Another world

I’ve been in “another world” for the last 10 days here in northeast Florida.   No snow; no bundling up to go outside; plenty of sunshine and instead of cleaning up muddy paws, I’ve been sweeping sandy floors.    It’s been a heavenly change.

Tai has enjoyed his beach running but honestly, he seemed just as happy running in the snow.   Dogs are so adaptable and really very easy to please with some exercise of the body and mind.  A simple walk/run engages the dog’s “seeking” mechanism.  And in a new place, that is magnified…as they check out all the different smells of beach sand, seashells, jelly fish, starfish, seaweed and on and on.  And sometimes making new friends adds even more joy.

Exploring a marine and sub-tropical environment feeds my seeking need too.  With a training in biology and ecology, I love learning about and seeing first hand different ecosystems.  Water, water everywhere here in Florida…the salty ocean, the estuaries, the freshwater rivers fed by aquifers.    To native Floridians, seeing dolphins, manatees and alligators is everyday fare but for a traveler like me…it makes me smile and lifts my spirits.  And I swear the alert “look” in the eyes of the Sandhill Crane I had close-up in my binoculars yesterday reminded me of Tai!

If you are reading this blog, you are probably a dog lover and likely share my fascination with observing and interacting with the “other species” we live with.  That’s one reason why teaching young dogs (and old dogs too) is so much fun.  I had a chance to observe dolphin trainers last week…lots of joy there too!

Teaching Tai his 2×2 weaves has been a blast on this trip. The method (thanks Susan Garrett) makes so much sense and is so flexible…I just love it.  When we arrived here in Florida, Tai had value for the poles, knew his entries on 2 poles and was ready to go to 4 poles.  With a bunch of short little sessions sprinkled in between our sightseeing and hiking, Tai was shortly weaving 4 straight poles and nailing amazing entries.  Today we went to 6 poles.  He’s a weavin’ border collie!

Of course, he’s made some mistakes along the way but when that happens the “how to learn” process that started at 7 weeks kicks in…. he keeps trying and figures it out.   For me, that is the fun of dog training.  I present a challenge, he tries it, gets rewarded or doesn’t and tries again.  I observe his behavior…and react (hopefully) appropriately with a new challenge.  A little frustration is ok…hey, I didn’t learn ride a bike without some frustration along the way.  Or if we’ve gone too far too fast…make it a little easier. It’s an art that is based in science.  I’m grateful my dogs let me explore that world with them.

We’ll be heading back up north in a couple of days but with spring right around the corner, all is good and who knows,  maybe someday very soon Tai can try out his new weaving skills on the grass in my backyard!

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