Saturday, July 23, 2016

A peril of social media ....

No not the bullying, or cyberstalking, nor even the never ending parade of food making me hungry ALL. THE. TIME.

It's the grief

the people murdered, robbed, with lives destroyed  in myriad ways

a friend of a friends little cousin is facing some terrible cancer

a horse I was watching hoping she'd be pulled from a kill buyer ended up shipped for meat ... sigh

it's relentless, it's timeless

and then there are the ones who rip a little piece of my heart out

The beautiful Penny, no longer with us. taken by her human Tanya   

My heart was so full of grief on hearing the news about Penny my eyes leaked (the loss was sudden and unexpected and lovely Tanya did everything possible and then a little more). Too recently Holly lost Parker - a duo who inspired me to keep working with Sally  as much as Susan Garrett and Buzz did. Lisa lost Walter a dog dear to my heart. Joanne lost Georgie... the list could go on and on and does.  Social media reminds us of our connections to each other. There is perhaps nothing to both dread, and value, more about it.

Tanya, Holly, Lisa, Andrea, Joanne, Kathryn, Devon, Sheila ... the list is long, and incomplete but  my heart aches every time I type, and say,  the words "so sorry for your loss, you were so very lucky to have loved each other". But repetition makes them true not trite. My eyes have leaked for each loss and I know they will leak more. (rotten allergies!!)  I will not get tired of reminding myself  that the hardest part of love is the inevitable loss that comes with it. The opportunity to connect to people in such trying, impossible times is a gift.  Such is the power of social media.

Penny always reminded me of Sally.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Doing. Is not teaching. It just isn't.


I have a new teaching gig.

Teaching teachers  in an online format. I've taught many teachers over the years but  face to face and either for a very short time (workshops) or over the course of  years (teachers in my schools). This is new. This has me thinking.

Because I can effectively teach, or do whatever,  does not mean I can teach you how to teach. Because I have a national title does not mean I should be teaching a dog sport. If my horse won some blingy fabulous class at some super duper show that does not mean I can teach you to do the same thing. Sigh.

So, without further ado ...

Good teachers are

10. Enthusiastic about the subject matter.  The topic might be teaching scent work, how to post on a horse or mathematical equations.The subject matters not one little tiny bit. The enthusiasm does. The passion does. Passion is infectious.

9. Able to step outside their traditional way of thinking to present an alternative way of accomplishing something. Not everyone learns the same way. The flexibility required to be an excellent teacher is staggering at times. When you are working with a person trying to teach an animal that ability to present an alternative to your normal way of doing things may become very very potent indeed.

8. Teaching all students no matter if they are the smartest. most talented, wealthiest,  or most wonderful person in the room. Appreciating that you can respect someone you may, or may not, like becomes critical to good, joyful teaching.Every student deserves to learn.

7.  Patient ...So so very patient. At least able to realize when they are getting frayed so they can step back and regroup. Yelling and teaching have gone together a very long time. They shouldn't.

6. Setting the bar high,  then a little higher.  I am not talking about unattainable goals. That is demotivating, depressing and even cruel.  Helping students achieve all that they can is a whole other matter and if your students can surpass your highest achievement what a wonderful compliment that is to you!

5.  Always learning. Always and forever. For your students, for yourself and for the love of learning. Michelangelo said it simply "I am still learning". Me  too, and this I hope for you too.

Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.
Read more at:
Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.
Read more at:

4. Allow errors and mistakes. Trite, but true - we learn from mistakes. Teachers and students both have to be allowed and able  to make, identify and work on gaps, holes and down right mistakes.

3.  Knowledgeable ... do I even have to say this? Stay a chapter or two ahead of students. Know where to find answers to questions that you aren't certain of.

2. Positive, and no I don't mean all Pollyanna and sunshine and fake rah rah sis boom bah. I mean helping people build from strengths not tearing them down. Scaffolding works. Identify how to best help students get where they want to go and teach one needed piece at a time. I, personally, love mastery learning - one brick at a time gets built. 

1. Advocates for  students. (Human and animal). : "take a break" "try again" "what can we learn from that".  are what you'll hear good teachers telling students ... or  "The ring needs better light" "Please wait your turn" "please keep your dogs under control when taking breaks".to others

and good teachers are professional ... they don't slag other instructors, whine about students endlessly, sit on their phones during lessons .... you get my drift ...

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

I never was promised a rose garden ...

But wow did we win the lotto with Thea ...

I've blogged about Thea here   and about agility with her in many spots  including here (the video is so Thea in many ways). Thea has taught me so much ...

She is brave, funny, opinionated, friendly, keen, athletic, affectionate, empathetic and smart. The list of adjectives for her could go on and on and all would be positive and loving. She has the most amazing capacity to charm the world.

She is also ill. Quite ill. Frighteningly, heartbreaking ill.

Her kidneys have decided not to function. Sadly she needs her kidneys to be functioning better than they are.  Our amazing canine nutritionist designed a home cooked diet for Thea a month ago when she was first diagnosed and she rallied incredibly for the month. Wooing and asking to go for walks. Loving life and being loved.  Then Monday night she was sick. Tuesday she didn't want to eat. Today she was at the vets on fluids. Tonight she had three long french fries (one of her favourite treats) when she got home. Back to the vet tomorrow for more fluids if I think they did anything to help and then we'll make a plan.

This little dog has done so much - Pet Project work, Saving Dinah work,  All  About Pets Shows for years, agility,  a little scenting but mostly sharing her huge heart with the world including many many fosters of all species. I hope the hard coming for us is easy and peaceful for her. I hope we have another miracle and she hasn't used up all her lives quite yet.

