Setting Us Up For Success

Some of you are already aware, but I am so excited I have to re-share the news. Are you ready?

Ahem.

Shiva won first place in Pup Love’s Tricks for Treats Contest! Woooo hooooo!

I still can’t believe it. There were so many awesome videos starring some very impressive dogs. I didn’t think Shiva stood a chance – I mean, we didn’t even perfect the handstand. If you haven’t seen any of the other entries, make sure to check them out when you have some time. Maybe it’s wrong to pick favourites, but I loved this one by Elli of Identity: V. We’ve been working on a basic retrieve for so long and Shiva still has trouble bringing back anything other than a tug toy. Elli is a true professional! Not to mention, super-cute.

I think the best thing I took away from this contest is that life with a dog really is all about fun. Because I’m human, I tend to get caught up in the details. It’s easy to forget what really matters in favour of worrying about everything that isn’t perfect. Agility has been an endless source of highs and lows for us. When Shiva focuses and performs each obstacle perfectly, I feel euphoric. When she decides the “right way” is boring and takes off to design her own course, I feel like the worst handler in the world. The thing is, regardless of how many bars she knocks or how many times she runs through that dang tunnel out of turn, Shiva has the best time ever every single day. She doesn’t care if she does it right according to the set rules. She just wants to have a good time. If there is one thing my dog is good at, it’s enjoying herself. Shiva knows how to turn the most boring walk around the block into a fantastic adventure.

Shiva may never win any ribbons, but there is no dog out there that has more fun than she does.

Trick training for us has always been about working together as a team. Okay, part of it was about tiring her out so she would sleep, but the rest really has been about accomplishing something fun. It’s so exciting watching her learn a new behaviour. I can almost see the synapses crackling in her brain as she tries to figure out how to earn that piece of cheese.

I’ve never been very good at strict criteria or precision. It just doesn’t matter to me if she rolls over in the same way every time or if sometimes she rolls over half way, does a funky spin, shakes her legs in the air, and then completes the trick. I am not saying there is anything wrong with being precise, of course. Obviously that’s more impressive and helps with other things. Especially if one participates in obedience trials. It’s just not important for us. Sometimes I feel guilty about that as I’m not helping her become the super-dog she could be.

“Great dog, too bad about the handler.”

But you know what? I don’t care any more. From this day forward I am going to focus a lot more on the fun. Shiva has been trying to tell me something these last two years and I am finally going to start listening. I am hereby changing my criteria. I am going to start setting us both up for success. A great day is no longer going to be judged by how well we did adhering to the parameters of the course, it is now going to be determined by how many times I throw back my head and laugh.

With a dog like Shiva, every day is bound to be a winner!

59 thoughts on “Setting Us Up For Success

  1. Every morning, my dogs wake up with such enthusiasm, I say to them, “OK, let’s get this party started.”

    Yes, everyday is a party when you’re a dog. What a wonderful way to embrace life.

    Shiva sounds like she’s a party animal 🙂

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    • I love that philosophy! I’ve been trying to think of some sort of mantra to prep myself for all the things that make me nervous, like agility runs, difficult conversations at work, and breathing. I may have to “borrow” yours.

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      • YAY! This is exactly WHY you took first place… the whole purpose of the contest was to promote bonding with your dog, and we were looking for a team that was obviously having an awesome time together. Not only were *you* upbeat and positive, but Shiva’s tail was swinging back and forth so fast I was waiting for it to fall off! You guys were very clearly having a great time, both of you, and that was first place material to a ‘T’.

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  2. congrats!! that’s so exciting! see you must be doing stuff right with her. please do keep us posted on her progress. I really want to work on getting some videos of Luna and her tricks, just need to find the time. I should first start with a list of the ones she knows thus far.
    Have a great wednesday
    Anna
    http://www.akginspiration.com

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    • Thanks, I think so too!!

      And I agree that you need to get this stuff on video. It doesn’t have to be perfect but it is fantastic to have something to look back on as the years go by.

      Also, Luna is so graceful and pretty I would love to watch her videos over and over again. 🙂

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  3. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!! That was my entire week’s worth of exclamation points but it was totally worth it because that is so great! I am so proud of you and Shiva! Way to go! (Oh shoot, now I’ve used three from next week’s stash.)

