Sunday, April 15, 2007

Time - Who's Side Is It On?

Time. We use it to measure so many things. How well we manage time in our work and in our lives has a huge impact on our stress levels, well-being, and ultimate success - however we define success.

It's no different with Belle. Only her success isn't dependent upon her ability to manage time, it's dependent on mine. Yesterday was a classic example of what happens when I don't manage time well. I volunteered to go to the Training Center yesterday to stuff participant bags for the upcoming Run and Romp. But I arrived 20 minutes late instead of 20 minutes early. Most of the other volunteers were there already. Including some of Belle's favorite doggy friends. I compounded the mistake by not spending enough time with Belle getting her focused and on task before I began stuffing bags. Instead, I had her go to bed on a rug, told her to stay and dove right in. For being such a pessimist, I can really be an optimist in the most obtuse way possible.

It went down hill from there.

Belle proceeded to give a perfect demonstration of what happens when a trainer is clueless about her dogs needs. She wouldn't stay on the rug. Then, when kenneled, whined and barked and did her best impression of a poorly trained dog that she could. I deserved it. I set her up to fail, and then didn't give her the opportunity to get back on track and be the great girl I know she is and can be. How unfair.

The worst part is this isn't the first time I've erred in this manner. I was late for my first Perfect Puppy class. Talk about being the Poster Pup for Flunky Foster Homes - that was Belle! So what's my take-away from this experience?

1) Be early - no matter what happens. If it means showing up with mud all over my pants (that was what made me late this time), so be it - it's more important that Belle has a chance to succeed.

2) Be early - assume the worst can happen and will. Traffic at a stand still? No problem, I left early.

3) Be early - be prepared! Pack Belle's pack the night before. Don't assume it already has everything she'll need.

Finally, to end this self-flagellation by noting that Belle did have some success yesterday, we had a great three mile walk in the afternoon. We passed several dogs and although Belle didn't keep a perfect focus, she kept enough focus on me to do several loop-di-loops while the dogs were passing us. Once they were past, she didn't continue to try and turn around to watch their progress. For the two of us - that was a real success.

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