Her compatriot Walter is not well this week either. I know he and his human would appreciate good thoughts. They certainly have Thea's and mine.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Cred Factor

So... sigh

What is credibility?

Good old google tells me it is "the quality of being trusted and believed in". 

Where does it come from?

That can be a tougher nut to crack. In animal sports it can be earned by competition placement, titles and great big ribbons. Some people believe without titles one shouldn't teach. 

But if one teaches and one's students do well isn't that also worth trust and belief? I'd posit yes. Actually if one's students learn I'd theorize that credibility is achieved. 

Sometimes I wonder about people. 

Often I wonder about people.  When you think about it I get paid to wonder about people so that's probably a good thing. There was a trainer, judge, competitor in a non agility dog sport awhile back claiming that unless one had a multiplicity of titles and was a pro one shouldn't be teaching.

As a teacher of a whole lot of things I know this isn't quite right. I have taught many a person to breath through, and out of, panic attacks. I have never personally experienced a full blown panic attack.  I have spent a great deal of time being truly present with people in the midst of them. I have observed and studied and spoken to many people about them. I have had many people going into crisis ask for me to be with them over people with much more experience.

 National titles are lovely, big ribbon walls are impressive,  but the best teacher for you may or may not have either of those things. They should have dedication - both to learning to be better teachers and to helping you be the best you can, or want, to be. 

Finding the right instructor is HARD. Cred for you may not be the same as what earns cred in my book. Like so much else I blog about it really does depend. For me, I want instructors willing to listen to me, respect my animal partner but who can push me to excel. as well. Thanks to my horse sport life I never think I have outgrown the benefit of a second set of eyes and ideas but I have determined some criteria for what earns cred to me. 

  • Good eyes - that are on the student not their  phone. 
  • A kind and generous personality - one that wants excellence 
  • Honest - there is no use in telling me "good good good" when there are errors being made 
  • Experience playing the game I'm playing - I don't care if you aren't at my level but you'd better have tried what you teach at some level
  • A willingness to say "I don't know - let's find out"  my personality asks questions - and once I trust my second eyes I ask them lots of questions - I don't expect absolute knowledge but i do expect respect for my curiosity
  • An ability to express things in other ways if i just don't get it

Give me this and I will be excited about working together!!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

I'm back!!

Oh the stress of being locked out of blogger.
I was sad.
I was shocked.

I was mad.

But all is forgiven.

I'm BACK!!

Had about 4 blogs I wanted to write - hopefully they'll all come back to me.

gratotous house shot as blogger has updated and lets me use phone photos now - who knew?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Be Fair.

When you get involved in a sport with a partner you add a great deal to the natural challenges of tackling an athletic endeavor. When you get involved in a sport that involves you being the direct teacher of your partner you add another layer of trials. When that partner speaks a different language and is in fact a different species altogether your task  is nearly off the chart of possible.  Or at least it feels that way at times.

I'm sorry the judge didn't see the person who beat you miss an entire loop of the spiral. But weren't you lucky the judge didn't call that pretty iffy contact? Maybe that judge just really doesn't like grey horses. Another judge will love them. It's called Life.

But you picked the sport. And, like it, or not, you picked your partner. And, accept it, or not, life happens. 

So. How are you fair to yourself and your partner?

1. Be realistic. If you've never trained a dog before you aren't likely to be the top of your chosen sport two months after you discover said game. 

2. Train for success. Miracle methods don't work. Simply wanting to be good at something simply isn't good enough to have perfect runs. 

3. Build a toolbox custom designed for you. I mean that figuratively. Know what you will do to keep yourself and your partner in the best state on show day. Have strategies that will work for you to be calm, emotionally together,,  focused, or whatever you need. Have warm up routines that are built to aid your success (Engagement is an issue? Know that? Do something about it.) 

4. Find your self discipline. Then use it. Luck is hard work. Success is harder work. Self discipline includes things like practicing good self care. And, sadly, all the work in the world won't always result in success or good luck. (See ^^^ "Life isn't fair" ) 

5. Use good judgement. Know what a reasonable plan for progression might look like and be honest at least with yourself. If you arrive and a situation isn't going to work for you in the now don't say "let's just try it" and then be upset if your dog or horse reacts exactly as you thought they would. 

6. Avoid excuses. Something didn't go as expected? By all means figure out why and what to do about it but it's happened. Move on. No matter if your dog has never smelled horse poop or a carnival ride was beside the show ring. You had a cold and felt crappy? So sad too bad - not an excuse. 

7. Accept that there are bad days. The flip side of that is, if you do your work, there are also good days. Shake them off and carry on. 

8. Absorb the great around you. Take classes. Participate fully. Watch video.  Ask questions. I live in the middle of a lake. There is no one around me to train with. I have online friends who I ask questions of, and discuss video with. We share training ideas and plans. 

9. Learn from the days it doesn't work. There are take aways from every situation and a likely big one will be "I didn't think of training with that happening". So make that happen. Get your partnership used to as many variations as you can while working happily. The time invested truly does pay off. 

10. Celebrate the days it all comes together and life is fair and wonderful and success is YOURS baby yours!!

Friday, September 18, 2015

And the beat goes on ...

Fall is always beautiful at the farm 

Everybody is relaxed and content

lots of running 

the old guys enjoy the sun and come for short walks very happily 

lots of shaking 

lots of swimming 

lots of just enjoying being together outside and life 

(lots of chores too - but hard to take pictures while doing chores)