Thursday, January 7, 2010

Growing Pains

This dog working thing is so fluid.  It's intuitive, in the moment, and it changes from one second to the next.  I'm not a big fan of changes.  I like rules, schedules, and I like for things to be as they are and stay as they are forever Amen.  So sometimes when I think I have a particular issue with a dog worked out and it pops back up I just don't know what to do.  When the picture changes I struggle just a little sometimes.

I farm-sat for Mary and Tony over Christmas.  I had a ball, the dogs had a ball, and while farm-sitting is always hard work (anyone need a good farm-sitter?) I always have fun.  I worked the dogs a little while I was there, but unfortunately being over the holidays I didn't have as much free time as I would have liked.

Anyway, one day out there Robin commented that it didn't seem like Linc and I were having much fun.  Turns out she was right.  He was being a little hard-head, and in response I was cranking on him.  The tougher I'd get the tougher he'd get, and it was like watching a modern day sword-fight except with sheep, dogs, and one seriously pissed off human. 

So with Robin's help I relaxed. I helped my dog relax.  Suddenly we were working together as a team again.  That begs the question - does he get tough because I get tough, or do I get tough because he does?  Do we feed on each other - is it like a spontaneous combustion?  Did he *already* know I was stressed and it just became one big head butting match?  I realize that I am under considerable stress otherwise, and I'm sure that it must be eeking out and leaching into my dog working.  I noticed Nick reacting strongly to me the other day at Mary's, and I'm sure some of it is simply a response to the turmoil that has nothing to do with them at all.  These dogs, they read me well.  I can only hope to become a fraction as skilled in reading them!

Every time I think I have my relationship with Linc figured out it seems like I've set myself up for another growing pain.  I think I have it all figured out, and then I realize I'm having a lapse.  I'll realize I have my shoulders up around my ears, and I'm running around the field shrieking like a banshee and looking like I have no neck.  I'm like the neckless bandit of dog working.  Not pretty.  So thankfully Robin and Julie gently remind me to relax, and next thing I know the whole picture changes.

These growing pains are hard.  But they're worth it I think.  Linc is going to make me a better trainer and handler even if it kills us both.

1 comment:

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