Tomorrow we embark on our sojourn over the mountains to Idaho the Gem State. We are going to the Pat Shannahan Clinic for Puppies, Young Dogs and Novice handlers. Before the clinic on Friday we have a private lesson scheduled.
We have two clinic slots...
One for Beth (I have been looking for a reason to post this picture - her ears CRACK ME UP!) Beth hasn't been on sheep for over a week - she is going to be exploding full of piss and vinegar. By golly this will be interesting.
The other clinic spot is for the Bonster (aka Bonnie the Freckled Monster - Bonster shortens that nicely dontcha think?)
Bonnie has really been coming into her own.
Her concentration & intensity has grown. She is ready for sheep
Gosh is it possible to be in love with your dogs?
I think I am...it is a diagnosable psychiatric condition I am sure. Someone, quick look it up in the DSM IV.
I have Puppy Love too. Tis a condition marked by the obsession for puppy breath, squirmy little bodies covered with soft fur, little needle like teeth nibbling on your ear, sharp little claws getting stuck on your bra (OUCH), sudden shrieks in pain, followed by immediate forgiveness and picking the puppy up again - just to experience it all over again.
Love, pain, love...wow, sounds just like my relationship with all of my children. Egads, another dysfunctional psychiatric condition eh? The DSM should have been written with my name in it.
Brynn Butt is coming along for the ride too. I cannot leave her alone.
However I have no qualms about leaving Ranger alone.
Poor baby...all alone. He will be doted on and spoiled rotten by John and the kids all weekend. I think he is getting the better end of this deal.
Fellow Blogger Sarah over at Dig It - Fetch It - Herd It wrote a post called There is No 'I' in Team. There is a "U" in Excuse. that really inspired me to do some thinking. After reading it I conducted a mental self inventory and came to a few conclusions.
If you haven't figured out by now after reading some of my pathetic self pitying posts about training - self confidence is not my forte. Some days I will be in the middle of a field with Beth and the sheep and struck by a thought "MORONS SHOULD NOT BE HANDLING SHEEPDOGS!". If the dog is smarter than the handler, there is a problem.
One conclusion I have reached is this 'sport' is full of new and unexpected ways to humiliate yourself.
I am plagued with doubt, dismay and worry. I allow it to consume me to far too often. When I am feeling challenged by Beth or I see something that is wrong and I blame myself, dwell on the problem, rather than reach into my mental toolbox and pull out the tools I need to fix it.
Honestly, I want to quit - go home and eat cheetos.
It doesn't help that my 'mental toolbox' is a jumbled mess of psychosis, neurosis and dysfunction.
Sarah wrote some excellent bullets in her post that really hit home for me
- Don't dwell on the issues
- Deal with the issues and get on with it
- The issues do not define you or your dog
- Don't let the past define your future
- If you make excuses, you begin to define you and your dog based on those issues
- Excuses hold you back, make it harder to move forward
- Focus on the good and let the rest fall into place
- Work on the issues and the rest becomes easier
This reminds me of many of the same things I have told my children over the years. As a mom of a son with schizophrenia we have participated in oodles of therapy. One thing that we focus on are these things called "thinking errors". Too often we get trapped in 'thinking errors' that lead us down mental paths that are not healthy.
I have some serious thinking errors in the field and in my training with my dogs.
I focus on our faults & I allow them to define me.
For example: Beth is still cutting in on the top of her outruns - I have allowed that to define me as a handler. Every time she does it I think "I suck". When in reality, I don't suck, Beth doesn't suck, we need more practice.
Beth may never be one of those dogs that gives the beautiful wide outruns and you know what....SO WHAT? I can keep trying.
Another (very personal) thinking error I have been allowing to plague me is ... my weight.
(betcha didn't see that coming huh?)
I am allowing the excess weight to define me too. Lets be honest here. The bottom line is I am F.A.T. One of the main reasons I wanted to get involved with this sport was the potential for exercise.
I may be the fattest woman in this clinic, at Fido's, in WA State, the universe ... but you know what? WHO the F___ CARES? The only person who is obsessing over her weight...is ME (other than the people who point and laugh & they can bite my big fat arse).
Being fat does not make me a poor handler. It makes me slower than most and I am not able to race across the field at my dog - that just means I need to keep doing this, keep walking, keep working and quit shoving more calories in my pie hole than my body can burn.
Deal with the issue and get on with it. Yep - I am trying. (Right after I finish this Snickers bar)
My dogs are all rescue dogs. They will ALWAYS be rescue dogs. They may not come from a incredible line of championship dogs. (Don't get me wrong, I drool over those pedigree's) But my dogs are happy & I am happiest to see them fulfilling their drive & their breeding & purpose. Something that is even more poignant to me because they were throw aways...
So, I am going to this clinic with a plan.
- Have FUN
- Listen with an open mind - Don't automatically dismiss something because we have tried it before, or Beth doesn't work well with a different instructor etc.
- Take it easy on myself & my dog - People are not laughing at me or thinking I am too heavy to be doing this. I am not stupid because I am heavy. Beth & Bonnie have potential even though they are rescues
- Keep a positive attitude - We can do this, we can be good at this.
- Communicate effectively - if I have questions or concerns, do not be afraid to speak up and ask them.
- Do not let the past issues define our future - Just because we have had problems with this in the past, does not mean it cannot be fixed. We just need to keep trying and get past it.
All the same goals we should have for our daily lives too...awesome.