On Monday Pamela of Something Wagging shared her thoughts about confidence and how adding joy can make one brave. I’ve talked a lot about my cowardice, especially in comparison with my dog.
Shiva is the bravest creature I know. She never lets fear get in the way of achieving her goals. I think this inner courage is one of the biggest reasons our reactivity training has been so successful. All she needed was a little confidence. Given a little bit of time and a lot of encouragement, Shiva thrived. Nowadays, she is practically infamous for her enthusiasm and almost death-defying stunts. She doesn’t worry about what may go wrong before she leaps onto the teeter. She just jumps and trusts everything will be okay.
And if she fails, she tries again until she gets it right.
It’s been stunning to watch. I’ll admit, sometimes I still cry when I see her soliciting pets from a stranger. I hope to shed even more tears for the same reason in the future.
As I’ve harped on incessantly, Shiva’s one last bastion of fear is the water. Considering that when we adopted her she wouldn’t even approach her water bowl without trepidation, she has conquered a lot. But we live in a province surrounded by ocean. And swimming is the one athletic activity I feel I perform with a modicum of ability. She has kicked fear in the butt so many times now that I hate to see her continue to struggle.
I had a moment of training brilliance this weekend at a local provincial park. While my PH hung out with his fishing pole, Shiva and I fooled around by the shore of Long Lake. The rocky beach was covered with sticks, which are Shiva’s favourite thing to fetch. I threw the stick closer and closer to the water until she was retrieving it out of the shallow end. After all this success, I threw it a bit deeper in, where the water was dark.
This is when Shiva hesitated.
Instead of going in to get the stick myself, or telling her it was okay and ending the game, this time I decided just to wait her out. Shiva is not only brave, but stubborn. When motivated, she doesn’t give up. I hoped that if I gave her some space, she would screw up her courage and go for it. Since I happened to have my camera on me, I shot this video of Shiva’s decision process.
Shaping wins again! It’s not easy for me to do, but perhaps I need to back off a little in the future. Encourage her to go for it and then let her wade out on her own.
Now if only I could channel a little of Shiva’s bravery in my own life…