Words create reality, my friends. What we think is how we feel, and the stories we tell ourselves become reality. It is my experience that some of us just love a good tragedy and enjoy becoming the main character in that sad story. Others prefer a good soap opera and so run amuck creating drama.
Yes, life does happen *to* us but if you think about it you will see that all of us use whatever happens as a plot in our personal life story.
How is this related to training dogs? Well, consider the titles of these life stories:
"Confessions of a Terrible Dog Trainer"
"My Life With an Anxious Dog"
"Barking and Lunging: Living on the Edge"
"Disconnected: My Failure to Establish a Bond with My Dog"
How would you like to be the dog in those life stories? I wouldn't. If those sound like your life story titles, you need to re-author your story, friend.
Dogs deserve to be the stars of good and positive narratives and that is our responsibility. They are characters in our life stories and so please -- ascribe good qualities, author happy narratives, and leave the problem-saturated story lines to professional soap opera writers...
Perhaps you are saying, "...but my dog does "xyz" so I cannot help it -- that is really my story". Wrong. Your dog may DO "xyz" but you CHOOSE to make that your story.
Moving on to a related topic -- Selective Attention. Just as we get to author our life's narrative, so to do we get to decide what to focus on in our lives. Some people notice all the bad and ruminate and dwell and so on -- Debbie Downers, for sure. It is not "denial" to choose to focus on other things -- and if you want to sit in the piss pot, well -- go right ahead but no complaining if you find yourself alone in there.
Some of us would much rather focus on what is going well and not run around like Chicken Little wringing our hands/wings and worrying about the sky falling in. First of all, the sky probably is not really falling in and second, if it is, there is not much to be done about it and worrying is only robbing us of any joy that might be left before a cloud lands on our heads.
I struggle with people who just want to talk about problems -- all that does is keep us stuck in our problems. I would rather focus on solutions and progress, but I have found that some people just get really, really attached to problems and want to suck everyone else down with them -- we shall henceforth call these people "Quicksand" -- call encouragement from the sidelines but for goodness sakes -- do not get too close!
And again, if you want to stand in quicksand -- well, have at it but don't complain when you have to enjoy that sucking feeling all by yourself.
And moving on to a third topic, related to the first two -- Unrealistic Expectations. Consider this story:
"I will get a dog and she will be perfect. She will never chew, never bark, never do anything bad. We will walk together in perfect harmony. She will be loyal, grateful, smart, kind, friendly to all, and in all ways -- perfect, just like me!"
Dear Mr./Ms Perfect:
This makes me NUTS. Unrealistic expectations create big disappointment and negativity, and they are totally avoidable. Each of us gets to set our expectations, and we can be realistic -- or not. And more importantly -- we can learn to embrace/accept what is, or sob for what isn't.
Yesterday I was walking two of my perfect dogs. Can you even believe it -- they did not walk perfectly all the time?! I had to drag one away from horse poop, one jumped up on a lady who stopped to admire them (and left muddy pawprints on her), and one even barked and pulled on her leash when two dogs came racing towards her!!!! Oh woe is me!
Whatever. If you want a perfect dog, they sell those big stuffed ones at Costco.
I am a big fan of goals and expectations -- but they have to be realistic. And perhaps the most important thing -- we have to learn not to freak out when the happy little story that exists only in our head does not play out in real life. When we are so busy crying and wallowing and wringing our hands about what is not going according to plan, we miss the chance to have a new plan that could be even better.
So at the risk of being insensitive -- get over it and move on -- that is the take home message about that! And don't expect perfection until that is something you have achieved yourself...
Life has some real bad problems -- REALLY bad -- and those are worth crying about, but even those require that we move on at some point. The past is not a place to live -- only to briefly visit to relearn whatever lesson it had to teach us. And problems are opportunities to learn, to challenge ourselves, and to experience life; living in that perfect world in your head -- well, that is not real, my friend...
So rewrite that life story if needed, notice your blessings, and have expectations that are realistic -- and we will all be happier as a result. Oh -- and stay away from Rattlesnakes and Quicksand!!!
What the heck?! Why did you send Halo deVil to me? She barks like a fool when I leave her in the car -- I said I wanted a perfect dog!
Thank you for sending Halo to me -- she has taught me things I need to learn and I LOVE her. Please let her stay a long time because she is perfect -- for me...
REALLY?!!!!! I wanted a dog that was bigger and you sent Sydney?! Woe is me -- I never get what I want...
Good things do come in small packages -- thank you sending Sydney to make us all smile :)
SERIOUSLY -- ZOEY?!! Is this a joke? I wanted another Asia -- with clear orthopedics -- and you send me the dog version of Michael Jordan??? How is she going to pass a draft test when she cannot keep her feet on the ground????
What fun it is to have such a high energy, active, playful dog -- she rocks in agility!!!!!!! THANK YOU -- she is perfect :)
This is Karma speaking -- are you crazy??? I was enjoying my life as a vagabond at that gas station in Barstow and you sent that crazy dog lady to kidnap me...
Notice the roses or the thorns -- you decide...
Here is Part One of the new Soap Opera titled "Montana Mac" -- Back east, Montana Mac is busily preparing for his Big Adventure to Montana, where he will live with a harem of beautiful girls and get to show the world how smart he is...only five more weeks and life as he knows it will be very different for that studly young man/berner...