There is a moment of beauty that we as humans, busy humans, tend to overlook. Once we become consciously aware of these moments, we’re always looking for them. Constant searches yield zero results.
Stop looking for an epiphany and start looking for weak points. Rather than looking for angels, start looking for angles. The moment is there, or rather I should say; the moment was there. Don’t be disheartened, it will come again. As dog trainers, we’re always training for THAT moment.
Be it competition or be it pleasure, we’re always training for that perfect repitition. The successful completion of a task on verbal cue. The most beautiful moment within the training is there, but please, stop actively hunting it, you’ve already missed it.
Stop your training session right now. Sit on the ground. Let your dog crawl into your lap. Touch your dog. THERE! There it is. Miss it?
Try this: Find your lover, hold their face in your hand and kiss them; look at their face. That smirk, the rosy cheeks, the little look away…that is the most beautiful thing about that moment.
When your hands are cupping your dogs face and their eyes close, ears go back, that is the moment. You may say “No, that’s just my dogs reaction to the physical sensation of touch.” Technically speaking, you may be right, if you’re looking for that desired behavior; but what you just received from your dog was a culmination of love.
The most romantic thing I have ever witnessed was watching a trainer, view his dog being worked by another trainer through some simple position changes and then being sent out for a bit. There was some “sit,” “down,” “heel,” and “place.” Then. “attack.” The sheer elegance of this eighty pound canine bearing down on the decoy was insignificant – don’t get me wrong, it was a physical manifestation of beauty; the bite was strong and deep, the drive was intense, but the alluring moment was when I looked at the face of the dogs owner.
Unadulterated love. That is what filled his eyes. There was a sense of wonderment within the look…as if he was unsure how the dog knew to do all of these actions with such perfect precision. To me it was clear…he taught the dog. But the dog was in love with the work; he knew what to do because any commands were given. Very rarely does one get to see love seeping from another’s pores.
The culmination of the flashy obedience, precision striking, and intense bite resulted in an outpouring of love, the entire bring of this man was on display for all to see. To see someone so vulnerable, but being unaware of what was being displayed was such a conundrum for my brain to comprehend, like trying to track a metaphor that just exceeds your mental capacity for the time being.
Our dogs are always wearing our emotions. one thing I’ve given much thought to lately has been the shoving of our inadequacies upon our companions. My dog is always showing me exactly what I’m lacking, and what that is I’m still searching for. I’m sure he’s really sick of showing me, but somehow there’s still a love between us, that I share with no one and nothing else. I’m usually focused far too much on what he is doing wrong, rather than what I’m doing wrong and he is doing right. You’ve got to move forward to find the proper way back…or something along those lines. So, what now?
“Au Pied.” He swings into a heel with such fervor that is only reserved for me. “Beautiful boy!” I exclaim as I stride forward on our path full of prancing and spinning, reaching our final destination with “YES!” He leaps behind me towards the hand full of food, teeth clacking as he furiously mashes his muzzle into the pieces. “Au Pied,” swinging his body into position; he’s crooked. Well, that’s not right. I turn my head to view the position. His back end is slightly wrapped around my leg. Alright, let’s try that again. “Au Pied.” He barks, jumping and spinning into his favorite position: my left side, head up, eyes locking onto mine. We stride forward, and he barks. I stop. he stops. I reward him for a job well done.
Pausing for a moment, because I’m pretty sure my dog just said “HELL YEAH!” Why would he say that? How could he say that? He can’t possibly be speaking English. This is becoming far too Kafkaesque for my tastes. Why am I uncomfortable here? I most certainly should not be afraid, as the only thing present here is love. His understanding of the command, of the position is so deep, that’s he’s fallen in love with it.
We’ve all head the clichés about being afraid of love, but there is a reason it’s becoming a cliché; it’s true. I’m terrified of love. I’m scared because I love working with this dog, teaching this dog, being with this dog, I love this dog, so much; and I know our time is limited. IT’s something I struggle with every day. If I lose this dog, I’m alone. Alone, that’s the key word here. The most awful word in our language. “Murder” doesn’t hold a candle to it, and “hell” is only a poor synonym. Are we afraid of love? Or are we afraid to love? Samuel Beckett wrote “Time passes. That is all.” These words always ring true, be it life or death, time passes. Now what? Back to that mistake.
He was crooked in that entry. We cleaned up the mess. We’re born again to continue this lovely waltz; one, two, three, and four. I’m out of food. my dog is out of brain power, he’s panting, sluggish, and sloppy. We’re done for now. I sit down. No need to call him over, he’s trotting over to smash his head into my chest. I touch him.
Ah, there is is. Finally, I wish I would have found it five paragraphs ago, could have enjoyed it longer.