We all have “those days.” We come away sad, selfish, wistful, angry, maybe left with a sense of fairness vs. unfairness or plain old disappointment.
When I come off one of these days, the deep-rooted cause is usually expectation – or better yet, the lack of fulfilling an expectation.
Expectation is my nemesis.
Through the experience of Raising Boo, I have observed that very often when expectations are not met in a dog-human relationship, the human holds the dog wholly responsible.
How often have you heard someone say, “She just won’t listen to me,” and not, “I just don’t know how to reach her” regarding their dog?
Expectations can cloud our ability to communicate efficiently with our dogs. I feel the number one expectation is we assume by talking at our dogs and going through a specific training process, they should understand what we want from them. I think that may work with a lot of dogs, but not all dogs. For those dogs and humans it does not work for, I believe that this expectation can diminish the small battles that are won each time you work with your dog. Most especially if you own a dog that is “different.”
I believe the initial disconnect that can create a negative communication energy flow between an owner and a dog is that people often fail to realize dogs have personalities, natural skills, thought processes, abilities and limits, just as humans do. Instead of really understanding their dog’s personality, they develop one and assign it to the dog.
Being honest of yourself and of your dog will give you the starting point to begin to find your balance together.
Boo and me refer to it as our “teeter-totter.”
Of course we have to have some type of expectation. Nothing is achieved without that. I think it’s important as we grow with our dogs, we remember it isn’t always the end result as much as it is the path we took to achieve the goal. Boo and me now take unmet expectations and treat them as new challenges as opposed to disappointments. The unmet expectations lead to new ways to think, train and grow together.
I had no expectations at all of Boo.
Who Boo is set all the expectation stuff in motion.
Boo is not like other dogs. She is incredibly intelligent, sweet, observant, high functioning – and – a very powerful empath. You may doubt me on applying that noun to a dog. I understand that. I also understand the stigma that comes with this type of gift-burden. In the way that I know some things, I know this truth about Boo.
Boo has a strong presence – it can often be fragmented. As a result, much of her behavior can be misinterpreted. This is not an excuse for bad behavior – it’s a root cause identification of the behavior. Boo’s gift presents as reactivity – and yeah – sometimes – she really is being a reactive knucklehead. I once heard a woman who went on a vision quest say, regarding signs and energy, “sometimes it’s magic, and sometimes, it’s just three sparrows on a branch.” The important lesson is learning to clear your thought process to discern one from the other. It is highly subjective, and to unravel Boo, I have had to take a realistic approach in a mystical world.
I feel it’s possible that many dogs deemed “reactive” are empaths of one level or another. I am pretty sure it’s not a widely accepted train of thought, but I know it’s true about my dog. The solutions we devise to work past various issues through trial and error would work for any dog presenting reactive issues. Depending on whom I am talking to, I refer to Boo as “reactive” – many people have a tendency to pre-conceive when they hear a metaphysical explanation, and that’s okay. If I feel that someone would “get it” – especially if they are working with their dog on similar issues – I’ll venture down my alternative avenues with them.
As Boo’s behavior began to take on patterns that became unnerving and difficult, I had no idea where to start. In addition to this, we had a barrage of outside variables beyond our control working against us.
The turnabout – which is still a work in progress – to Boo’s better behavior didn’t come without a lot of constant and consistent work. Our expectations are grounded in reality. We deal with our issues piece by piece, staying balanced on the teeter-totter and discovering new ways to communicate with one another.
Boo is a happy, loving, gentle soul. Watching her blossom has been worth every second of all our work. It provides the sustenance we need to continue to grow and move beyond issues to greater and greater things.
What got us here was endless hours of work, trial and error, but more importantly, developing an understanding of who my dog is and what makes her tick and respond has led us to successes. This applies to all dogs and all owners – some people that I know are naturals – others, like me, have more work to do. Perhaps the more difficult part for me was that I needed to take a hard look at myself to begin understanding who I am and to develop the confidence in what I knew was truth. Sometimes that is tough to do. Letting go of pre-conceptions and traditional thought and instead thinking out-of-the-(Boo)-box – and – just shutting up and listening – and observing – is a great place to begin.
Boo has taught me some of the greatest lessons of my life. Boo holds a mirror up to me – through her eyes, her reactions and energy – she shows me.
If you are a novice like myself and learning as you train your dog to do a job or overcome a behavior, or you have a “different” dog, keep your work balanced. I often imagine Boo and I on our teeter-totter. We weigh our work and balance out the issues and the resolutions. There is no perfect answer. We work until the bubble stays in the middle and we are eye-to-eye across the beam.
Your greatest expectations should deal with that day – each session, each moment, each attempt – to come away with any scrap of progress you can lay claim to. When the whole of the pieces come together, I guarantee you – it’s a beautiful thing.
The will to win the small battles provides the fuel to power the conquest of the war as you work toward your fulfilled expectations.
Keep it simple, your expectations real and your heart and mind open to your dog.
Let them be your mirror.
Dreams really Boo come true.