Being a New Year’s baby, Tai is nearly 1 year old. Hard to believe that fact and does that mean I can’t call him a puppy anymore? He’s growing up to be quite handsome, although “goofy” is a more frequent moniker. On a recent off leash walk and before I could react, he took off to chase a lone leaf blowing across the snow 50 or 75 yards away and found himself submerged in the Erie Canal. What he didn’t know was this lone leaf was blowing across a partially frozen, snow covered surface of water. Fortunately, he broke through the ice right at the edge. Let me also explain, that this also involved hurling himself down a 20 ft rocky bank. It was about 22 degrees and snowing. He was surprised when he hit the water, scrambled out, shook off and appeared completely unphased. Brrrrrrr. So, after my initial horror at what he had done, I laughed. Lesson learned there – at least for me – no off leash walking near partially frozen bodies of water with a border collie – even if he would have to perform feats of acrobatics to reach the water. This is a lesson I did not learn with my shelties.
His training is coming along nicely, although sometimes I admit it feels like he knows nothing. Of course, this isn’t true. His developing fluency in response to verbal cues is where I’m sometimes left scratching my head and laughing. It’s like there are lots of threads of partially learned behaviors in his head that he hasn’t completely sorted out and sometimes they get tangled up and his response ends up somewhere I never would have predicted. So, I laugh (and think about rule-outs to help him sort it out).
Or when his innate border collie-ness takes over and he becomes completely focused on a noise that I have to concentrate hard to hear. It’s like….Earth to Tai! I say to him…”you are such a border collie” and I have to laugh. Or when he’s been invited up to give me a big hug and it’s like he can’t get close enough, so he keeps pushing and pushing into me, until I lose my balance; or if in my office chair, I’m rolling across the room.
I recently videoed one of our training sessions. Admittedly, I was a bit challenged by the mechanics of this particular training…food, toy and clicker in hand….so I was getting unexpected responses. I laughed a lot on this video.
I’m pleased to know that I’m laughing a lot…it keeps our sessions light and it means I’m enjoying Tai and the training process without feeling rushed. I should also mention, by the way, that often, I’m not laughing, but simply smiling with pleasure at his brilliance. I’ve been successful in not putting myself on a timetable…maybe a bit too successful, actually :-). But now that we’ve been given the “gift” of an early winter – with lots of snow and bitter cold, I’m going to make sure that I keep laughing even when I’m rearranging my family room furniture to make more room to train, training in a cold barn or bundling up to do flatwork in the snow.
I hope all of you are both laughing and smiling in your training sessions too!