Wednesday, September 5, 2007

What Day Is It?

Wow. Did I have my dates mixed up or what. Always somewhat calendar challenged, I really goofed last night. I thought we were at the Training Center to practice loading and unloading our dogs from a Metro Transit bus. Instead, we were supposed to be at Parkers Lake for a field trip - walking our dogs while ducks, chihuahua's, people, bikes, fishermen and rollerbladers did their best to distract our dogs.

Due to my mix-up, Belle and I arrived late - which meant she had no time for "warm-up". I had my hands full trying to get her focused with all the wonderful new things around her. The only good news is, I was early arriving at the T.C., which meant that I didn't miss the field trip completely. I also realized that I need a lot more lake walking. Belle had the most trouble with loose leash walking because she kept wanting to catch the dogs ahead of us. She did do a great job on the steps - both up and down. Retrieving stuff in the sand, however, became an exercise in true grit - mine. For obvious reasons, she didn't want to retrieve the pill bottle from the sand. Instead, she decided that retrieving it required massive amounts of digging and then rolling on top of the bottle. Aargh, we were both frustrated at the end of it. Belle - more so, because even though the gently lapping water was only three feet away, I wouldn't let her go swimming.

It's really hard to be on cue when you start out frustrated. It's hard to encourage your dog to do their best when you're not at your best. By the end, I'd managed to gentle my voice - and to lose the edge that kept creeping in when Belle struggled with a cue that she can normally perform with ease. We're partners, though. We've come a long way together. And I learned something from Belle that bears repeating. Despite her frustration, despite her sense I wasn't at my best - she never once took me to task. She just kept trying to find a way to make it right.

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