Really the Best?
I recently learned a very important lesson in my class.When we started the class, everyone laughed as they saw my large collie mix bouncing along beside me. He didn’t walk- he boinged like a ball! He was pretty obviously one of the worst dogs there. I knew he had it in him, though- he just needed to apply his home learning in a class setting. I wanted the class for socialization and heeling in an active setting more than anything.
By the third week, people were commenting on how much better my dog was! I felt great, because my dog had very rapidly become one of the better dogs in the class. He was okay with applying what he’d learned at home in an active setting for the most part!
But then, I let myself rest on my laurels, as it were. Quick didn’t get any better, though he remained calm and collected and a good boy in class. He wasn’t improving because I wasn’t working with him. I was looking at all the other dogs and saying ‘my dogs’ doing great! He’s one of the best here!’
He wasn’t his best, though, and I knew it on graduation night when he flat-out refused a heel position sit. He’d sit- in front of me. I hadn’t bothered to teach him placement, because no one else could do it, so why should we? It wasn’t that I chose not to heel position him, I just didnt’ bother!
It was a sobering lesson, that when you compare you either come out ahead or behind, and neither is good for you, or your dog. If I were comparing him to my older dog, I’d be depressed about him and tell him he’d never be as good. But comparing him to a rambunctious bunch of beginner dogs, he was an angel! I needed to take Quick as his own dog and teach him and myself to progress as far as he could.
Don’t hold yourself back, and don’t let anyone else hold you back, either! Just because your dog isn’t the ‘best’ doesn’t mean it isn’t YOUR best. And just because he IS the best doesn’t mean it’s YOUR best, either.