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    • Thanks!! Shiva and I are very honoured!! I think I am well beyond my quota at this point as well, probably am already into next year at this point. Oh well!! Who’s going to stop us??

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  4. Woohoo!! That’s so great! I just taught my dogs how to “wave” last night and I was pretty proud of that … Shiva puts that simple trick to shame!! Awesome video – you guys totally deserve it.

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    • Please. There was a time Shiva couldn’t even sit on cue. Wave took us a little while to learn, it didn’t come easy. Teaching a dog is HARD and takes a lot of patience. So you should totally be proud of yourselves! It’s party time!

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  5. That is totally awesome!! You rock and so does Shiva!

    I admit to getting frustrated with Delilah when she doesn’t run the agility the way I want, so I am going to do my best to follow your rule.

    Congrations on winning the contest, although I have to say, you and Shiva were already winners in my book. 🙂

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    • It is very frustrating at times and the more irritated I get, the more she blows me off. I’m hoping if I just relax and concentrate on the fun instead of the performance, we will finally make it to that trial!

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  6. Congratulations!!!

    Someone says that happiness isn’t something that we can gain from outside as it comes from our inner heart; it all depends on whether we want ourselves to be happy or sad.

    I remember when I was much much younger, Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ was everywhere.
    So, let’s start the party and have fun!!!

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    • Many people believe happiness is a choice we make. I am not altogether sure that is true, some people seem to be born with a predisposition for melancholy. However, I do think it comes from inside rather than out.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  7. Wow, that’s great news, congratulations. Well done, I’m really happy for you. I know you weren’t expecting it, you made it clear in a previous post. I’m glad Shiva proved you wrong on this one and whoever judged this competition saw how special she is 🙂
    I love the philosophy you’ve embraced and are sharing at the end of the post. I think it’s something we should all remember in our lives as pet owners.

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    • I agree, especially when it comes to pets. They are so much better at seeing the positive side of things than we willy humans are. But the reason we have them in our lives in the first place is to enjoy each other, right?

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  8. Congrats! I like your perspective about having fun. We’ve been so bogged down lately with training and trying to have them be so polite in public, sometimes it is nice to remember that dogs just live to have fun.

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    • Exactly. Shiva and I have a lot on the go right now and it’s easy to forget to relax and enjoy the ride.

      Thanks!

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  9. Good job! The judges were right. You really did a great job of “throwing a party” every time Shiva did a trick. No wonder she was having so much fun!

    Is this what they mean when they call something “fun for the whole family?”

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    • Thanks! We seem to work much less hard these days, fortunately. Now that we have all the foundation stuff down we can concentrate more on just playing around.

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  10. Oh congratulations to Shiva! That’s a wonderful, wonderful achievement – no wonder you’re proud of her! 🙂

    Yes, I do love how dogs retain that “childlike wonder” & excitement with the simplest things – like I love how Honey can get SO excited over the same things every day!! 🙂 It does make you sit back and think about the really important things in life…

    Hey – I hope you guys are working on your dance routine! Now with Shiva’s winning streak, I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!! 🙂

    Hsin-Yi

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    • That’s one of the things I envy the most in my dog. I wish I could view every new opportunity with such joy and fearlessness.

      We are definitely working on our routine and have a training video on the way. I still have to decide on music but it is coming together, don’t you worry!

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  11. Congratulations! After watching your video, I am not one bit surprised that you won! Shiva is a very talented girl, and I’m betting a riot to live with. You shouldn’t have any trouble with your new focus! 🙂

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    • Thanks! I am trying to look at it that way: a riot as opposed to just a pain in the butt. Some days are easier than others. 😉

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  12. And who broke the news first? WHO? 🙂

    The Eldest thought it was an awesome video. I hope she doesn’t try to make Our Best Friend weave between her legs– there will be injuries.

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    • LOL. I was so confused!

      OBF is a little too large for the Eldest, I take it? Even I have to lift my legs fairly high in order to move forward. Your Eldest should try teaching a crawl first. How adorable would weaving by crawling be?

      Thanks again!

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