Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Heartache Dog

I just finished going to a seminar with Jane Killion, and I have a totally kick-ass post coming hopefully soon about creating an operant dog, except I'm tired and a little brain fried (okay, a lot brain fried) and I really shouldn't be allowed near my blog. Except I want to tell you what happened with Maus.

For those of you who don't know Maus, he's the dog who should have been perfect and wasn't. It turns out that the Powers That Be give you the dog you need, not the dog you want (except when they give you Piper so that you don't go crazy).  Everyone tells me that Maus has come a long way. He wags his tail and goes up to new people. He doesn't flip out at fire hydrants. He has titles. Really crazy dogs don't have titles, I guess.

This picture of me and Maus at the seminar courtesy of this crazy chick I know. 
You should totally read her blog if you have a reactive dog or like competition obedience 
or think corgi mixes with miss-matched ears are cute.  

Jane Killion had never met me or Maus before today. About thirty seconds into our working session, she said, "Do you see? This dog is really biddable, but he's very full of fear, and he's working very hard through it."

Do you see how incredible this sentence is to me? Maus is not okay. Acting okay is not the same as being okay. In one single phrase, Jane affirmed my own assessment of my dog and gave me a whole new perspective on my capabilities as a trainer. I have often said that Maus is the bravest of my dogs, not because he he lacks fear, but because everything scares him, and he tries so damn hard anyway. Because he loves me and trusts me that much. And I have been torturing my dog with his own courage by listening to what other people say instead of listening to what Maus is telling me.

I feel like crying, but I'm not sure if it's because of what I've put Maus through or because I'm NOT CRAZY (about this, anyway) or because I have a chance to fix my mistake and that is the BEST NEWS EVER! I am so lucky to have a dog that loves me and doesn't give up on me even when I'm an idiot. Thank you, Maus.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. You're the best dog in the whole world.

Photo of me making out with Maus by Sarah Thornton.