Today, I stood witness to an individual who has struggled with startlines as she came to understand that a shift in her mindset would make immediate improvements to her dogs’ impulse control. Happiness grabbed hold of my heart as another handler made the decision to alter her behavior from running alongside her dog to showing it the path to take as a strong and decisive leader. She was rewarded with a beautiful, fast and accurate dogwalk. When a handler approached me after the session to express gratitude for the spark of joy that appeared in her dog’s eyes as she worked to point her feet correctly and give it clear information …. well, her smile is one that I will long remember.
I giggled as handlers supportively called out to each other about what they liked and wanted to see their peers repeat and then as they called out to hold each other accountable when they believed someone had given less than their potential. What a gift these people gave to each other as they engaged, gathered round to watch onr other work, asked questions, proffered hypotheses and listened to the cues and information their canine partners provided along the way.
True teaching comes from listening, I believe. If we just quiet ourselves long enough to be present, we will hear what we need to do.
We hooted and hollered and moved around a lot today. By no one’s assessment were we quiet, especially not me. There’s no missing my voice in any situation (not even when I was 8 and making my first holy confession …. and confessed so loudly that those kneeling at the alter heard the details of the simple sins I imparted to the padre).
Yet, through today’s noise, I sensed handler after handler focusing only their dog, working to find a balance of relationship that could grow theirs (and their dogs) confidence and clarity. I saw listening, true listening to the body language of human and canine. As multiple dogs worked together in the arena, each team grew so engaged that the other teams had no impact on them. Mind blowing. That is the connection that I hope each team brings to the ring when they compete. So much present, so much mindful, so much mindset … that the outside environment falls away as teams run as one. And yes, frustration. No learning happens without a moment or two or three of angst. Listen to it, and learn. Find that pattern of crazy and craft a new view of capable from the agita.
So, this is why I teach. Yes, for the sound of cheers that a seminar full of participants spontaneously make in appreciation for the perseverance of others. Yes, for the belief that lights up within a handler as they acknowledge that though they may not be perfect …. YET …. they can find the footsteps to help get them to that place, and that for now, trying is what counts. Yes, for their acceptance that I don’t have all the answers and am not afraid to say so (but will suggest some way for them to find out what they need). And yes, for the crazy happy I feel as I make a fast exit to catch a ferry or flight or freeway ride back to my own pack.
It’s a pretty good way … no, a magical way … to spend a day, a life, a listen.
P.S. I also teach because it’s what I do when I’m not handling my own dogs. And in a shameless plug for my own business, let me just say this clearly: Hire me. I’m really good at this people training mindset believe in yourself change your brain change your game let your dog know you have its back work that I do. Really. Happy Training!