There’s an old saying that patience is a virtue, and I have to say that for most of my life it was one of the many virtues I did not possess. None at all. Zip. Zero. However, I recently said, “I’m in no hurry” to somebody, and had a real moment of self-awareness. What happened? I asked myself. The short answer is: dogs happened.
I never read the book, but the premise of it was that life can be narrowed down to some real basics. Share things, be polite, and so on. I don’t recall kindergarten being a real education for me, but when I think about replacing the word “Kindergarten” with “Dogs” I really do start to understand what the author meant. Like small children, dogs don’t really have an agenda. They are just navigating through life trying to figure out what their people are asking them to do. In order to get them there, however, we need to do what works for them. I never really got this until I became a dog trainer. When I started as a trainer I had an agenda – I would do x at this time and y would happen. The dogs, however, had a different plan and they weren’t following mine. Sure, sometimes the plan worked, but most other times I had to take a breath and change my expectations. This was hard at first, but it actually became liberating. Taking the time to do what I needed to do to help clients get the dogs they needed became the goal. In other words, dog training was no longer about one end goal but about the journey.
Dog training helped me be a more patient trainer and that helped make me a more patient human being. I don’t pretend to have changed my ways completely, but you can teach an old dog new tricks!