Friday, August 26, 2016

Guilt ... in the multi animal house

Some of you have likely realized we live in a pretty full house considering we are merely two human adults.



There are seven dogs vying for training attention at the moment and nine horses hoping for a groom and  work. We'll ignore the parrots, chickens, rabbit and cats who would also welcome more us time I am sure.



Sigh. Time is limited, guilt is high and too often sometimes nobody gets worked, That makes it worse, for them and for me too. So I am strategic. I use planning and scheduling as a tool. I don't let it run me but it is an important step for managing this type of guilt.

Did you know there are types of guilt? There are. An article from 2012 in Psychology Today outlines three types of guilt - guilt for something you did (really when you think about it the likely reason we learn guilt in the first place - to emotionally remind us not to repeat errors!) Apologize and move on. Another type of guilt considered by this article is guilt over something you think you did. Wishing someone ill, then hearing something bad happened would be an example of this. False memories can create this sense of guilt too. So before being overcome with guilt make sure you really have something to feel badly for! Guilt over not doing enough, and guilt over success are other types of guilt we experience.

The type that we need to delve into here though is anticipated guilt, We only have time to work play with one or two animal friends and the guilt over this can stop us doing anything. Rather than enjoying the moment with one we fret over lost time with the others.

Guilt is learned and often has a purpose but not all guilt has a positive reason. Sometimes recognizing that is enough to move forwards. Sometimes it takes more effort.

So understanding guilt as an emotion is important first step but then you need to identify what exactly it is that you feel guilty about. Look for unproductive  guilt as you do this.  I feel faintly guilty every time I play agility with a dog now - but realistically know Brody can't see nearly well enough to be safe. Sigh it sucks but guilt doesn't make it suck less. Share your feelings either by writing them out for you (privately is OK)  or by discussing them with a member of your support network. Build in some reflection time to minimize guilt going forward. Don't be afraid to be proactive.  Brody can't do agility anymore and can't come for long farm walks anymore but I can take him out into our fenced back yard and let him snuffle around for 5 min while I watch him every other day.

Cultivate gratitude for the pressure to do more. I often remind myself how lucky I am to have mature dogs who maintain training without too much work and daily am grateful for the elderly dogs despite the fact I would prefer to be training than home cooking or doing extra cleaning. What can you be appreciative of?



Cut yourself some slack. You are doing the best you can do in the moment. And you know what? Odds are pretty darn good all your animal partners are lucky to have you ... no matter if they get their fair share of you time or not. Nobody but you measures time by a clock. Make it meaningful when you have time and everyone will appreciate it. 

Do something for all - not every day, not even every other day but make sure there is something you do with each animal partner that strengthens your relationship and helps you let go of the guilt.

Here are some ideas:

training in your sport
playing
play training in an alternative sport
snuffle mat 
going for a drive
sharing food
grooming time (not for Brody - hahaha)
anything that appeals from the Fifty Ways to say I love You blog

If you are struggling with this SCHEDULE time - it really won't take long but even saying Thursday is retired horse day made a difference here.



Test it, try it. Ask if you have questions.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Happy Birthday Brody ...

we added another 1825 to the count that totals over 5000 days of living with Brody.

He's very blind, and pretty deaf, and sleeps-a lot.

He's 16 and both fills and breaks my heart daily now.



He still hates being groomed ... and I worry about him hurting himself torquing away from me so his legs are matted and long...sigh

He loves his meals and loves to be with us - it's pretty weird leaving him in the house when we go for walks and to town but it's easier for him. We walk around the  yard together every day and that's often quite the adventure for him - tall plants, hills, rocks all stop him sometimes.

He is game - he is so very game ... He falls down, and up,  the backyard steps (not house stairs he is carried for them now) and shakes it off then comes at them again ... I really should get a clip of him doing the stairs - he is super man about them - bing bang bounce in impressive leaps (unless he crashes). He eats as if every meal might be his last - lying flat on the floor savouring each bite gleefully.



I miss my constant sidekick when I'm outside (and here I'm out or working online or asleep pretty much) but Brody is nearly always asleep at my feet if he can be. I miss my fabulous training buddy - what a  play dog he was.

