|* an explanation offered in defense of some fault |
I don't find this definition from dictionary.com to be how I define "excuse". My personal list of excuses are those things that I am not willing to see as "changeable". I do have a small list of personal 'go to' excuses. When it comes to training and running dogs, I have been sorting out "excuse" versus "assessment" as I look at my progress and goals. When discussing 'evaluation' or "assessment" it is easy for some to think diagnosing is excuse making. However, right, wrong, or indifferent......I assess why things don't go as planned and use these assessments to train through to the other side. I like taking my assessments to lessons; getting feedback from trainers I respect to see if my skills of observation are getting better and if my plan of treatment needs tweaking.
For example, my Gyp is tight on the top end of her outrun. I've been pondering opening her up a bit. After a lesson with Gyp and watching a friend sort out another dog...I'm working on finding a balance of bringing Gyp into the sheep and helping her work through covering from inside the pressure point in addition to helping her sort top end distance. I'm seeing greater understanding in her and she is turning into a very nice and handy dog. Will it help at trials? Only trialing will tell....time and miles and miles and miles. I've been doing a few other things to encourage good approach and understanding. I've also been diligent to make sure the sheep don't come running when I send her while also making sure the sheep are not always up against a fence on bigger outruns.
With each of my dogs, I find myself thinking about the "why's" of what they are doing. From this I try to make a plan to help them gain understanding, confidence and trust in me. For me, if I only opened Gyp up without working her through covering and approach from inside the pressure point, I would leave her hanging without tools when situations came up that required that particular skill and experience. I think this might be synonymous with "ground work" with horses. A trainer friend of mine told me that he likes to put his dog in all sorts of situations so when they get to a trial, there is nothing the dog has not seen and worked through.
Sometimes when I trial, I see holes in my "groundwork" with my dogs...each different because of the different strengths and weaknesses the dogs bring, and I bring, to our relationship. When I see something, that I thought we had worked through, rear it's head at a trial.....I am thankful so I can go back and do more "groundwork". On my trip to Kentucky and back, each of my dogs had moments where they told me, "I trust you in some situations but not this one." and, with the help of mentors, I am going back and working on them trusting me and themselves more; further out, in situations that are new, on sheep that are different, no matter terrain, weather, or time of day. Where we have come from is important to me, but I don't expect it to be important to anyone else including my mentors. Much like, where I have come from is important to me. I don't make excuses or blame any more, but I am aware of muscle memory triggers and am working at weakening those while strengthening the functional muscles that need more memory in my life.
This journey really is about me...which makes me laugh. I love having friends that share their journey; love learning from them, seeing things different through their eyes. There are days when I blog that I feel very vulnerable.....the moment the letters are typed out, putting my thoughts into words which often are not put together to convey to each reader "exactly" what I mean for them to say.....knowing as well, as with all of life, there are those who will twist and tangle with glee; I come back to knowing....this is about me. I blog to remember where I have come from; assessing progress and making a plan to become more of me. One of my sincerest wishes is that those who read what I share are encouraged to keep to their journey of becoming them!
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