Tuesday, May 08, 2007

It's SO Hard!

In my previous post, I observed how delighted our Labs seem when called upon to "work." They're eager and energetic and enthusiastic in the jobs they're called upon to perform.

And that's wonderful; it's part of what's so endearing about the breed.

But that enthusiasm has its down side. Sometimes they're so eager (thinking they know what's coming next), they miss commands or jump in too soon.

Remember those pictures I posted last time of how nicely the "kids" were sitting and waiting for Don ? Hehe...well, here's what I didn't show you:

Here's Ridge breaking his sit in anticipation of Don's command to retrieve (Don has not yet thrown the dummy or given Ridge the okay to run.):

He's just so eager, he can hardly contain himself. Just look at his haunches (if you saw this up close, you'd see his muscles twitching with excitement). Look at his intensity watching Don. He knows Don's command is coming; it's just so hard to wait for the right time.

Here's Elsie doing the same thing, only in her quiet, gentle way:

She, too, quivers in anticipation. Her enthusiasm and eagerness to please push her almost (and only almost) beyond her ability to hear Don's instruction.

And then there's the Kenya bean. She broke as soon as Don moved to throw the dummy:

Silly girl. She's eager, too, but her eagerness hasn't yet been tempered by maturity and training.

She just wants to run.

Our canine kids are sometimes so bent on doing what they think we're going to ask them to do, they fail to wait until we actually give the commands. And when they're this eager, they sometimes miss the commands all together. Then they get it wrong.

So what do we do with that kind of eagerness?

We value it and direct it, but never quash it. The solution to our Labs' early breaks is patience, time, and training. As Don works with them, they begin to hold their "sit," "stay," and "wait" positions better; they learn to wait for Don's directional commands so they know which way to run instead of running aimlessly.

As so it goes for our eager-to-meet-the-world adult kids. They sometimes "break" before they know what direction they're running. And our response to their eagerness to embrace adult life needs to be every bit as patient, well-timed, and guided as our response is to our Labs.

Youngest Male Child is leaving this week, at nineteen, for a summer job at Cedar Point in Ohio. He just completed his freshman year in college and is ready to fly. But his eagerness is tempered; he's not quite sure about being that far from home for three straight months. And that's okay. A little tempering is a good thing.

He'll be just fine (so I keep telling myself). He's sought our counsel and continues to do so; he's developed solid life skills (knows how to do laundry, maintain a bank account, deal with car repairs, etc...); he knows how to communicate in healthy, effective ways and can advocate for himself; he's got a good head on his shoulders; and he knows what's expected in most work environments (he has a terrific work ethic).

He also knows we're here for him to look back to for direction.

We've already given him all the "training" we can; he has a solid foundation on which he can build the rest of his unfolding life. Our job now is to be patient, to let him run, and be there to guide him.

And we are and will be.

So how come this is so much harder with human kids than with canines????

'Til next time,

1 comment:

jan said...

It sounds like you have given your son a solid foundation to build a productive life. But it was still hard for me to let go when they reached the fly from the nest stage.

I love your eager dogs, they're so bent on pleasing humans that they are trying to read your minds.