Monday, October 19, 2009

Peggy's Question

My friend Peggy asks a very good question. What is your favorite part of working with your dog: The "light bulb" moment when your dog understands what you want him to do and does it, or the "dancing with your dog" moment when you and your dog are in perfect harmony as a team?

I have changed my answer to that question almost daily since she asked. I love the challenge of trying to explain to Jazz what I want him to do. He will almost always do what I ask, if he can understand what I'm asking. I get so much joy out of seeing him figure out what I want. That moment when he tests his theory by tentatively offering a behavior is so darn cute! When I say "Good boy" and give him a treat, he is so happy. Each additional time he gets it right increases his confidence. He loves to be right. So I think I love the "light bulb" moment the most.

Then I think about the first time we ran an agility course together. I saw him glance my way to get direction and continue on the course with me. I could not believe he was looking to me without being asked. I felt like I had a dog on a very fine string at the end of my hand. It was a wonderful feeling. We finished the course together and both of us were jumping around and grinning. The more experience we gain as a team, the better it feels. We are learning to trust each other and work together. When it works well it is such a comfortable and sweet feeling. So maybe I like the "dancing with my dog" feeling best.

Finally, I've decided that the two are really part of the same experience. The joy of learning new things is what got me started training Jazz. The fun we have as we learn is wonderful, but would be less exciting if we were not building toward that great teamwork feeling. Each step of the way has been fun and exciting. I didn't think either of us was capable of as much as we have achieved. Every dog person I know keeps repeating the same thing. It's the journey that counts, not the destination.

Which part of the journey is your favorite?

1 comment:

  1. I think my favorite part is seeing my dog perform with total confidence and joy, either in training or in the ring. It's such a rush to realize I have successfully communicated with a different species and convinced him to do some crazy thing like go-outs. And like you said, each step strengthens "the dance."