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What if I Break Her?

Julie Bacon Goals Puppies Training

Many of you know I got a young dog about six months ago, who became known as Moxie. She spent the first several months as a kennel-ish dog so the first order of business was teaching house manners - well, MY house rules, I guess. Just recently I sent in the paperwork to the AKC to add my name to the front of her list of owners along with a name change, and when this is done I will feel like she is really mine.

I like her because she is smart and drivey and has an attitude. I can teach her just about anything in five minutes. She’s small but is wicked-athletic. She’s a bunch of fun and has real promise. As a result of all this, I admit I am scared to death.

OK, maybe “scared to death” is an overstatement. To be clear, my fear is not of her - she’s a love. Rather, I’m afraid I’m going to screw her up. I find I am second guessing every move. Do I even know how to teach a heel position? How did I ever teach Indie how to jump? Why does she squeeze between me and the A-frame instead of taking it?

Mind you, she turns a year old November 26th. She’s a freakin’ baby!

One part of me can hear the craziness for what it is: fear and comparison. After all, by this age, Indie had titles in Rally and Herding and legs in obedience. What am I doing wrong? Oh, I hear it, but it still has me asking five different people how I should be teaching my dog to heel. Who is this crazy chick in my head?!

 

Perfectionist much?


Clearly, this frenzy is stupid and self-induced. I have this little, fierce gem and I want her to be perfect, and if she’s not, then it’s obviously my fault. And I’m actually not in a hurry - really! The ownership and name change paperwork has appropriately slowed my roll and I know I have time. So for once, that’s not it. No, I’m literally afraid I’m going to ruin her.

If I were being a friend to myself, I would say, “Self, you’re being insane. She’s a talented little thing who is learning how to learn. She’s sweet and wants to be right and she loves to work. Ease up!”

Sure, easy for me to say! {eyeroll} So I go through phases where I seek out the advice of friends and Internet gurus while trying to keep my anxieties away from Moxie. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s probably not working as well as I think it is.

It’s just that I know she’s special and talented and can do great things and I owe it to her to teach her in the best way. And what if I eff it up?

 

Oh, but what if you succeed?


I’m sharing the hot mess that is my thought pattern because I know you’ve been there. We all have big dreams for our dogs and big fears that exist in parallel. A “new” dog just means bigger goals conjured up when we see a glint of promise in those smart eyes. I’m guilty. I look at her and think, “Oh my! This is the dog who could ... “ Insert MY dream in the space.

To talk myself off of the ledge I go back to my WHY. My dogs are pets and companions first. They sleep in my bed and hog the sleeping bag when we camp. They travel well and put up with my vagabond life. What’s important - what grounds me - is the connection we share. THAT’s what’s most important; building the connection and relationship is everything.

Moxie and I didn’t get that crucial first month together when bonds are cemented and imprinting done. She came to me as a bratty “teen” who in just a few months, is learning it’s cool to work and she’s good at a bunch of stuff. She’s building confidence and her sense of self.

I’m still going to look up more foundation lessons, but I’m also going to give her a hug, take her for a walk and feed her dinner. Because life is made in all the little moments.


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