Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Trip to Idaho & Clinic Goals

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 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,, 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 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.

  1. Have FUN
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. Keep a positive attitude - We can do this, we can be good at this.
  5. Communicate effectively - if I have questions or concerns, do not be afraid to speak up and ask them.
  6. 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.


Jaenne said...

Great goals to have for the clinic! I can't wait to see you and your dogs. I wish I had gotten on the ball and got a working spot, but I'll be there to learn all the same. See ya in a couple of days!

An English Shepherd said...

Fun is the best goal, whats the point unless you and your dogs enjoy it?

Hope you have lots & lots of fun at the clinic.

Wizz :-)

Ann said...

Great post! Fun is one of our big goals for the clinic, too.

See you there!

Amy said...

What an excellent post. I look forward to reading about the clinic.

And as far as being in love with your dogs - um, yeah! I swear Arthur is my own son actually. His momma came into rescue pregnant and he was born in my bedroom.

Enjoy the clinic!!!!!!!!

Sarah said...

wow i am honoured that you mentioned me in your post, just common sense stuff - i didn't write the book in originality, but i need to think about those things - and why we do what we do, in our lives and our DOGS lives. I am the kind of person that if someone tells me I can;t do something - I will make sure I try -even if I fall flat in the process.

Apparently we use the same 'mental toolbox', mine too is jumbled mess of psychosis, neurosis and dysfunction.

but at the end of the day, i do what i do, because like you, i am in love with my dogs, and love having fun with them!!!!!

good luck this weekend, sounds like you are in the right headspace for it (which I know can be hard)


p.s. good thing you don't live real close or I would steal Brynn from you.

howard said...

Oh what an adorable dogs you have! Dogs really wanna have fun! Did you happen to see this article on Zootoo’s $1Million scam?

Paula said...

Great post! Have fun at the clinic.

Kasha said...

What a great post! Thanks for the helpful information to ponder. I am wondering since you seem to be an excellent trainer if you could suggest how to stop my Africa from trying to bite at my legs every time I try running with her. She does great with her walks, but thinks running is playing. Any suggestions? Great goals by the way!

Mary said...

I just discovered your blog and I just had to comment. First of, the dogs are gorgeous. Second, great inspirational post. Just remember - you're working for yourself and the dogs. I look forward to reading more.

Pat A said...

There is herding and then there is herding competition. Since when we came close to herding ( neighbors cows in Olympia ) ours was the old fashioned herding. Let the dog know what you want done, show them a few times and they will do it, style.
I don't think I could ever go the competition route.
What I taught all of our 4-hers with their horses is true here. Just expect the horse or dog to do it, no second guessing or doubts and it will happen as they learn. It always worked. If the dog takes a little longer to get the style you want, that is ok, just keep expecting it to get there and it will.
Relax, and enjoy or it is not worth doing.
If your are on I-90 and have time, stop by.

Dughallmor Beagles said...

This is a great post, a thoroughly good read! And yes, it is TOTALLY possible....normal be in love with your dogs...I am!
Have fun at the clinic...though i'm probably too late with the comment!
I LOVE that last shot BTW :D
Slobbers xx