Lessons from My Dog

Despite it being just a few weeks into summer and the fact I am really trying to honour the necessity of some much needed time to recharge, there is still a whole lot of “education” going on around my house. Roo, my ten-month-old Australian Cattle Dog/Beagle mix puppy is learning every single day, and very much still in need of some teaching or training.

Roo is the quintessential puppy; high energy, playful, fun and inquisitive. She loves bones, balls, sticks, water, treats, things that move and walks. She has many great qualities. She is good on the leash, very sociable with dogs of all sizes and ages, affectionate, easy going and always happy. She is resilient and tough; already battling through two UTIs and an allergic reaction in her short life. She can also be difficult to manage when she gets amped up, likes to bark at our three cats and struggles to behave appropriately at times around food. She is still learning. Hence, I turn on “teacher mode”.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that educating the youth of today in schools can be equated to the learning and training of a puppy, but yet there are many parallels. Over the last number of weeks, I have been struck by just how many. In many ways, learning is learning, regardless of the audience.

Key Foundations of Learning

Setting routines, boundaries, and expectations is essential

  • Setting the stage to know what to expect and being consistent is key.

Learning often takes time

  • Learning is a marathon, not a sprint. It often takes time. Chunk expectations and goals. Be patient.

Stay positive

  • Celebrating successes, honouring strengths, reinforcing the positive and planning for next steps is what keeps learning moving forward.

It always comes down to relationships

  • Roo trusts me. We have a connection and a bond. This whole dynamic is much more complicated with the whole master and dominance piece with dogs, but ultimately it all comes down to relationships.

Learners have different needs

  • What works for one learner will not work for all. Every learner is different. Be a problem solver, differentiate and look for alternative means to reach the goal.

Remember the power of the network

  • There is nothing more powerful than talking with others, sharing experiences and getting ideas through connecting. When we are open to learning from each other we all benefit. We also need to rely on our “experts”. (Special thanks to Lisa Morin, Stacy from Leo & Co., Ashley Reid, Kerry Nemet and Doggy Dan)

All of these principles drive the work I am doing with my puppy this summer. They also are reflective and embedded in the work I have done with both children and adults over the last twenty plus years. Learning is learning.

Roo’s learning is a work in progress. That’s true for all of us. And as we continue to work on her training this summer, I learn alongside her. She also teaches me many things. She reminds me to greet each new day with enthusiasm, play more, enjoy the simple things, and love unconditionally. There is much we can learn from each other! Wish me luck as the adventures of Roo continue!


Cornwell Chronicle…2017-A Year in Review

Well, 2017 was a heck of a year on our homefront. Although I am not sorry to see it go, the writer in me feels the need to reflect on the challenges, adventures and things to celebrate it brought us through some sort of process of documentation. Thank you to Sue McFarlane Penner, a dear friend and one of my true gifts of 2017. Her inspiring Thanksgiving Family Gratitude letters helped me recognize the importance of capturing all that life brings us as a family through the power of words.