There are a few reasons I don’t want to have a child. Aside from the feeling that I really don’t want one, at all, there’s also the notion of me as a parent. It would be scary. Imagine if my child had a learning disability of some kind. Oh, the hours I would spend researching it. The seminars I would go to. The methods I would employ to try and improve my child. Imagine if my child was smart! The piano lessons, language learning, book reading, writing encouraging. I don’t think I would be very good at just letting my kid be a kid. I would want my kid to be awesome.
And so it is, instead, this falls to my dogs.
Often in training, we have a great time together – especially Loki and I. He is the most fun to train, even when things aren’t working in the moment and I get a little frustrated, I can appreciate that he’s trying really hard and that he’s going so fast and putting everything he has into what we’re doing. And that he’s still a baby.
But sometimes a problem will pop up. And it will settle in my stomach like a stone weight. And it will feel tight and twisty and anxious. And then I will want to obsessively work on this problem until it goes away, even if my dog is maybe tired and my ankle is sprained, and I’m metaphorically flogging a dead horse. And I’ll try everything I can to not work on the problem but it’s always there, hanging around in the back of my mind, reminding me that it’s a problem that needs to be fixed. I’ll make plans before I fall asleep about how to tackle this problem. Do I do jump grids? Do I do more of the same sequence but adjust my handling? Do I set up a particular scenario with just one bar and try and proof it? Then I have a plan. And as I’m drifting off I remind myself over and over in my mind what I decided so that I don’t wake up having forgotten. And then I wake up, happy with my plan – my plan to give my dog a break, or my plan to only do this one little thing, or my plan to only work on one jump… and I look at Loki who wants to go and work, so we go out, and soon enough the plan is out the window because we were having too much fun, getting too close to success, so close to a breakthrough.
And then I am overcome with a sense of guilt that I couldn’t even stick to one stupid plan… that my dog is puffed again… that I got too intense for my intense little BC… that I forgot that he’s not a machine, he’s a dog.
I know that sometimes this drive to solve problems makes me a better dog trainer. I see a problem and I can come up with 15 ways to try solve it. Of course if none of them work almost instantly, they have no worth continuing so I’ll try something else, which in itself is a problem because an idea might need more than one session to work… But it’s also so damaging. This obsessing, this guilt that follows. I’d like to be able to say: “Well Em, just don’t worry about the problems.” or, “Just stick to your plan” but I’m really not that good. If I have a way to solve a problem and make a plan and the plan is WORKING, of course I want to continue along that path, to see how it unfolds. Or, if the plan is NEARLY working, then I want to continue to tweak it in the moment, to see what happens with each gradual change. It doesn’t make sense to me to just stop no matter where we are in the process, otherwise how can I evaluate that solution’s success?
At the moment our issue is doing the dogwalk backwards (eg. running the opposite way to the way we’ve been training this whole time). It’s not a big deal. It’ll come. It’ll be fine. I know this. But I still can’t help obsessing over it, wanting to do it all the time, to fix it, to try things to make it work…. when maybe, all it needs is time and practise.