There was a woman with a young, smart-as-a-whip border collie … as energetic as she was clever.
This pup easily learned all the usual stuff like sit/down/stay/shake … she knew at least a couple dozen cued tricks … and she could open doors and gate latches and she was so athletic she could leap 5 feet up from a stand still.
This youngster was well trained, yet she had so little impulse control that walking her caused the woman’s friends to exclaim: “it looks like you’re walking a helicopter on a string!!” She was happy and eager to meet and greet, so she basically leapt in the air the entire time. There was no holding her down.
When it came time for her herding training, a whole new level of frustration developed for this woman and her pup.
This experienced herding trainer could not get this talented and smart pup to stop at balance...the most basic and natural of skills.
The youngster clearly felt where balance was and would look in ... but wouldn't even offer a pause, much less a stop.
The woman tried harder, firmer, louder to get the stop, thinking this pup needed some help with her lack of self control.
The dog tried harder, firmer, louder to get what she wanted.
Expert advice offered little help. “Your pup is not listening, out of control, impossible to train”.
Punish her, correct her, hit her ... give up on her ... was the advice.
The woman refused, determined to find a way to help her dog.
They were both desperate to communicate. Neither was understood.
You may not know that I’m a trained healer, intuitive and animal communicator, able to tap into the most discreet, subtle expressions and unspoken communication.
Ultimately, I was able to use my intuitive skills and discover exactly what this pup was trying to communicate… and why she just refused to do such a simple thing.
In a weird twist of reality … it turns out the dog wanted the exact same thing as the woman, unbeknownst to either of them.
This clever and highly sensitive border collie had so precise a sense of balance, that she could not tolerate one sheep’s nose being off of dead center balance by one fraction of an inch.
She would just explode in frustrated frenzy, racing around instead of stopping when asked...so desperately reacting to not being understood.
Phoenix, the dog in this story, reminds me of Helen Keller in that old movie I saw as a kid ...racing around the dinner table, throwing plates, food and glasses to the floor...so frustrated were her attempts to be heard.
Yes, as you may have guessed, this is my Phoenix, and the story of our rough start to herding.
It’s a similar story to the one I see repeated over and over with my students and clients … and with those who I wish were my students and clients.
I hear their dogs. I see the frustration on both sides. I know how they feel, and I know how to help.
I learned the hard way, to be sure.
If I knew then what I know now...I would NOT have kept rehearsing unwanted behavior over and over until it became our way of working together.
No...I would have stepped into my role as Leading Partner in our D.A.N.C.E.