Suspended in Time
These are trying times to say the least, political differences divide us, we are under assault from a silent, invisible, take no prisoners enemy, and people are at their wit’s end on so many fronts. Lashing out, blaming others, judging anyone who doesn’t do what we think they should do, and all the while each of us is only trying to do the best we can. Winnie and I have continued to do our NoseWork from the confines of home and yard, doing group events online where we have shared our searches and gotten to see searches shared by many other enthusiasts like us, even from around the world. NoseWork has been our savior, our escape, has given us a grip, precarious as it may be, on sanity. But as is the nature of the beast, NoseWork can also be a trying ordeal no matter our intentions to keep things light and fun.
Working with a trainer privately online has given Winnie and I some great challenges, this suspended hide assignment did much to challenge us and by us, I mean me. Winnie did a very nice job deciding the odor was coming from the deck then moved around the yard to rule out other possibilities. When Winnie again showed interest in the deck, I moved my focus to the underneath and Winnie responded to the support. I wish I could say it ended there with her beautiful drive to source and an awesome sit and undeniable look at source then me. I wish I had then marked it with a "yes" and rewarded her with handfuls of treats and praise. For some reason, I was brain dead and did not. This video shows the best part, the first minute and a half and should have been the end of a super successful suspended search. I was mistaken on which beam I had placed odor by two beams and was waiting for her to get closer but even that is no excuse. I should have recognized her distinctly telling me the odor was above her and responded appropriately. She worked another two minutes sourcing and coming right back to where odor was, two beams away from where I thought it was. I finally woke up, gave her credit for her hard work and tenacity and marked her sourcing and rewarded her like crazy. Then when I realized my mistake, I rewarded her and praised her for the next half hour. After watching back the video, I cried, not the first time I've cried at my foolishness and Winnie's unending forgiveness. Luckily, I did not ruin my dog's nose, nor her drive and God Bless her insatiable spirit, it is still intact. This search was my lesson in humility, also not the first time I've experienced that phenomenon. Winnie once again demonstrated to be the super-duper sniffer she is, the strong member of our team, and me the weak link she continues to bring along for the ride.
I have been processing this experience for a few days now and have whittled it down to the lessons learned. One of the greatest acts of kindness is forgiveness, I forgave myself for making this blunder during this search. In Winnie’s eyes I did nothing wrong so to continue to beat myself up would confuse Winnie (believe me, they feel our angst). There is however something even greater to take away from this experience and that is how to apply this forgiveness thing to all, even those we don't love as much as we love our dogs.
So with these words, I hope to relay how important it is to be kind to each other during these trying times. Understand that though we all have different thoughts, different ideas, and different views of the world giving each of us different perspectives about what we know, we should, rather than fight or ignore each other, forgive each other, even if you don’t feel you need to be forgiven. Forgiveness is not what you do for others, It’s what you do for yourself.