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