By Two Silly Hounds

Driving slowly along the gravel road looking in awe at the beauty of the foothills of the Continental Divide, I’m reminded of how fortunate a life I live.  My dogs and I are heading up to visit with trainers and attend a Rocky Mountain Pointing Lab Club (RMPLC) event to work on fundamentals in bird dog handling.  As I drive down the private road into the unknown with signs along the way warning “Private Road” and “No Trespassing,” I’m feeling privileged to get some time with my generous hosts.

On the trainer’s property I look around to see wooded foothills in the distance, fields covered in light grass, and large ponds of water all perfect for upland and waterfowl training.  Instead of enjoying the company of my dogs, and this perfect setting, I find myself focusing on a list of problems outside of what is at hand today.  I’m also a bit worried that my dogs won’t allow me to demonstrate some level of control in front of the others that came to attend the event.

It is strange, when you are so focused at accomplishing problem resolution with your dog, you lose sight of the big picture.

With all the experiences I’ve gained in life, especially when it comes to problem resolution, why – at this very moment – can’t I detach from my troubles when working with my dogs?

In my own work, it is expected that I produce and identify problems without criticism.  Problems are to be gathered, ranked by priority, and fixed one by one, when time allows, without any emotional state or identifying with fault or blame; that is, what is most important is that my daily efforts should be towards achieving success and forgetting about negativity.  Great concept to consider, especially when dog training.

In my first spring with hunting dog trainers and the folks in the RMPLC, I’ve learned that these dog lovers are genuinely positive and excited to help me improve my approach to dog handling, and it was this that made me reconsider my focus when approaching dog handling. I have to identify my own problems first, let them go, and then move forward with training.  Bringing those negative feelings to the field only hinders my dogs’ ability to understand what I’m trying to do.  Ultimately, I’ve learned that my dogs are pretty much ready and eager to learn, it is me that needs improvement with my handling techniques and attitude, but I’m just as willing to learn as my dogs are.

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