Harper B for ...

We Did It!

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Harper B for So Many Things completed her CD (obedience title) yesterday. She did this in three straight runs — the first leg was at the Specialty, the second was Saturday, and the third leg was yesterday (Sunday). She even got ribbons! Second place on Saturday and this yesterday!

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Full Disclosure — the placements were based on a lack of qualifiers. Basically, Harper was the Last Dog Staying yesterday as the three other qualifiers who made it to the Stay Group all blew their stays. Bummer for them — but Harper enjoyed the gift certificate she won for first place.

This was a Git ‘er Done CD for a very specific purpose — to complete the requirements for the BMDCA’s Working Dog Award. And she did it — Harper B for BMDCA Working Dog Award!

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At eight and with two Harper B for Bionic Knees, there were few sits involved in her obedience runs — I think standing is more comfortable for her, and so she did. Oh well — only lost points and who cares?! Not me. Harper B for Better Believe It reminds me that adversity is just a detour and not a reason to quit.

I am so proud of Harper. This was not the journey I expected her to have — but it became HER journey and we walk it together. She is done with obedience but not ready to retire. Her future includes more tracking and a new sport that will utilize her great nose — Scent Work!

Learning how to adjust to new and sometimes unwanted realities is another way that Life with Dogs makes us better humans. I am grateful to Harper B for Best Teacher for the lessons, even as I wish she had been blessed with an easier path in her lifetime. Two Harper B for Bad Knees plus pyometra seems like a Harper B for Bum Deal for such a kind dog.

Dogs are free to remove themselves from children’s attention at any time. Harper B for Being Patient.

Dogs are free to remove themselves from children’s attention at any time. Harper B for Being Patient.

Kaibab Harper’s East of the Sun, West of the Moon TDX CD NDD FDC and BMDCA Working Dog

Who Needs a Kitchen?!

I would be hard-pressed to adequately describe the chaos and disruption associated with the Great Dishwasher Fiasco of 2019. A picture is worth a thousand words — right? So here you go — 3000 words worth.

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We do not have a kitchen now. Boxes are everywhere. I am learning from experts all about insurance claims (gratitude to those generous people!). And I have a book chapter due this month.

Oh dear.

But today is just one day and I can only live in this moment — no sense in freaking out about what is coming up.

And so I will head out to do more recoding for a podcast series we are doing on teenage suicide and grief and so on. Doing so reminds me that the Great Dishwasher Fiasco of 2019 is an Inconvenience and not a Real Problem.

Stay dry out there!

Great Expectations

I love goals! They are road maps, helping us arrive at a planned destination. I seriously have a list of Dog Goals on my refrigerator.

Goal not met? So what?! Nobody takes away your birthday if a goal needs to be changed or adjusted.

Goal not met? So what?! Nobody takes away your birthday if a goal needs to be changed or adjusted.

But goals can be a double-edged sword.

Goals generate certain expectations of ourselves and others. For example, to meet my goal Sparkle is required to master the exercises in the utility class. It is not Sparkle’s idea to learn which glove to grab or which jump to take — that is my agenda, my expectation, my goal.

Humans have an unfortunate tendency to react with anger, disappointment, and/or frustration when we do not get what we want or think we deserve from others. Even if we mute our response, those reactions are emotional triggers to dogs.

It is the nature of dogs to be keenly aware and responsive to their humans, and a message that there is something not quite right won’t be missed.

But it is the nature of a human to experience a full range emotions — in fact, it is a Bad Sign if we cannot.

So how are we to manage this seeming conundrum in Life with Dogs — the human need to emote but in ways that do not negatively impact a dog’s performance?

Easy peasy — we change our thinking.

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Thoughts are what trigger emotions, and unless you are being remote controlled by one of your electronic devices, you are in charge of what you think — and therefore, what you feel.

An emotional response to, '“Damn dog is blowing me off again” or “This is humiliating” will be very different from thinking, “How can I better support her understanding of my expectation?” or “I love this dog so much!”

This where the assumption of good intentions leap into the conversation.

Unless you are Miss Polly Perfect, it is much more likely that your dog’s so-called failure to meet your expectations is due to YOU. She wasn’t trained well enough for the conditions, you are being a Hot Freaky Mess, your cues got all stiff and weird in the ring, and so on.

If we assume good intentions of the dog — that she is doing her very best with the information and training we have provided — it is hard to be frustrated and disappointed with said dog.

However, we must be careful not to transfer the negativity to ourselves. Holding the dog blameless while mentally beating ourselves up for being an imperfect human being keeps the bad vibes in the training relationship.

FYI: An imperfect human being is the only kind there is. Are you a robot?!

You, the imperfect human being, are doing your best. Assume good intentions of yourself — your dog already does.

When we remove all that negativity in our thinking — about the dog and/or ourselves — we transform our training.

I have the ability to manage my thinking — and therefore feelings — around goals and expectations but even more, I have Perspective — and that is the real secret to keeping Life with Dogs infused with joy even when we miss our mark.

Oh Zoey — how I wish I could have one more hour with you.

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And because she knew that she was nothing but pure joy to me, she would choose to spend that hour training — and it would look like this:

Grand Champion. Utility Dog. Multiple High in Trial Dog. Tracking Dog Excellent. Draft Dog. Brace Draft Dog. Excellent Agility titles. Versatility Dog Excellent. Working Dog Excellent. Versatile Companion Dog 3. Top Producer. Heart Dog. #noregrets

Grand Champion. Utility Dog. Multiple High in Trial Dog. Tracking Dog Excellent. Draft Dog. Brace Draft Dog. Excellent Agility titles. Versatility Dog Excellent. Working Dog Excellent. Versatile Companion Dog 3. Top Producer. Heart Dog. #noregrets

Dream your big dreams, and have those great expectations. But just know that a dog’s life is short — do you really want to waste one second of it on frustration, anger, and/or disappointment?

I don’t.