Before we start - How many of the current or potential Mugs/Big K Clinic participants have had this thought run through their mind?
"Wait, I'm meeting all these bloggers face to face? I have got to lose some weight!"
Yeah, me too.
Life is so complex, so confusing and such a friggin' day to day test.
I'm telling you though, the older I get, the more trials that are presented and the more tests I survive, the clearer the big picture is.
Brockle is a perfect example.
He is a brilliant, loyal, hard-working, total pain-in-the-ass.
I am working with a pretty hard-core (as in serious and accomplished, not mean) dog trainer. I'm not going to out him yet. I'm protective of the people willing to go out on a limb to help me. Plus, I'm still studying, listening, learning. You guys know me well enough by now, I absorb the whole experience. If I begin to study with a pro I do what they ask without question. I'll go home, think about things, practice things, then go back with my questions. I want to make sure they have a point and don't come from my own emotions.
This way, the trainers I work with become very open and willing to discuss theory with me. Once I've got the theory, I can analyze technique within the parameters of what I'm being given. If I find myself fundamentally disagreeing with a theory, I'll start working on a new one. If I agree with the theory, but am struggling with some of the steps taken to get there, well, I'm not going to quit on the concept. I will however, try to get the same results with a different approach.
Also, I don't want to waste my $$ telling someone I'm paying MY theories. I'm there to learn his. And his technique. And timing. I am there to pick his brain.
I'm not an easy student (ask Big K), I watch, ask, think, ask, practice, ask, make the poor trainers head ache with analyzing everything and anything...but I'm polite. I also bring beer.
Brockle is benefiting enormously, even at these early stages.
So, I'm not introducing my dog trainer yet, I will when I'm a little further in.
Now back to Brockle. He has learned the way to get me moving and doing chores (feeding the dogs being one of them) in the morning is to wake up Snocone. You see, once Snocone wakes up, I immediately take her outside, because if I don't, her little Mill Dog self pees on the floor. Then, because it's reasonable to start chores, I do.
Brockle used to go bug Jim, but he got yelled at (by Jim) and locked out of the bedroom.
So he quit that and moved on to Snocone. She yells at him too, but then has to pee. I have to take her, because she doesn't quite get the doggie door concept. Brockle wins.
This gets more complex. Brockle knows if he wakes her too early I'll just take her out, come back and start writing again. So he doesn't wake her until it's reasonably close to feeding time. Both Snocone and I resent the hell out of this BTW.
He learned to open the windows in the car. He only opens his window. So now I keep them locked.
We don't play in the house. He's too big, Jim and I have shaky balance, there are a lot of dogs in here, so we don't play.
Brockle will get his ball out of my coat pocket and very quietly play bounce/catch by himself in the other room. Tell me this isn't smart.
He also puts toys he wishes we could play with inside the house in my coat pocket or my walking shoes.
Charlie, my honorable rat terrier, is not the bully in their relationship, Brockle is. I'm relieved. Charlie has always been serious and thinks he needs to add his opinion to every dog interaction, but I've never thought of him as a bully.
I told my dog trainer guy about the aggressive play-fighting that goes on between them.
He said, "Brockle is pushing him around, Charlie is responding. So Brockle gets the "Off" command and Charlie gets "Good Dog!" Brockle is being a brat and a bully. He only gets a "Good Off" if he actually listens listen to my "Off" and leaves Charlie alone. Which is beginning to happen.
So here's the biggest eye-opener I have been given with this dog training gig.
If I anticipate and try to avoid problems with Brockle, I am not successful in communicating what I want.
If I assume everything will be perfect, give plenty of room for mistakes,and don't hang on too tight, I get my message across very quickly.
This is what I've been fighting with the horses and my riding/training abilities for years.
I hold, I fidget, I anticipate problems. Then I get everything I was inadvertently asking for, fidgets, setting against the bridle and my legs, and every single issue I thought I saw coming. Dang it. K will think this is so funny.
On my horses, instead of thinking ahead about where I'm going to turn my cow, or how nice the sun will feel when we make the ridge on our trail, I'm thinking about too much speed through the corner, the way Madonna's ears pricked at the big scary cement blocks...and I end up dragging her down in the arena and getting a big fat spook at the cement blocks.
With the dogs, when I see another dog coming, my reaction is to tighten my grip, keep looking at the dog and his owner, and try to read what could go wrong so I can prevent it. I get the old lunge and drag every time.
When I relax, look ahead, assume Brockle will be good and just get on with things, he's just about perfect.
When I ran into trouble with my high-school age daughter, I clamped down hard. We switched from a bosal to a mechanical hackamore, and I held those roping reins in a death grip. She sucked back hard and bucked even harder. Oh, wait, I'm talking about the kidlette...ah, same difference.
Once I sighed, found my center and let her go, well, I got her back.
My life right now makes me desperate to find some element of control in the middle of all this chaos.
I bet I'll get a handle on it if I remember to keep my reins loose, my legs logical and to keep thinking forward.
Keep the feet moving, leave the head alone and always have my forward.
It seems so simple. Who knew?