Friday, October 16, 2009

Moments With Duffy

A wonderful horse trainer once told me that when one is first starting to train an animal, the goal is to strive for moments of greatness. Initially, those moments may be few and far between, but over time, by making the work enjoyable and the expectations clear and consistent, those moments begin to string together to create a great animal and a great partnership. The benefit of working on such a timescale is that, if one moment is bad, MOVE ON, leave the frustration behind, because the next one could be great!

This advice has proven so useful for me when I'm handling the shelter dogs, especially smart, active dogs like Duffy, who I've been fostering for the last few months. Working with Duffy has been an amazing experience and he has really reminded me how important it is to live by the moment! Every moment has been a potential learning opportunity for Duffy as he acclimates to the big world outside of the shelter. Usually, a moment goes bad when I haven't recognized fast enough what he's learning from that moment, or my timing is off (yep, I'll admit it, it's usually my fault). Here's the kicker, Duffy easily recognizes frustration, which makes him nervous, and as you can imagine, that can spiral downward pretty quickly. So when a moment is bad, I've had to consciously put the brakes on that moment, and redirect it into a more successful moment. The joy of this is that I've also had to let go of life's frustrations when I'm with Duffy, what a healthier perspective!

Over the last few weeks, I've been noticing how our great moments are beginning to come with much greater frequency (thanks, in no small part, to our agility class, stay tuned for a future blog on that). Just last night, he had a fabulously great moment - he calmly and willingly approached something that scared him, but the best part is that he did it completely by himself, without any initiation from me to 'touch' it. Silly, right?, but this great moment is the culmination of several other smaller moments, no less great, that have been serving to build his confidence, and will no doubt be another building block for future moments. Duffy's growing up and becoming comfortable in his own skin, I can't tell you how proud I am to watch his transformation!

Sadly, what's not comfortable for Duffy at the moment are his eyes. I met recently with a group of Duffy fans to contemplate why he hasn't been adopted yet. It came up that his need for eye surgery is likely a big stumbling block so we decided to try and raise the funds for his surgery, which will make him a lot more comfortable as well. So, if any of you are interested in helping Duffy out, you can go to the site below for more information on Duffy's eye condition...

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