I am so very glad to have my teacher, my friend, still with me. If ever there was a dog to remind you that they are partners in the journey - that forcing your will on them is not going to be fun - Brody is that dog. That Love the One you Got dog ... he was willing to do so much together that he probably wouldn't have chosen to do (agility, media, humane ed and more) but doing it with respect for him was important.

Regionals, qualifying for Nationals and picking up pretty ribbons every time we went

Happy Birthday dear Brody. I wish you all the good, always.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A peril of social media ....

No not the bullying, or cyberstalking, nor even the never ending parade of food making me hungry ALL. THE. TIME.

It's the grief

the people murdered, robbed, with lives destroyed  in myriad ways

a friend of a friends little cousin is facing some terrible cancer

a horse I was watching hoping she'd be pulled from a kill buyer ended up shipped for meat ... sigh


it's relentless, it's timeless
 

and then there are the ones who rip a little piece of my heart out

The beautiful Penny, no longer with us. taken by her human Tanya   


My heart was so full of grief on hearing the news about Penny my eyes leaked (the loss was sudden and unexpected and lovely Tanya did everything possible and then a little more). Too recently Holly lost Parker - a duo who inspired me to keep working with Sally  as much as Susan Garrett and Buzz did. Lisa lost Walter a dog dear to my heart. Joanne lost Georgie... the list could go on and on and does.  Social media reminds us of our connections to each other. There is perhaps nothing to both dread, and value, more about it.

Tanya, Holly, Lisa, Andrea, Joanne, Kathryn, Devon, Sheila ... the list is long, and incomplete but  my heart aches every time I type, and say,  the words "so sorry for your loss, you were so very lucky to have loved each other". But repetition makes them true not trite. My eyes have leaked for each loss and I know they will leak more. (rotten allergies!!)  I will not get tired of reminding myself  that the hardest part of love is the inevitable loss that comes with it. The opportunity to connect to people in such trying, impossible times is a gift.  Such is the power of social media.



Penny always reminded me of Sally.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Doing. Is not teaching. It just isn't.

So.

I have a new teaching gig.


Teaching teachers  in an online format. I've taught many teachers over the years but  face to face and either for a very short time (workshops) or over the course of  years (teachers in my schools). This is new. This has me thinking.


Because I can effectively teach, or do whatever,  does not mean I can teach you how to teach. Because I have a national title does not mean I should be teaching a dog sport. If my horse won some blingy fabulous class at some super duper show that does not mean I can teach you to do the same thing. Sigh.

So, without further ado ...

Good teachers are

10. Enthusiastic about the subject matter.  The topic might be teaching scent work, how to post on a horse or mathematical equations.The subject matters not one little tiny bit. The enthusiasm does. The passion does. Passion is infectious.

9. Able to step outside their traditional way of thinking to present an alternative way of accomplishing something. Not everyone learns the same way. The flexibility required to be an excellent teacher is staggering at times. When you are working with a person trying to teach an animal that ability to present an alternative to your normal way of doing things may become very very potent indeed.



8. Teaching all students no matter if they are the smartest. most talented, wealthiest,  or most wonderful person in the room. Appreciating that you can respect someone you may, or may not, like becomes critical to good, joyful teaching.Every student deserves to learn.

7.  Patient ...So so very patient. At least able to realize when they are getting frayed so they can step back and regroup. Yelling and teaching have gone together a very long time. They shouldn't.

6. Setting the bar high,  then a little higher.  I am not talking about unattainable goals. That is demotivating, depressing and even cruel.  Helping students achieve all that they can is a whole other matter and if your students can surpass your highest achievement what a wonderful compliment that is to you!

5.  Always learning. Always and forever. For your students, for yourself and for the love of learning. Michelangelo said it simply "I am still learning". Me  too, and this I hope for you too.

Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_learning.html
Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_learning.html

4. Allow errors and mistakes. Trite, but true - we learn from mistakes. Teachers and students both have to be allowed and able  to make, identify and work on gaps, holes and down right mistakes.


3.  Knowledgeable ... do I even have to say this? Stay a chapter or two ahead of students. Know where to find answers to questions that you aren't certain of.

2. Positive, and no I don't mean all Pollyanna and sunshine and fake rah rah sis boom bah. I mean helping people build from strengths not tearing them down. Scaffolding works. Identify how to best help students get where they want to go and teach one needed piece at a time. I, personally, love mastery learning - one brick at a time gets built. 

