Sink or Swim: Life lessons from a Puppy

In life, we regularly discover ourselves powerless to keep away from disaster, disappointment, and disillusionment. Nonetheless, we DO have a alternative in how we react/reply to those hurtful interruptions that take up residence in our lives or flip it the wrong way up. We’re tempted to surrender, expertise despair, and even lash out on the very individuals we love most. That’s after we resolve if we’ll sink or swim. And its a lesson I’ve discovered very often from my canines. One such expertise occurred throughout a “first swimming lesson” in our pond on a scorching, sunny day in July with a pet named “Skye.”

(Above: approaching the “enjoyable!”)

I’ve discovered a lifetime of classes from observing and interacting with actually a whole lot of canines over the previous 30+ years. I’ve studied wolf packs, learn books on animal socialization, and noticed my very own canine pack–they fascinate me! I simply LOVE the perception that canine trainers have as nicely. I’ve at all times been intrigued by their huge data and intuitiveness as to what they’ve discovered from canines. A few of these life classes nonetheless linger at this time and keep to remind me of the attributes God put in his creation to remind us of His methods, His guarantees, and the decision to be extra like HIM and to be a greater human. (It’s possible you’ll, maybe, name it your Greater Energy–I simply occur to name him God)

(Above: That appears like an enthusiastic run to me!)

Canine are, in most conditions, adaptable. Though anthropomorphism continues to infiltrate our concepts of what canines suppose and really feel (and allow us to not get “too” carried away with that), what we do know is that they’ve a pure tendency to make the most effective of a state of affairs if given a protected alternative of alternative. Now, I’ve owned labs for over 30 years, so I can’t communicate to each kind of breed that’s on the market—however hey—it’s a Lab weblog, proper??? However I’ve been amazed at how my canines will adapt to totally different environments, individuals, and the unintentional “trip-ups”/slip-ups on the a part of us people (sure, that’s me, Ms. Klutsy—flying over Labrador velocity bumps in my home consistently!). Oh! Be careful for these black labs within the bed room in the course of the evening, too! Could I introduce to you:  The Night time Mild. (You’re welcome). LOL.

So when issues go sideways, are you able to adapt? Are you able to bend? Are you able to regulate your self as a substitute of forcing others to adapt to you? What classes can we be taught from our adaptable canine companions in these loopy days?

Canine are so forgiving. Now, don’t get me improper, some don’t neglect a THING! They’re clever sufficient to know to keep away from an uncomfortable state of affairs once they expertise one thing that rattles them, and so they may even know what individual to keep away from. However do they maintain a grudge? Do they go and gossip about how troublesome you’re to dwell with? Do they search revenge? Nope. They go on, they “forgive” (generally even neglect!) in their very own approach, and so they adapt (there’s that phrase once more). They even, typically, give us a second likelihood (these instances make me tear up–they’re SO trustful and so weak, and it’s our duty to guard them). So, y’all, simply hear me right here–can we give one another the good thing about the doubt extra typically??? That’s definitely one factor I’ve discovered and tried to use, particularly when confronted with indignant, pissed off, sad individuals. Typically our human “wag,” or SMILE, can flip somebody’s day round–perhaps even give them hope in humankind once more. Boy, all of us want a few of that. Be sort. I’ll say it once more…be sort…however be smart–one other couple of issues we are able to be taught from our “labby loves.”

***(Please notice, I’m not bringing rescue or traumatized canines into this weblog because it a wholly totally different weblog to be written!)

When socializing canines and puppies, I’m very, very cautious to take issues in stride. I’m not overprotective, and I expose them to as a lot as attainable so they are going to be CONFIDENT canines. One such state of affairs that continuously arises at our place is the chance to swim in our “labrador lake” (truly, it’s a VERY massive pond). However the FIRST time has every part to do with making it a great expertise out of 1 that many canines by no means adapt to, or develop a concern of. Our aim of the day is to not sink, however swim!

