Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The story of 8.

This is late, was supposed to be posted this morning. But it was hard to write, and it has been a very emotional week.

In any case here goes:

Blog Action Day: If I knew then, what I know now....

I would appreciate my dog(s) more. I would always put them first. Their feelings, their physicality, their mental stability.  I would never take for granted my dogs ability to play this game. I would love them always for who they are, and not who I want them to be. 

I have owned 8 dogs in my life. They have all helped me to become the person, and the trainer I am today. Each of them have taught me about training, and about life. But looking back over their lives, in real life, and in agility they almost all have one thing in common. I didn't listen.

My first agility dog was fat, and out of shape. And still she played for as long as I asked her. I am embarrassed that I allowed my dog to jump, and twist, and play agility when she clearly was not in the shape to do it. She was taught obedience with a choke chain. And still loved me. Dogs are so forgiving. Despite my stupidity she lived to be old, and died a normal old dog kind of death. 

My second agility dog was another Shepherd- who mentally was not able to cope in a trial setting. And yet I persisted. Until she told me in no uncertain terms that she was not playing- by literally leaving the ring every time I put her in one.  Poor Kate. She was completely devoted me. So much in fact that she would face her biggest fears just because I asked her to. I was young, and didn't know that I should always listen to my dog. 

My next dog was Wicca. Wild and Crazy from the start. I loved the rush, the adrenaline. I was so in love with her intensity and willingness to work. But more than half of her career was spent in frustration. Her lack of foundation skills set us up for failure right from the start. And my lack of understanding didn't help either. Finally, more than half way through we started to figure it out. And now it's over. Physically she is broken. In part to her break neck speed, and no care for herself. If I could go back in time I would kick myself in the ass. I would have trained my dog better, safer, and appreciated every time we stepped to the line together. It bothers me that I can't remember our last run together.

And then came Sam. Lots of heart. He was the dog I have the most regret for. Rescued as an adult. Loads of potential. Until he was lame. And I gave up when the vets couldn't find an answer. Until it went on for more than a year. And then I tried again. And then it was too late. That sucked. I will never give up again. I will never just take one persons opinion and treat it as the correct one. I know in my heart that I did what I could for him. But my mind took a lot longer.  I still wonder had I known to look for people like Dr.Devall, or Canine Bodyworkers would I have been able to save him?

Vito was next. This is another kick in the ass. First off, I really should not have kept him. But I loved him, and didn't trust that I could find him the right home. So he stayed. And again I did not listen to the dog. When he said that tugging, and collar games were too intense for him I ignored it. When he said that he would rather not try and get it wrong, I encouraged him to work through it. Vito is way smarter than me, and again it took me a while to listen to my dog. But I listened, and have let him be who he wants to be.

Boonie. I have no regrets with this dog at all. He was the first dog that I got it right with. A damaged soul that took time, patience and unconditional love. When he told me he couldnt' handle the stress I stopped immediately. I am proud of what I was able to accomplish with him, but I am even more proud of our relationship. He was not an easy dog to figure out.

The Princess. I so badly wanted to do everything right and help her to be the best that she could that I often forgot who she was. I did every crate game, every motiovational game, every bit of ground work and foundation that I could. And I ended up with a pretty great dog- but it took a while to build an actual relationship with her. Relationship needs to come before foundation. Duh. I've since fixed that- but wow, that was a pretty big thing to skip.

And finally Brit. Everything that I've learned from my other dogs, and experiences have been put into her. And so far I've not screwed her up. I've allowed her time to love me, and have confidence, and mature, and finally had patience. And it feels good. To have done something right. lol. 

So basically if I had do-overs I would listen to my dogs. That's the single most important thing that I've learned in all the years I've been training dogs. And had I learned that at the beginning I think that my life, and my dogs lives would have been very different.


18 comments:

charlene and Storm said...

wow that was a very brave and honest post to write, takes alot of courage to admit your faults to others xxx

Diana said...

Wow, you are way to hard on yourself. Dont beat yourself up so much on mistakes. Mistakes happen, dogs get this better than we do.

andrea said...

great post ...

Love "Relationship needs to come before foundation." every dog who lives with a person who really drinks that in will say thank you. I so agree.

i'm sorry you are having such an emotional week -thank you for pulling this together!

Jules said...

Very powerful post.

Blazingstar said...

Great post, but you are definitely too hard on yourself! Your dogs get 100 times more than most dogs do (in training, daily care, healthcare, exercise, collars (!), etc). And you are an incredibly committed dog owner who is in it for the dogs, not for the ribbons.

Cornerstone said...

I so appreciate reading this. The fact that you can look back and know exactly what happened with each dog in itself tells you however how much you love and care for them and the life you are giving them. Kudos. I want a number of people I can think of to read this!

Great-thank you.

Anonymous said...

Although it appears like I'm beating myself up I'm not. I've accepted my past mistakes with my dogs and have moved forward. I wrote about them to hopefuly help someone else to maybe change the way they think.

I love my dogs and know I am a good dog owner. :) I just wish that I had learned about patience and listening to my dogs a long time ago.

Taryn said...

Your heart has always been in the right place and that is what counts! Your dogs definitely lead wonderful lives.

Koping Weims said...

Amanda great post...and I have done the look back and what I could have done different with my dogs. Love the listen to your dog, I too have learned that the hard way but have completely done it with the last two dogs in my house, and loving what I am seeing from the young two....you are a great dog owner and thank you for posting this..
Julia

Elf said...

I've had "only" 6 dogs, and only 4 of them in agility, but it is so true that they are all SO different, no matter what we hope or expect from them. I sometimes look at myself and my four sisters, how different we all are despite all the things that are the same. And if you can get this many variations from the same parents, same upbringing, same schools, I don't know why we ever expect all our very different dogs to be the same. I fall into that trap every time, though. :-) So what I'm saying is, you're not alone in having gone through that. I also love that you take a chance on so many different dogs.

Michelle Larson said...

That was an amazing post <3

sandra said...

Thanks Amanda, this is what I needed. I listen to my dogs but sometimes I doubt myself and what I hear because others tell me different even that I know what I hear and see is right. I needed this to confirm what I am hearings,! And if I come bac as a dog I want to be one of yours!

Laurie R. said...

As long as we continue to learn and they continue to teach and forgive us our sometimes clumsy ways, we are meant to share our lives.

Jenilee said...

It's good to be honest...but always remember you did the best you could with the knowledge you had at the time. Your intention was true...and you learned from your experiences. Remember that too!!!

Jenilee said...

It's good to be honest...but always remember you did the best you could with the knowledge you had at the time. Your intention was true...and you learned from your experiences. Remember that too!!!

Jenilee said...

It's good to be honest...but always remember you did the best you could with the knowledge you had at the time. Your intention was true...and you learned from your experiences. Remember that too!!!

AareneX said...

New visitor (via Mel and Tess)here: this is a very insightful and honest post.

and yes. I needed to hear it.

Thanks.

--Aarene

Anonymous said...

As an endurance rider, I feel we are faced with exactly the same scenerios as you describe. I've often looked back on my "horse history" and had some of the same thoughts. I'm recommending this as a post to read to EVERYONE - I've posted on my blog, facebook, twitter......hopefully it allows all of us to consider what we ask our companions to do for us.

Mel - from bootsandsaddles4mel.blogspot.com. Because Google is being stupid and not letting me sign in.