1. Advocates for  students. (Human and animal). : "take a break" "try again" "what can we learn from that".  are what you'll hear good teachers telling students ... or  "The ring needs better light" "Please wait your turn" "please keep your dogs under control when taking breaks".to others


and good teachers are professional ... they don't slag other instructors, whine about students endlessly, sit on their phones during lessons .... you get my drift ...

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

I never was promised a rose garden ...

But wow did we win the lotto with Thea ...


I've blogged about Thea here   and about agility with her in many spots  including here (the video is so Thea in many ways). Thea has taught me so much ...



She is brave, funny, opinionated, friendly, keen, athletic, affectionate, empathetic and smart. The list of adjectives for her could go on and on and all would be positive and loving. She has the most amazing capacity to charm the world.



She is also ill. Quite ill. Frighteningly, heartbreaking ill.

Her kidneys have decided not to function. Sadly she needs her kidneys to be functioning better than they are.  Our amazing canine nutritionist designed a home cooked diet for Thea a month ago when she was first diagnosed and she rallied incredibly for the month. Wooing and asking to go for walks. Loving life and being loved.  Then Monday night she was sick. Tuesday she didn't want to eat. Today she was at the vets on fluids. Tonight she had three long french fries (one of her favourite treats) when she got home. Back to the vet tomorrow for more fluids if I think they did anything to help and then we'll make a plan.

This little dog has done so much - Pet Project work, Saving Dinah work,  All  About Pets Shows for years, agility,  a little scenting but mostly sharing her huge heart with the world including many many fosters of all species. I hope the hard coming for us is easy and peaceful for her. I hope we have another miracle and she hasn't used up all her lives quite yet.


Her compatriot Walter is not well this week either. I know he and his human would appreciate good thoughts. They certainly have Thea's and mine.





Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Cred Factor

So... sigh

What is credibility?

Good old google tells me it is "the quality of being trusted and believed in". 

Where does it come from?

That can be a tougher nut to crack. In animal sports it can be earned by competition placement, titles and great big ribbons. Some people believe without titles one shouldn't teach. 




But if one teaches and one's students do well isn't that also worth trust and belief? I'd posit yes. Actually if one's students learn I'd theorize that credibility is achieved. 



Sometimes I wonder about people. 

Often I wonder about people.  When you think about it I get paid to wonder about people so that's probably a good thing. There was a trainer, judge, competitor in a non agility dog sport awhile back claiming that unless one had a multiplicity of titles and was a pro one shouldn't be teaching.



As a teacher of a whole lot of things I know this isn't quite right. I have taught many a person to breath through, and out of, panic attacks. I have never personally experienced a full blown panic attack.  I have spent a great deal of time being truly present with people in the midst of them. I have observed and studied and spoken to many people about them. I have had many people going into crisis ask for me to be with them over people with much more experience.

 National titles are lovely, big ribbon walls are impressive,  but the best teacher for you may or may not have either of those things. They should have dedication - both to learning to be better teachers and to helping you be the best you can, or want, to be. 




Finding the right instructor is HARD. Cred for you may not be the same as what earns cred in my book. Like so much else I blog about it really does depend. For me, I want instructors willing to listen to me, respect my animal partner but who can push me to excel. as well. Thanks to my horse sport life I never think I have outgrown the benefit of a second set of eyes and ideas but I have determined some criteria for what earns cred to me. 


  • Good eyes - that are on the student not their  phone. 
  • A kind and generous personality - one that wants excellence 
  • Honest - there is no use in telling me "good good good" when there are errors being made 
  • Experience playing the game I'm playing - I don't care if you aren't at my level but you'd better have tried what you teach at some level
  • A willingness to say "I don't know - let's find out"  my personality asks questions - and once I trust my second eyes I ask them lots of questions - I don't expect absolute knowledge but i do expect respect for my curiosity
  • An ability to express things in other ways if i just don't get it

Give me this and I will be excited about working together!!





Saturday, January 16, 2016

I'm back!!

Oh the stress of being locked out of blogger.
I was sad.
I was shocked.

I was mad.

But all is forgiven.

I'm BACK!!

Had about 4 blogs I wanted to write - hopefully they'll all come back to me.


gratotous house shot as blogger has updated and lets me use phone photos now - who knew?