It's starting to feel screamingly apparent that I am not moving forward as a handler. I'm swirling somewhere near the bottom of Thank You with numbers so low we should get special parking.
In trying to examine more thoroughly where I am lacking, the answer seems to be in everything this side of Cuddling, actually. I'm not 'handling' so much as being 'handled'.
It's not unlike how I raised my children.
I was a single parent for most of my children's lives. I brought my daughter home from the hospital, took one look at her weak little neck and uncoordinated fist waving, her full and malodorous diaper, and said,
"Okay, Fair enough – I'll change that, and then I'll order us pizza; you start working on getting upright and being able to tell me what to do next."
And Cienna thrived on my weakness as a parent, my strong shoulders were for shrugging and cute outfits. Yes, cute in an Asian tourist way, and I wore a fanny pack for way too long, but what matters is that I never had to try anything on. She was running both our lives before most kids can run. She could order food for me, send it back if it wasn't right… in her tiny voice demand to see the 'mangener'….
This was always disconcerting to adults, especially with me sitting next to her, playing with my food, nodding.
As even the wee-ist of toddlers, Cie could advise me on which hamsters to buy, why we should watch the same movie 398 times. She even picked out our first car, a 1974 bright orange VW bug; she was three and still wearing things that snapped at the crotch and I didn't question her choice as we strolled the Sleazy Steve's Used Car lot no further. It was ORANGE! A color she had just learned to pronounce correctly. Sure the vehicle hardly went a week without breaking down, It was more of a storage unit than transportation, but she was right – it was cute.
I really have never wanted to be an authority figure. I don't like having to be tough. I'm not big on correction. I might be wrong! I prefer unconditional compromise and asking "Why?" instead of answering it..
Advising me came fast and easy for my daughter. For me, taking advice from someone smaller and only slightly more prone to crying was also simple.
A baby can get away with that for an answer. She didn't even have to use profanity until 3rd grade.
I raised a confident, bright little dictator and her strong silent brother..
Carlos was also easy, but different: Where Cienna is a constant stream of suggestions and demands, you have to really ask Carlos straight up for an opinion. He never offers one unless he feels like you are making a serious mistake, and even then he is careful. He's quiet and easy going and doesn't have strong opinions about too much, but when he does, we all listen. He is Right. He hasn't been wrong since he stopped listening to Good Charlotte in 6th grade.
They are two very different people, but they turned out to be two of the best people that have walked this planet, or any of the planets portrayed on any of the (good) Star Trek series/spinoffs.
All I had to do was drive us places and pay for stuff. Win/win
This isn't playing out nearly as well on dogs. Nor is shrugging or standing by while they make the decisions for us.
My driving and paying for stuff is about the only useful tool from my parenting years and it is only getting us so far.
I have these dogs and this sport that needs Authority. Strong leadership. Jai needs me to be a strong partner in control; she needs me to supply constant influencial input. NOT because she can't make decisions, but because at this point, the decisions she is making are the Easy Way Out…overflank, catch the sheeps eye, stop movement, grip.
Jack needs me to run up the field and make him feel very sorry for his choices. Jack needs his shit jumped to stop busting through and gripping his sheep. Then he needs me to be supportive and encouraging, though stop short of letting him hump my leg. (For some reason we always get to this point with male dogs, my leg and I)
Anyway. More trials coming up, not a ton of training time so I need to make what I have count. I need to change. I know this, or I say I do….and then I expect something else, everything else, to change for me.
This weekend: Athena. I've entered Jack, and Jai…and PAT! in the Jackpot. Oh yeah. Tri-fecta.