In reviewing past posts I recognize I acknowledge milestones in my dogs accomplishments including (and celebrating, but not too over the top!) the passage of another year. Each dog received a birthday post this year. So you probably know, if you are a reader, that my current canine trio are now 5, 7 and 9. (the picture above was taken when Lily, now 9, was a wee pup and shows that even then, at the very beginning of evaluating my goal to become a dog trainer, I was surrounded by my pack of kids and animals — some things never change!) So the dogs now are old enough to be reliable, trustworthy, trained; young enough for me to not be too stressed about age related decline.
Last night my daughters and I watched old videos. The favorite was one of my oldest daughter, now nearing 16, as a very small infant in a series of vignettes which included some video of my beloved Teisha — the dog I credit with teaching me the majority of what triggered me onto the path of dog training. I hadn’t seen this video in a very very long time, and it was very heartwarming to see from the distance of time how very close that dog and I were without effort. In one shot, I’m sitting in a den with my parents, video taping ex husband (master of the long take), infant daughter and 3 dogs — Teisha, Maeya and Teisha’s son, Nicholas, who lived with my parents for his 14 years) and my foot is just touching Teisha’s back as she is curled up on the floor sleeping near me. She was by this time totally deaf (nearly 12 years at the time of the video)but so well connected visually that no one would know unless told and then tested it by banging noises when she wasn’t looking!
So I get to thinking as I watch this how critically important I see this measure of change in the bigger picture. While I may focus on the micro change, i.e., the dog increasing duration in a “stay” cue by seconds or minutes — I also pay heed to the more macro, i.e, the passage of another year, to assess “where was I last year, where am I now” approach to all things — training of dogs, development of kids, business level, relationships, size of the tree I planted on my front lawn (it happens to be a catulpa tree which grows fast so it’s “funner” to measure its growth!), etc.
If you’re frustrated with a particular “sticky wicket” in your approach to modifying a behavior — whether of your partner, dog, kid, colleague, etc. — slow down, measure in increments that are meaningful, be strong, and keep at it! It really does help!