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Monday, April 20, 2009

A Day In the Sun for Me & the Dogs

When the telecommunications industry first came up with the camera phone, I thought it was a real waste. But lately, I'm finding that I'm using it more than I ever thought possible!

My camera phone has brought you pictures of animal babies (check back to last week's blog if you missed it), Pillow Talk (i.e. pillow covers that tell you if the enclosed fluff is 'firm' or 'soft') and today's picture which was taken on the water in Gig Harbor, WA.

You may be asking yourself what the HECK does this have to do with dog training? Well, it got me thinking about mental health - both mine & my dogs.

I definitely subscribe to the theory that team work is not only about the physical and the mental, but also about the in-between times. You know, the times where you just 'are' and there's no highs, no lows, there just 'is'.  

As I think about it, I'm certain I take a few cues from my married life and the successful relationship I have with my husband. The reality is that marriage isn't about the full-blown romance and it isn't all about the dramatic (or traumatic) events. It's more about getting through the every day mundane stuff like grocery shopping, vacuuming, feeding the dogs, etc.

The relationship we have with our dogs is similar. It's not about the winning highs one might experience in an event or how one supports the other when they're sick. Instead, it's mainly about the daily time that exists in every day life. 

In my case, it's about the times my dogs are laying with me while I work on my laptop or how they cruise the yard as I sit here typing & sipping on a glass of wine. It's about appreciating the other's personal quirks and characteristics and about allowing me (or them) to just be who we/they are. 

The lesson I embraced today is that there's a time for training and there's a time to be a trainer, but there are also the other moments in life. 

For example, right now I'm watching as Ru & Burton play a game of stalk & chase through our forest area. I get to watch Pinky, my now old girl, just watch, listen and sniff her way around while Spot moves easily between both groups. I feel that I can watch, learn & appreciate their actions better because I took some time today that was just for me - dogs weren't involved. I had a nice lunch with one of my dearest friends along a beautiful part of the Puget Sounds and then we did a little bit of creative shopping. In other words, I took a few hours to recognize & appreciate the non-doggy part of who I am and in return, I can come back and appreciated my dogs so much more.

I believe that allowing my dogs the same type of opportunities makes them appreciate me more as well. After all, if they're allowed to play in the pond, run through the mud and chase each other in the forest area of our home, I believe they come back happier and more willing & able to work with me as well.

So while today I took time for me, tonight I'm giving my dogs the same enjoyable opportunity that I had - which is to just be themselves, to allow them time to get back to basic enjoyments and to let them run and play in a way that they like. 

Sometimes just letting go brings you closer and today was a perfect example of that. So, if you'd like to strengthen the bond between you and your dog, why not just let things 'be' and temporarily forget the notion of control. It's very refreshing, freeing & enjoyable to all!

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