Tai is 19 months old now. Handsome, athletic, sweet, smart and still a little nutty. Watching him grow up and immersed in training this young dog, I’ve been thinking a lot about “balance” . It first occurred to me as I watched video of Tai jumping at a Susan Salo workshop last month. With his bigger size and smooth coat – compared to my hairy little shelties — it’s easier to see the power and control required to stay balanced throughout the jumping exercises.
But “balance” has many more meanings and here are some that resonate with me:
Balance: a means of judging or deciding what to work on today; this week; this month to build his skills in all aspects of life and sport. Or how about the balance of “perfection” vs “better than average” when judging what to reward in the thick of training. That instantaneous decision that says “acknowledge that” – stop and reward — when you see a brilliant turn, nose touch, start line, response to handling – balancing the urge to go on with the longer term goal of building a skilled and confident partner. Or… after a few days of training, deciding that today should NOT be a training day but the priority should be a long hike in the woods and fields.
Balance: a counterbalancing weight, force, or influence Balancing the pressure of training and travel vs the release of down time – long walks, hiking, swimming and hanging out. A few weeks ago, Tai spent 3 days at the Susan Salo seminar. Beyond the restrictions of life on the road and the physical and mental demands of the jumping, the mental work to hold it together around the stimulation of other dogs was a challenge for him. We ended the week at our camp – hiking, swimming and hanging out. A good balance.
Balance: physical equilibrium; the ability to retain one’s balance – I watch in awe the athleticism of this dog as he negotiates his way through more and more complicated sequences. This physical ability didn’t come all at once to this leggy lad. I’m glad that I was in no hurry with his early training; that I matched his physical (and mental) maturity with appropriate challenges – I’m liking the results.