The Truth; Professionals have bad days too
For almost 10 years i have been working with dogs. The most common thing people say to me when they find out what i do for a living is “You have the best job in the world”
For the most part i have to agree with them. It is pretty awesome spending my days helping dogs. But this mini-story is not about how great it is but instead aims to highlight some of the home truths with in Dog Training. Sometimes even professionals get it horribly wrong!
So let me give you 5 personal examples of how things can just simply not work out.
N0 1. Recall is not an exact science
I take you back to late 2007. I was training Honey Bee in the art of recall which basically meant if she came back i was amazing and if she didnt come back it was all her fault! I was a rookie. Young, stubborn and pig headed. I was also a bloke which doesnt help the cause in this case.
We are walking along the river bank about 2 miles from home. I had driven to the river as it was about an hour before it got dark and i wanted to get home to watch the football (another thing about owning a dog, try not to plan too much ahead). So there we are sun beginning to set, fresh air in my lungs…………………and Honey Bee chasing a Hare along a hedgerow!!!!!
No amount of shouting, screaming, clapping, whistling or praying to the gods of fairness would make her come back. She was gone. I mean out of sight gone. I cursed. A lot.
I searched of course. Got down in the field and followed her path of last sighting. I checked through brambles and down rabbit holes and scoured the horizon like a lighthouse trying to penetrate the darkness. No luck. I had to give up and go home and tell my girlfriend that i had lost the dog and because i was a bloke i was going to do it in a moody “its not my fault” kind of way.
Its at this point that i will tell you we lived in the countryside and there were no insane main roads around. It is also at this point that i tell you that Honey Bee had done this before…..about 16 times before but never at night. This is not an excuse just an honest reflection of how i was feeling at the time.
I got home. Told the Girlfriend. Went back out to look for her but had no luck.
I lost her around 5pm and she came wandering back through the front door (which i had left wide open) covered in mud with the biggest grin on her face but also something akin to “im sorry” in her body language. I wasnt angry (except for at myself) but i did feel frustrated at things going wrong.
I was not a Dog Trainer at this point but i can damn well tell you this incident sparked something inside of me that said i need to get on top of this and now!
The point of this tale you may ask?
Firstly i want you to know that dogs are great but bloody hard work, for everyone! Just because you see a dog walking perfectly to heel might just mean that 5 minutes before hand the owner was yanked over into a puddle and the dog has already had the wrath of a good telling off and is now treading on egg shells!
Secondly, what goes up must come down. A good day will be replaced by a bad day at some point. So what!? Get over it! Learn from your mistakes instead of reacting to them. Your future self will thank you for it!
Honey Bee and I are best friends. She is my confidant and trusted advisor. She does not judge me.
So go and build a better relationship with your dog and sometimes i find the best way is to go and have a mini adventure! Just the two of you.
Tune in next week for No 2 on my list of all time difficult moments as a Dog Trainer
Honey Bee & I in 2007.