Leading the Pack

My dog Jazzmin “Sundance” Corbin is an adorable and loving mutt, just like me. I adopted her from a local shelter in January 2012 and my life has never been the same. I wasn’t a strong leader or an alpha dog when I adopted her. I was lonely and wanted a dog to be my companion when my daughters were with their father. Jazz happily took on the role of mama caretaker and pack leader because she sensed weakness in me and thought she needed to be in control. I only know all that now that I’ve started reading Cesar’s Way and watching The Dog Whisperer on Netflix. I can now see everything I’ve done wrong with Jazz and I’m working diligently to fix things.

I should have started reading Cesar’s books last summer when my close friend recommended them. He’s had dogs for most of his life and knows far more about them than I do. I grew up with dogs but I was never solely responsible for one until I got Jazz. My friend has met Jazz and while she dragged me along when he and I walked, the moment he took the leash from me, she was a totally different dog. Calm, obedient, attentive and eager to do whatever he asked.

In truth she was still the same dog but the energy my friend emitted was far more in control and “calm assertive” than my usual tense, worried and uncertain energy. That day he showed me that Jazzmin could be the dog I wanted her to be. Did I run right out and get Cesar’s books that moment because he suggested them? No. Why? A mixture of stupidity and stubbornness I suppose. But that was then and this is now and as Jazzmin lives in the now, all she cares is that her mama is finally fulfilling her as a dog.

While watching The Dog Whisperer I see a lot of dogs with behavior issues similar to Jazz. What that really means is that their owners are emitting the wrong energy and those dogs have become the pack leaders. I’m working really hard on improving my energy. I can be an overly perky and optimistic person sometimes but I have trouble believing in my own strength. I need to focus my positive outlook on myself and stop doubting my abilities. Becoming Jazz’s pack leader is extremely beneficial for both of us. Having more confidence in myself and taking on the role of pack leader allows Jazz to relinquish the role she never really wanted. It also improves who I am as a person and how I function in every aspect of my life.

I’ve been working on asserting myself as the pack leader for almost two weeks now. I get up early on the mornings I have my girls and walk her around the yard and driveway for 20-30 minutes. When I don’t have the girls I take her for longer walks after work. Jazz and I have greatly improved on the walk. She’s not pulling all the time and she’s less distracted by every bird, leaf, stray breeze and particle of dust we walk by. We’re still working on how she reacts to other dogs but we’ve made great progress! Last night I walked the “Doggy Gauntlet” with her. The Doggy Gauntlet is how I describe purposely walking by houses where I know the dogs are allowed to run free and it also includes walking by a local kennel. I walked Jazz with a Gentle Leader and an Outward Hound backpack weighed down with a couple of water bottles. (The Beanie Baby cargo in the pictures was just to get her used to the backpack and to make my youngest daughter smile.)

How did our walk through the Doggy Gauntlet go? Well, we lived to tell the tale but that tale will have to wait until the next post. Stay tuned!

Excuses are Easy

Excuses are easy. I know this because I use them myself. Excuses are easy but work is hard. It’s so much less strenuous to give ourselves a reason not to do something than to muster our strength and just do what needs to be done! Sometimes when we give someone an excuse we’re trying to get out of doing something for them even though it’s within our power to do it. Sometimes we give excuses because we’re hoping the other person won’t sympathize with us but will in fact motivate us to do the task at hand. Either way, the ultimate choice of what we do is within our hands.

Yesterday morning it was rainy and cold so I didn’t walk my dog Jazzmin as I’d been doing the previous two mornings. I felt guilty about it but I thought I had a viable excuse for not exercising her. It was pouring when I got home from work so my excuse not to walk her remained. I was tired after work and it would’ve been extremely easy to just spend the night sitting and writing. That’s not what I did. After a snack I did the P90x2 arms and shoulders workout. When I was finished with that the rain had stopped so I got Jazz all collared and leashed and we went for a brisk, hilly walk. Was I tired after all that? A little. But I was so proud of myself for doing what I needed to do that my energy returned stronger than before.Β I know from extensive past experience that doing physical exercise increases my energy so if I just stop feeling sorry for myself, get off my butt and exercise, I’ll discover that untapped energy that’s always inside me.

I’ve been learning a lot more about energy lately. From a close friend with extensive dog knowledge and from the dog whisperer, Cesar Millan, I’m discovering how positive and powerful energy is important for properly training Jazz. She doesn’t know what I’m saying when I tell her “I’m too tired to walk you” she just recognizes my energy as weak. I can’t allow myself to emit that kind of energy. I am the pack leader and she needs to see that at all times. She doesn’t care that I’m tired after work and that it’s pouring rain, she has energy she wants to release, she wants to walk!

I have a very active and creative imagination and I can always think of tons of excuses not to do something. Excuses are a waste of my energy and a waste of my time. I’m tired, I’m afraid, I’m sore, no one understands me, everyone judges me, I have it harder than everybody else…those aren’t just excuses, some of them are outright lies. I do get sad and feel sorry for myself but ALWAYS without fail I come out of it and then reprimand myself for wasting precious time on the negative when the positive is so much stronger!

It’s entirely possible that my friends get tired of me trying so hard to see the positive side of every situation (and sometimes I fail at doing so) but I remain persistent. I’ve survived many challenges, so have we all, but if I’d given in to weakness I wouldn’t be where I am today and there’s no acceptable excuse for that.