Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dancing White Dogs

Last night Bizz and I headed out around 7 for the dog park. It was such a hot sunny day I thought he would do better with a long walk in the evening.  At the small dog section amazingly it was all little white dogs.  A husband and wife had two dogs - one a white maltipoo and one a white poodle and another woman had a white labradoodle.  We were all enjoying watching the four of them run around and chase each other.  The one white maltipoo had a straighter coat than Bizz but what impressed me most was that they had died the lower half of her white ear hair hot pink.  She looked so cool.  But then I was really amazed - she began to dance.  The owner was working with her and she rose up on her hind legs and began walking backwards and forwards then twirled.  She was dancing.  It was so amazing. We begged the owner to teach us and he told us it took a few months but it was like all the other training - picking a key word, reinforcing the behaviors with treats and lots and lots of practice.

So now in my mind is a mental image of Bizz dancing. He can already leap about and is up on his hind legs all the time leaning on me. So his new training word is going to be dance.

My friend Deanna has a daughter Maya who is a ballet dancer. She's been dancing since she was 2 or 3 years old and at age 10 has become an amazing dancer.  I cannot believe how strong she is and how, after all this time, she is still completely dedicated and focused.  She has lessons practically every day and I'm in awe of how she handles dance, her homework and having a great group of friends.  And of course she is a favorite of Bizz.  Somehow I can picture Maya twirling and Bizz right along side her one of these days.  Will make a great video.

What ties all this together?  Practice, dedication and passion.  In Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers he talks about how you can become expert in just about anything if you practice 10,000 hours.  That makes sense. The old adage Practice makes perfect comes to mind. 

One of the trainers and a friend of mine have both said the same thing - you have to keep your dog challenged so they don't become bored.  The same I think is true of people.  We have to be endlessly learning new things, taking on new challenges in order to keep our minds lively and sharp.

So Bizz is going to learn to dance and I'm going to learn how to be a better trainer.  Let's see how long it takes.

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