Two days in the past, our household took just a little 14-week outdated yellow lab pup, SKYE, to the pond for his first swim (a brand new addition to our kennel and associated to our REIGN–a half-brother). For those who check out my Youtube video, I clarify the steps we at all times take after we train this new, thrilling talent, pure to the Labrador Retriever. And Skye took to it completely. There have been no high-pitched “cooing” phrases like “Its OKaaayyyyy…” or “it’s going to be alriiiight…” as a result of, if it doesn’t go proper, your canine will at all times get nervous once they hear “that voice” (canine trainers—be at liberty to chime in—I’ve by no means deemed myself an animal behaviorist or coach!). I take the leash (me dealing with ahead, at a daily stride), and I stroll ahead with the canine. Even when they hesitate, I nonetheless coax–I’ll use treats out in entrance if wanted. However we’re going someplace, and so they sense my relaxed focus. I did so with Skye that day.

(Don’t even hassle with one other leash–ENGLISH LEADS ROCK!!! I’ll by no means use one other leash once more–GOODNESS–THIS IS MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE–psst—you will have to cover it from relations–SERIOUSLY!). It’s a nice slip lead, very sturdy, and fends off pungent leashes and collars too. YUCK. And it leaves no “ring across the neck” look. It dries out quick after getting moist!

If not leash skilled, do this FIRST, then use this technique if you wish to construct confidence in your canine whereas going someplace on a leash. Go into Petco and not using a phrase of “oh, its okay, child….” However make it “that is what we do, and there’s nothing to be fearful of” in your physique language and lack of phrases (besides the occasional “good boy,” Skye, and so on…–however provided that he’s responding to your route. Don’t say “good boy” if he’s not or it can ingrain the other conduct). Give treats to random individuals within the retailer (or wherever you’re coaching) and have them give them to your canine if you purposely run into them–and wallah–Petco is now MECCA in your canine! 🙂 AND…everyone seems to be his FRIEND! 🙂  ALWAYS add optimistic issues that encourage your canine, whether or not that be toys or meals (sure, with Labs, it’s often FOOD!), however dispense of them as soon as the talent is mastered. No have to have a canine that can solely “work” for meals! 🙂 —Sure, that’s you, Labradors!– LOL

(Above: ODIN and SKYE–chances are you’ll discover the streams of water flying off of Odin! Two SOAKED canines!)

Let’s go to the Pond:  So off to the pond we went (SKYE curled up at my feed within the ATV—cute, however hadn’t deliberate on that) and we took Reign with us—our “associate in coaching”, and enthusiastic simmer!! In our case, we would have liked no coaxing or treats in anyway. ODIN additionally joined in, and SKYE surprisingly adopted him, as a substitute of Reign, and waded alongside the banks with him, then tumbled over some grass into the water, and coaching had begun! I used to be so happy to see him let his ft depart the underside of the pond inside mere minutes of gently falling in, despite the fact that Odin was setting a lower than stellar instance. However all of the whereas, REIGN swam round us all, displaying SKYE this was a FUN GAME!!! He’s hooked! (Simply in case you questioned). I certainly wished it to be a profitable day and that he wouldn’t sink, however swim. And guess what—that first tumble he took over the lengthy grass into the pond may have saved him from making an attempt once more, however he didn’t surrender. He even went underneath and sunk only a bit, however bobbed to the floor, legs moving-fluidly, eyes broad with pleasure at his newfound recreation. And naturally, he had the collective cheers and encouragement from all of us, and it confirmed that he was as happy together with his new talent as have been we! Keep in mind these round you who’re hurting—sinking–cheer them on. Assist when you may, and encourage those that are struggling or adjusting to the “new regular.” Proper now, many may use some cheer. Keep in mind that one time your canine sat by your aspect and stared deeply into your eyes as if they only knew? They have been there as a result of they knew you wanted their presence. Let’s be there for individuals.

This brings me to my final level. Canine be taught simply and eagerly if allowed to be taught in a optimistic, rewarding ambiance. In some methods, it’s so much like elevating kids. After which—to our delight—our canines repeat the foolish little methods they’ve discovered time and again for us– both to please us or simply as a result of they’re embracing and having fun with life—one thing they remind me to do rather more of. Keep in mind that in life, irrespective of the place you go, you may carry a optimistic angle and a “can-do” spirit. Our canines definitely do!

God certainly did make a fantastic “man’s finest buddy” when he made “DOG” …and I’m so grateful for it. He not solely made a fantastic companion however a fantastic demonstration of a few of His finest traits (I’ll allow you to fill them in as a result of you recognize them! –too many to cowl right here…)

With like to my fellow canine lovers,



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