Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday thoughts

Susan Garrett has had some really great stuff on her blog lately. It’s like she’s been in my mind, reflecting my own thoughts and expressing them much better than I could. So I’m cannibalizing two of my favorite posts.

First, she writes about not creating self-limiting beliefs for yourself and your dog. You know, stuff like saying, “He’ll pop out at the 10th pole, he always does” or “My dog can’t heel outdoors, he’ll be too distracted.” Another word for this is "self-fulfilling prophecies." Sometimes we make things happen simply by believing they will happen. Why do we always pick BAD things to believe!

Instead, Susan writes:

“ . . . when I look at my dogs I can only see greatness.

“I don’t focus on what isn’t there with my dogs, I focus on what is. I take up ownership of anything that can be made better and I spend that dog’s career trying to make it better . . . Why, because we want to do agility, must these dogs suffer us acting, talking or joking about them as if they have failed us some how?”

It’s okay to admit your dog isn’t working up to your criteria but put a positive spin on it, don’t focus on the negative. For example, “Phoenix and I are making great progress on his out-of-sight stays” instead of “He hates those out-of-sight stays and doesn’t want to do them.” (By the way, it’s true, we ARE making great progress!)

Then, Susan writes about believing that our dogs are with us for a reason, that some cosmic hand of fate placed them with US, not a different owner, because they have something special and specific to bring to us. So many of us say, “My dog would be great if only he had a better handler.” I admit to thinking that, too, sometimes. But no more!

Susan believes we have the dogs we have for a reason. In other words, regardless of “achievement” as measured by superficial stuff like titles, scores, ribbons, etc., they belong with us JUST BECAUSE! She writes:

“Regardless of how it may appear to any of us watching, every dog’s life is always one of great intention. The odyssey is unique to each dog and their person. Those of us on the outside looking in may never be privy to all that is being fulfilled during the time you have together but the impact is likely more than any world championship ever could provide.”

For the complete posts, visit

What beautiful thoughts. Go home from work today and hug your beautiful dogs.


  1. I read that one and almost cried. My attitude improves daily and those thoughts are what I need. I always think that because Jazz is my first dog, he is somehow being cheated. What a goof I am! He is getting all my love and we are learning a whole lot together. He will always get to be my first dog. I think he is really fine with that! I am.

  2. I chuckle because another friend and I were just discussing the great posts of late from Susan and applications. We both also were touched most by the one about dogs being in our lives for a reason - each one. A great reminder as I currently struggle with the decision to keep the foster boy that arrived here 3 months ago and is a great deal of "work in progress". I always have said, I do not question the universe (or doG as it may be) when a dog arrives in my life -they all have brought their own challenges and their own love and adoration.

  3. I've been loving her recent posts lately too. Especially the one about self-fulfilling prophecies. Maybe the handlers who do that (constantly, not just once or twice) think that if they joke about it, other people won't think, "Oh what a crappy handler, she doesn't even notice/care that her dog did ____."

    It especially means something for me, training a Malamute where it seems everybody is very quick to tell me that I won't get far with her because they're "impossible" to train to do anything, whether it's attention on an agility course, or retrieving, what have you. Since I choose NOT to believe them (or choose not to take the easy way out, try less hard and just say, "Well, she's a Malamute, so this is what they do."), I have an absolutely freakin' awesome dog who doesn't just retrieve toys, but books, pens, coats, purses, etc.

    The only part that I disagreed with was: "Lets face it, if these dogs were just family pets, with no responsibilities other than keeping us company when we go to the bathroom at night, there would be no disappointing, no negative nick names or phrases attached to them." Unfortunately for Casey (the black lab) that isn't true. Pat always has negative nicknames or phrases towards him. Pat's defense is, "That's just how guys talk to each other." True, but 1) Guys are stupid, and 2) He's not a man! He's a very sensitive dog.

    I'm not huge into positive thinking, but I wholeheartedly believe in self-fulfilling prophecies. If you do believe that your dog "will always be a bar-knocker" or "won't ever learn to retrieve" or whatever, WHY BOTHER?! If you don't believe on some level that you can fix the issue, just quit.

    Sorry, didn't expect this to be so long, but I really get offended when people say things like that about their dogs, particularly when it's almost always lack of training!

  4. I love hearing everyone's comments!

    Went to a (very expensive) obedience seminar a number of years ago when Jamie was very young and I really wanted help with a couple of exercises.

    When Jamie acted like a squirrely idiot, the seminar presenter said (this is an exact quote), "Oh, he's just being a Terv."

    Well thank you very freaking much for charging me an arm and a leg to tell me what breed of dog I have. She clearly didn't know how to help us and instead, flipped the problem back on the breed I'd chosen. I was so disappointed and since then, have never EVER allowed myself or my students to use that as an excuse.