makes me just want to not be anyone. Just to disappear into the crowd...to become a number...one of millions. It makes me want to shut down the blog, delete my FB account and just disappear into life. But Lynn changed that.
She wouldn't accept that person...she didn't like certain things about me, and she made it VERY clear that I needed to let go of a lot of expectations for her...to accept and move forward. I was out of my comfort zone so many times with her...things that worked with all my other dogs just didn't really cut it with Lynn. I don't know how to even describe HOW it didn't work, or why...but her responses to things just were not like my other dogs.
And I guess I hadn't realized just how far we have come until we were working in the seminar this weekend...
So it's hard at times, when you are at a seminar, to be OK making mistakes. Bringing out a new dog is a new thing it itself. People have expectations of a new dog, especially if you have had success with earlier dogs...so this new dog should be "super dog 5.0"...with Lynn I got comments about how she was "slower than they expected". Did she have a mph sticker on her? What exactly was my expectation supposed to be for her "speed"?
She is a baby, a late maturing baby at that...she is beginning trialing...why would my dog be any different from any other young dog? And now that she is really speeding up, people ask me "What did you do to her?!?!?". As if there was no way she could ever be as good as past dogs. Who cares if she is or isn't? Others...and if others care, I should care. Not anymore :)
Lynn has taught me...to be in the moment...to let go and not worry about anything but that moment in time...working your dog. And if you need to get down on the floor and act like an idiot to make your dog happy. DO IT. And I did :) I was watching some of the video...and sure, I failed to handle her correctly...but I was laughing...I was happy, Lynn was happy. People were laughing...maybe at me? Probably at some of the stuff I was saying as I apparently get word vomit when I mess up...toy goes flying out towards my dog like some kind of automatic ball launcher, I make some gestures...I DID NOT CUSS THOUGH..at least not at this seminar...so maybe it's funny :)

Day 32: A** Whoopin'!!!!!

Being in the moment also means you are not worrying about everyone else...just you, and your dog. Playing...no supporters, no people dragging you down...just that moment between two team mates. Focus on the good times...forget the bad. Let it GO...

She has also taught me to really understand "smallest change, slightest try"...to SEE what a dog is giving me, even if it is small...don't expect the entire thing, but one little, TINY step...and if you recognize that, the dog WILL give you more and more until you have what you want. BUT...if you don't see it...you miss out on all the little things you COULD have rewarded.

All my dogs have changed me as a trainer...each dog should change your approach, your methods etc...you need to constantly be evolving, not stuck in "static" mode (as Silvia calls it when I stand there and don't move :)...
Day 33: Summertime...puppies...perfect...
But Lynn, has changed me as a person...which is huge...I don't change easily...but for some reason she has had the correct method to make me change. I am more patient, don't care about what others think (OK care less), and just train my dogs. I don't need my dogs to be the best dogs to ever walk the face of the earth, rather I take it as my responsibility to make them the best they can be as individuals. And for them to have fun while doing so. I wouldn't say I was ever really SUPER crazy about my dogs being the best...but I would at times focus on that...which, as I look back on it, always seemed to have negative effects on my dogs or my performance.
I don't do agility because my goal in life is to win, I do agility because I LOVE my dogs. I love training my dogs, I love playing with my dogs. Simple. I couldn't imagine my life without dogs...just not possible :)
Lynn has helped me realize that, and how to get as much enjoyment out of it as she has...
Thank you Lynn :)


Debra Kay said...

Ok-a rare moment of gush warm fuzzy from me-but I really do believe dogs come to us each with specific lessons we are to learn from them.

When I catch myself being a little tough on Solo I am also reminded about how I do that to myself too-forget to reward progress rather than a complete finished product. I can honestly say I am much nicer to ME since Solo came along-and that might be the best gift he's given me so far.

Ok-gushing complete.

Casey said...

Thanks for your words. We have a young border collie, Casey, that has challenged us at every turn. He was mistreated before we got him and the usual training just never worked with him. We've taken our time, laughed at his reactions and mistakes, loved him no matter what, and watched him come around to be the best most loving dog we've ever had.

Victoria, Bellingham, WA

Kathy said...

Very well said.

manymuddypaws said...

awesome post. I really struggle with this, although I am not sure why really. I will probably be back to re-read it later.

Loretta Mueller said...

Amanda...would love to know more of your feelings on this subject when you have the time to articulate it :)

Debra--they are for sure...and some lessons are much bigger than others.

Casey--for sure!

Sarah Duke said...

I heard those words last summer "small change slight try" ;) very true words. Great post.

Anonymous said...

Loved this blog entry. It sparks a great deal of emotion in me as I remember each dog coming into my life. I remember you and I talking one year ago about how to work through some focus issues I was having at the trials with Schema. That was one year ago and that experience running at her first trials was the best thing that ever happened. It made me understand her better and helped me figure out how to improve her performances so that she would start to bring her skills to the trial. I actually LOVE dogs like Lynn and Schema that take you to a whole new level because they are different. I THRIVE on challenges and would get bored with the same type of dog every time. Or maybe we are just better trainers now and the dogs just seem different because we've done different things. Whatever it is, I am truly enjoying the ride. Thanks again for an awesome read.