When it's done right, it's about the journey

I don’t know Shayne’s birthday… when I adopted her in the end of June, they said she was between 9 and 10 months old. So I’ve always estimated her birthday as around the middle of September (it works out since it seems many of my friends, family, and other pets seem to have birthdays around the middle/end of September). This year she is turning 7 and it has been quite the source of anxiety for me because I lost my heart dog Tazzie when she was just a little bit shy of turning 7. I often forget that Shayne has been with me for 6 years now… it seems like she’s been with me forever because our journey has been so long. She would probably be unrecognizable to the people who first knew her with all the changes she’s made over the years. I really feel so honored to have taken this journey with her.

There are some people whose main focus with their dog is the end point–be it ‘fixing’ behavior problems, earning a MACH (agility title), earning their ARCHMX (rally-o title), earning a FGDCh (flyball title), earning TDI, etc. Most of these people are about getting there the fastest, getting there with the highest scores, or getting there by any means possible. They may use forceful methods, they may ignore stress signals their dog is giving while performing the given job, they may push the dog physically well before the dog should be doing certain maneuvers–they generally have a “the ends justify the means” mentality when it comes to their dogs.

While they are welcome to their point of view (though I DO have concerns for some of their dogs), I cannot wrap my head around their perspective. For me, everything is about the journey… the flash points at the “end” are bonuses but are not the be all and end all. Even with Shayne, she has come such a long way in her life with all of her issues but the CGC, the canine friends she’s made, the recognition from demos, and the fact that she has been a decoy dog for other reactive dogs are only just bonuses. It’s the day-in and day-out work we put in, the communication we have created, the trust we have built, and the understanding we configured. It hasn’t always been an easy ride but I would never have had it any other way.

Here’s to my lovely girl turning 7 (at some point this month). It’s been one heck of a ride and I absolutely cannot wait to see what the future holds and to see where our journey takes us…

  1. This is a great post. My peoples tried to make me into a therapy dog – for years and years. While they tried to keep my best interest at heart when choosing training methods, they still weren’t seeing the big picture. It took my that same amount of time to teach them what you said so nicely in this one post.

  2. Happy Birthday Shayne! You are a most handsome and wonderful dog.

  3. What a great post! I too have had to learn that it’s the journey that’s important. My two current rescues both came with issues that really upended my belief that I was a pretty good trainer. Fortunately for me (and my dogs), with some professional help we have learned to modify what behavior we can and manage the rest. While I’m still a goal oriented pet owner, I have learned to savor the journey and not worry about when (or even if) our (really, my) goals are achieved.

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