Saturday, December 21, 2013

Essays, Dog Tails, and Tears

When I was writing an essay to apply for a summer program, I began thinking about my start in obedience and agility work. I realized that every time I get frustrated or embarrassed because something  went wrong, my dog is still having a good time. Below is an except from the essay:

And we were off. Dobby cleared the first jump with ease as I knew he would.  We moved in sync to the next jump and then I lost him. Instead of seeing the jump, all he could focus on was the bright yellow tunnel up ahead. He tore away from me and ran straight for it. Then to make matters worse he would not come back to me.  Instead he began taking laps around the ring, spraying me with the loose dirt. When it seemed as though he was running low on energy I attempted to regain his focus and complete the course. I brought his attention back to a jump, but he took off again, headed straight for the fence and slithered under.

Attempting to keep myself together I walked toward the exit. I wanted nothing more than to run and hide. I had failed in front of so many people. No one would ever think I was a good handler again. Maybe I should just give up.

I ran straight for my mom who caught my dog after his escape. Attempting to calm my nerves, she repeated, “There is always tomorrow” and “I know you’ll do better next time”.  The tears began to fall. Dobby however jumped at my legs, tail wagging, begging to be picked up. The whole thing was a game in his mind and he was eager to go again.

Whenever we want a good laugh we pull out the video of that first run.  On it, I can see just how far we’ve come as a team. I learned patience is the best option when put in that situation because Dobby prefers running through tunnels over me yelling any day. Seeing Dobby’s tail still wagging when the run was over made me realize that I didn’t start obedience work to earn ribbons. I started to have fun with my dog and that was all that really mattered. If he has a good time, then I should too. Dogs have short lives and I realize that fun is the most important thing I can give him. If it’s not any fun, then what is the point?

Now whenever I'm helping with members of our club, I realize just how true the closing statements in my essay are. Just the other day, one girl's dog stood during a sit stay in our routine and the girl got very upset. She remained upset for the rest of the routine but the dog happily tried to do anything she asked. Watching from outside the ring, the mistake was hardly noticeable unless you know the routine.

Why should we fret over the little mistakes? Our dogs would do anything in the world to please us and we should be happy that they work so hard to do so. Next time your dog makes a mistake, take a moment to step back and realize that its not the end of the world. He still loves you no matter what happens in the ring. You should apply his same philosophy to your life.

 Have you praised your dog today?

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