I love moving with dogs.
Just as in learning how to walk, one foot in front of the other, and realizing how this opens up the entire world for exploration, learning how to move with a dog opens up a whole new category of relationship.
There is this thing I call the ‘sweet spot’ when I move with dogs. I can feel it, the dog can feel it, and there is a visual, tangible, and seamless connection. Every cell in my body lights up, I can feel the dog ‘lift’, and there is very little that can break that connection.
I think it is actually a bit of a drug for me if I am being honest. It feeds me, nourishes me emotionally, the physical movement feels good, but it is the connecting to another species where you no longer recognize each other as another species, but rather as two beings in space and time that has me addicted.
When I move with my dogs in my yard or while out hiking I can get so lost in time, lost in the moment, and the rest of the world goes away, it is just us. My kids learned to cook early in their life. They knew from way back when if they saw me working my dogs, I had forgotten about dinner and it was up to them to get it started. Even without them really understanding what was happening, or having words or context for what I was doing, or why, they could sense it on some level. It is that real.
When I work with my clients dogs in class I often hear “WHY does my dog do that with you and not me, HOW are you doing that”. This always knocks me off my center, even if I know the words are coming, and this is why.
It is not a question I can answer in fifteen seconds that will satisfy a person, or maybe I can? Usually someone wants a quick tip that will make them super successful, right away, because they are at the level of not really knowing what they don’t even know yet. The start. And I get that, I probably do that to every car mechanic I talk too. While it would be simple and honest to say, stand, walk, and move this way exactly, it is actually a layered complexity to get to that level of handling. And a life time, so far, and up to this point.
It is an accumulation of fifty plus years of living with animals, thirty plus years of working with dogs, and fourteen years of professional and competition handling that has shaped who I am, what I do, how I move, the gestures I make, the sounds I use, my use of space, meticulous timing (or kick ass timing according to friends), moving with an open heart, intention, working with no judgement, allowing each dog to teach me something, building a desire to always learn more.
And every dog I step out with has me, completely.
There is no way for a new or novice Handler to achieve this in a one hour a week class, but this is for sure the start. There must be a start, there must be that fumbling, a silly putty feeling, an uncertain place. We all have starts, and they shouldn’t be graceful, but it is the intention, the openness to learn, the desire to connect, and time, lots and lots of time, that counts a whole awful lot!
For those of you that know what I am talking about, that have this same addiction, a similar connection, well cheers, because you are on the cusp of something magical.