Thursday, September 2, 2010
You Can Take the Geek Away from the Dogs...
On Tuesday night, I went to the Lady Gaga concert. Wait, wait! I promise this will relate to dog training. After all, you can take the geek away from dogs, but you can’t… stop her… from thinking about dogs? I don’t know- I can’t make the metaphor work, but you know what I mean.
Anyway, I know that The Lady is not for everyone, and that’s fine. I’m not here to convince you that she’s the best thing to hit the airwaves in the last 10 years (although, in my opinion, she is. Before that, the best thing was Bree Sharp). But no matter if you love her or hate her, I think we can learn from her. As a result, I present to you…
The Top Four Things I Learned About Dog Training from Lady Gaga
1. Success takes hard work.
When Lady Gaga puts on a show, she goes all out. I was amazed by the fact that she could dance that well for that long. I mean, over 2 hours of all-out cardio would probably cause me to die of a heart attack. Not her, though. It’s clear that she’s put a lot of effort into her stage show, plus, she writes all of her own lyrics and plays the piano. She’s worked hard to get where she is.
Don’t get me wrong- success also takes talent, and a little bit of luck. But far and away, the most important ingredient for success is working hard. This means taking the time to build strong foundations for our dogs, proofing the exercises through increasing distractions, and educating ourselves on the best ways to train.
2. It’s not all about you.
Lady Gaga’s stage show was one-part charity fundraiser (for Re*Generation, a charity tackling youth homelessness), one-part social cause (gay rights, to which she devoted several songs), and one-part fan appreciation. The Lady really loves her fans, and she even delivered a lovely message that at the end of the night, we shouldn’t love her more, but rather, love ourselves more.
I suspect that the people who read my blog will agree with me: Dog sports are not all about us, the handlers. Part of why I enjoy training and trialing is the bond that I form with my dog in the process. I love the way it deepens our relationship. And I constantly remind myself that I will never sacrifice my dog’s well-being for the sake of a title. My dog doesn’t “owe” me anything, and her purpose is not to make me look good or to stroke my ego about what a good trainer I am. We’re a team. If she’s not having fun, if she doesn’t want to do it, that’s it. We’re done.
3. You have to follow your dreams.
Lady Gaga is really all about embracing your “inner freak.” She acknowledged that sometimes the media sends awful messages about how we ought look and think and act, but that we shouldn’t let society’s judgments stop us from being who we are, or who we want to become.
I think it’s easy to become discouraged sometimes, especially when you have a non-traditional breed, or a Dog with Issues. And yes, it will be more difficult for my friend and her greyhound to do obedience, or for Maisy to become a champion. We might never get there- see point 2 above- but that doesn’t mean we should give up before we even start.
4. Live in the moment.
I know this might sound odd, given Lady Gaga’s over-the-top costumes, crazy antics, and general theatrics, but the overall vibe I got from her was that of humility and thankfulness. She seems to know that popularity can be fleeting, and she doesn’t take that for granted. I think she’s loving every minute of what she’s got, knowing that it might be gone next year.
And isn’t that an important message for us all? It’s easy to dream big, or to get so focused on what we want that we forget to appreciate what we have right now. No matter where we are, whether it’s winning first place in the ring, or napping in the back yard with our dogs, we should appreciate that moment for everything that it is.