Pay attention

                 One of the amazing shots from my surf shoot. 

I'm a watcher.  Being a dog trainer who specializes in behavior modification, watching comes with the territory.  But when I watch, I am watching the whole package; that means I'm watching the dog, the human and the interaction of the two.  I see things that others do not.  Watching and seeing are two different things; just like listening and actually hearing are different. 

The other day I watched a man who was walking up ahead of me.   I was out on a surf shoot; taking the long walk down to the beach, there were many dog and humans out and about.  I was not in my training mode, but my watcher never turns off.  The man ahead of me walking his dog caught my eye.  His dog was slightly behind him and kept moving further and further back.  I very quickly popped into my behavior dissecting mode.  What was going on here? 

It only took a moment to see that the dog was being hit in the face with his very large buckle and leash.  The dog had on a chain leash which I do not understand at all.  They are heavy and cumbersome for both human and dog which I explain in my new Feedback book.  The dog was dealing with it, but not enjoying his walk like he could have been.  I see this on a regular basis. 

Our dogs are responsive to life and experience around them.  As such they will respond to things that we may be oblivious to.  I am often called to a behavior appointment to unravel a mysterious behavior.  When I arrive it is watch time and typically it doesn't take long to uncover the mystery. 

Many humans go through their day to day with a dog by their side.  But we don't always pay attention.  It is amazing what you will see if you pay attention. 

The end of one story, onto the next.

                     Incredible to think that this was 2.5 years ago.  Seems like yesterday. 

It's gone, # 2 novel (And Back Again) is now in the hands of my editor.  Late Friday afternoon with memories in my heart and tears in my eyes I pushed away from my computer and hollered.  The story has been written and now needs the talents of an editor.  Of course it still has a while to go before it is on paper and available but the bulk of the work is done.  It has been a great deal of work putting some of my experiences, thoughts and life into a story.  The first book (PBJ and me) which is available to read now, was quite different than this one.  #2 is about twice as long and has a great deal more twists and turns.

PBJ and  me also available on Amazon in paperback and KINDLE versions. 

I love writing but after having a book in front of me asking attention for over two years; it is a great feeling to send it off and pull up a new one to work on.  And Back Again begins two and half years ago in actuality; the story plays out over a three and a half month time span.  I still cannot believe how much happened in such a short amount of time and reliving it over and over again until completion of the book has been therapeutic. 

As the first story (PBJ and me) began to unfold before me; I had no idea that a novel was underway.  For those of you who have read the book; you know that our story did not end up how we had planned at all.  Life has a way of doing that to us doesn't it?  We may have a plan but life has it's own plan for us.  Sometimes life plays out happy and wonderful; sometimes it does not.  But life is life and life itself holds countless experiences from the very tiniest of moments to the monumental ones. 

As you all know dogs are my life.  I am a long time dog trainer, professional dog photographer and writer; all of this fits nicely into And Back Again.  Its all in the book, every box checked; training, photography and writing all come together. 

So it is onto the next project; perhaps there will be a #3 novel, I do love a good story.  There is a training book waiting to be completed and a third children's book that needs attention.  In between the books are more shoots, both canine and human and training.  It's a crazy dog life, but it's mine. 

Here and now

With the sound of Elsa flapping her ears I was sort of awake; awake enough to look at the clock, 5:00am.  Feeling the chill in the air I whispered, barely audible... "Elsa."  It always amazes me how well she can hear; after having old dogs for so long and Luke losing his hearing now.  But it is what she is waiting to hear so she is all ears.  She's up and snuggled down in a heartbeat.  After a few good morning kisses she settles down with her full weight across my back.  As I struggle to get comfortable under her weight she does her typical dead dog routine; seeming to quadruple her actual weight.  She doesn't care how much I wriggle around trying to get comfy; she's where she wants to be and very much in the here and now. 

It didn't take long to feel the twitching as she fell deeper into her dreamland once again.  In a matter of moments she was back to sleep; "must be nice I" I thought to myself.  To be able to fall asleep so quickly is something that can be allusive to we humans.  As I tried to keep the thoughts of the day to come out of my head; I was losing the battle and they were flooding in.  I was going to be at the gym early today, where would we walk, what photo work lay ahead of me?  All of these were seeping in as I heard Elsa start to dream.

This blog started in my head long before I was even up.  I was writing it while trying to not think about my blog or anything else.  Well, sleep was not happening so I figured that I may as well get up.  Throwing my robe on, I head downstairs to get a much needed cup of coffee.  I was up early enough to see Brad head off to work.  With a hot cup of coffee and bowl of chilli (my favorite breakfast is left over dinner) left over from last nights dinner in hand I head back to bed to blog.  So here we are.

As much as dogs can drop and be asleep at a rate that is almost unbelievable; they can also be awake and ready to rumble as quickly.  If I put my running shoes on at this very moment; Elsa would be more than ready to go.  Me on the other hand, I need time to wake up before I hit the gym.  I like to go in the morning but I need wake up time.  Elsa does not, she is very much in the here and now.  Whatever is happening, she's on it.  Both Elsa and Luke follow me constantly throughout the day.  Luke in his younger years was a foot watcher; constantly gaging my every move with a slight turn of my foot.  He of course has slowed now and follows more as I leave room to room.

Some dogs like Elsa who are highly intelligent and very aware of their surroundings are more obvious in their here and now.  While others seem a little oblivious to the here and now which surrounds them; their behavior suggests a sort of plodding through life obliviously.  But even these guys who don't show that they are aware of the changes around them are aware and living very much in the here and now.  When we are out on a walk, Luke and Elsa are very much 'on a walk.'  They are not letting yesterday, next Thursday or the thought of daily errands seep into their here and now.  They are on a walk and a walk is what they are doing. 

As I headed off to a photo shoot on the weekend I passed a woman walking her dog down the street.  The dog was very much into their walk with his head buried deep in the bushes.  The woman on the other hand was somewhere else; she walked far ahead with her arm stretched back as she came to a halt.  She never even looked backed to see what was going on with her dog and gave an almighty yank on the leash.   The dogs head dropped almost hitting the ground before being dragged along with his owner. 

We need to learn to be in the here and now from our dogs.   I bring my phone on walks in case something happened and I needed to call someone for help.  Or of course to capture a cute photo of something that Luke or Elsa is doing.  But I do not carry on a conversation with someone while I am on a walk with my dogs.  When on a walk, I am on a walk and we are walking together as one.  Much of the rest of the day is mine and I am doing errands, working out of the house or on my computer so when we are out together that is where I try to be.  Of course things can slip in and try to get my attention but I try hard to leave them to think about later.

We have busy lives, some busier than others and there is much to think about.  But being in the here and now is one of the best lessons our dogs can give us.  Living each moment in that moment is so very important; because once it has passed, it is gone forever.  Waking in the night or early morning is probably one of the most difficult things to keep clear.  Just laying there inactive lends itself to stuff getting in and leaving you sleepless.  Yes I wish that I could have got a few more zzzzs this morning; but I'm also happy to be up nice and early.  When I am blogging before the sun comes up; it is Luke, Elsa, me and a cup of joe and I love it.  Nothing gets in our morning time, nothing.