Monday, November 15, 2010

Beautiful Saturday

Bady and I trained on Saturday and it was a beautiful day! You don't expect 60 degree temperatures in mid-November! Luckily I was getting over my cold, so I was able to bring him out on the field and show off all the hard work we had done at home.

He is heeling straighter, outing better and does a great, fast, straight recall. We need to start working on our sits and downs in motion and about-turns. He does them for me at home, but it is more challenging on the field with other dogs and people around. Our goal is to complete our BH in the spring and see where we are for Schutzhund 1 next fall. We shall see! Right now I am concentrating on one step at a time. I continue to be thankful for a Training Club that is patient with a 'newbie' like me!

When I reflect upon the confidence and peace I have found since working with Bady, I know there are other women who could benefit from similar canine-partnerships. After I was assaulted, just having Bady in my life allowed me to reclaim a safe space. Bady was a gift from God. The training we have done has challenged me and helped me see myself as a strong person again. I hope I can someday help other women struggling with PTSD reclaim that same sense of peace and safety.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Sticking to a Schedule

I am pretty schedule-oriented. I like sticking to a routine. (You may notice that I generally blog on Mondays.) In my perfect world everything would fit easily into my schedule and nothing would disrupt it! Yet, this is not a perfect world. And church work is certainly not conducive to a rigid schedule. One call for a pastoral emergency or funeral can throw the schedule off for the rest of the week. I've learned to hold my schedule lightly. I celebrate when things fall into place, but I also recognize the importance of the interruptions and live into them as best I can.

In dog training, keeping a schedule is also a tricky thing. It is important to keep a training schedule to ensure that the work is getting done. Three or four short training and exercise sessions are best each day, rather than one long one. However, if you stick too strictly to the same schedule the dog can get bored. He begins to anticipate what happens when and loses his sharpness. Even within the training sessions, it is important to mix things up. If you usually take the ball out of your left pocket, take it out of your right pocket occasionally. Practice heeling before practicing recall, and then switch it up. If you never vary from the routine, the dog will end up 'phoning it in.' The point of training is to keep the dog engaged, not to put him to sleep!

In some ways the same lessons hold true for life. Schedules and routines help us accomplish what needs to be done. Yet, if we stick too closely to our routines, we lose the spontaneity that can keep life interesting.