Another year of blogging has come and gone as February 26 marked my two year blogiversary.
Time is such a fluid thing. The older I get the faster it screams by me. The busier I get the harder it gets to pay attention to it’s passing. I try to quantify it by measuring X many months since THIS or THAT happened. But it still doesn’t seem concrete in my head.
This last year of blogging has had some real up and downs, as every year does. Which highlights another aspect of time passing- each year is a different set of events repeating the same pattern. In my Real Life there have been some major changes that I never thought I’d see and that pattern holds true in my Dog Life too.
If you told me last February I’d be a professional dog trainer I would never have believed you. Even writing professional today doesn’t seem true. I just don’t tend to think of my self in those terms. I’m a learner and even in my teaching roles in life I never feel qualified to claim a title of “Knower” since I consider my life a continual process of learning. Plus, the more I learn the more I realize I don’t know. Since I find not knowing quite aversive my 4legged lesson from last February is still true, “. . .let your pups teach you all they can as fast as you can learn. You never know what they are preparing you for.” I certainly could never have predicted my pups were preparing me to take training into a career!
It wasn’t all lessons and learning, when I look back I’m reminded of some silly moments too. This post about snip and snails and puppy dog tails reminded while some things have changes greatly some remain the same. Magnus is still bringing me disgusting things, but none as gross as the dead mouse he brought in a couple months ago!
Looking back there are some things I wrote that surprised me. Last March I wrote, “I’d say I use 85%, maybe even 90%, positive methods. . .” I can’t think why I wrote that at the time, I would say now I am 100% positive reinforcement trainer. I think it reflects one area I’ve grown greatly in the last year. I have a much better understanding of learning theory and the 4 quadrants of positive reinforcement training. I also value that understanding more since I really feel like understanding how negative reinforcement, negative punishment and positive punishment work helps build a more comprehensive training plan. Interestingly understanding the other quadrants has only driven me to find solutions in positive reinforcement even more. I’m proud to say I really have become a “serene trainer” as I set out to in that post.
I really love looking back through the months. It reminds me of things I learned and forgot. This post about Maizey taking Petite Pal’s class really shows that. It’s weird that a year ago she was in classes at all. I would never put her through that now. And though the post is full of lessons and things we learned in class, what it’s most full of is how much I love her. I guess it looks like we’ve lost ground since then, but in reality we’ve gained ground since our relationship has grown to where I’m much more confident in letting her be her.
I’m really glad I have the blog to remind me what we’ve done. It puts things in perspective. Especially things that are easy to get emotional about like Maizey’s progress. It also reminds me of things we trained that I didn’t really take anywhere, but learned from the journey. All in all it was a crazy year and I’m glad I have a record of it.