Recognize Choice!

Kiska: “Hmm, what was that noise?”  Jedi: “It is something coming to kill us!”

No matter how I tell Jedi’s story, some people feel the need to tell me, I am at fault for Jedi’s reactivity.  How does searching for fault provide value to me?  This leaves me scratching my head, could it be human nature of sorts, albeit unintended.  I challenge those people to change their perspective for just a moment.

If something goes wrong at work, which path is best? Should there be a meeting to find out who we should blame, who we should make feel like crap, who we should look to first if anything else ever goes wrong and talk about behind their back. Or maybe there should there be a meeting where we identify how the error occurred and brainstorm together to find solutions. Put procedures in place to prevent them from happening in the future and feel like we all accomplished something.

I personally experience both paths on a daily basis.  I write application software for a financial division.  Hundreds of millions dollars passed through one of my applications last year.  When someone comes to me saying they made a mistake, it is generally followed by some sort of hyperventilating, lip biting or fidgeting.

The first thing I do is tell people to breathe, then I talk us through it. We decide what needs to be done immediately and get to our tasks.  After we remedy the issue, we go through the process. We brainstorm to see if there are areas where we could improve.  Are there ways for us to prevent the error?  Next, we implement the solutions. Some of the best solutions come from what people think are silly questions. I want to create good relationships.  I want people to feel they can seek me out to ask questions and find solutions, I never belittle them.

One particular women had a string of circumstances, where she was repeatedly chastised for making mistakes. Some as simple as typos, not in the dollar amounts.  Some of these errors caused the payments to be delayed by a day.  Many times she would be out of the office the next day.  She would tear up telling me her experience when she returned.  It shut her down, management caused her distress and to miss a day of work.

She is a kind, witty and a hard worker.  It was rather sad watching her deteriorate. Lose faith in herself. She ceased coming forward with solutions.  She avoided her accusers, stopped seeking their advice, become more recluse.  Less trusting, unmotivated.  Trying to place blame, can have unexpected consequences.

What happens, if we must place blame, for an oversight or a simple mistake?  The possible results, beings could become overtaken by fear. They will make more mistakes; they may get to the point where their brains flood, while they try to figure out if it is the right way. They will be occupied with self-doubt, always wondering if they are making another mistake. Their minds will be filled with anxiety. Eventually, they may shut down and stop trying.  I know this first hand, confrontation has always been a weak spot for me.  Sending my head spinning, even shutting me down.


All minds comprehend differently, but there is one sure thing. The more people are put down, the less apt they will be to try again. YOU can have a direct hand in changing someone’s future.

If the intent is trying to be a problem solver and these types of thoughts come to mind.  What is wrong with Jedi?  Oh it is his owner’s fault.  Try to offer advice, leaving out opinions. Ponder this, can I offer anything positive that is productive?

I make mistakes in my trial and error of this thing we call life, figuring out what is best for me.  I have been guilty of letting past experiences influence new opportunities.  Jedi is a fearful, over-excitable, serious kind of guy, who will fly off the handle so fast there is just no way to catch him. He does not forgive or let things go on a whim.  He is not an easy dog.

Kiska on the other hand, is fun loving, doesn’t take anything to serious, very confident girl.  She has been attacked numerous times.  She is a therapy dog.  She plays so respectfully with other dogs, people ask to socialize their puppy with her!  When challenged over things like a bowl of water, she walks away.  An ambassadress of ambassadresses.  She is an easy dog.

They have a personality, amplified by experiences.  They are not what I made them. Many great trainers, became great trainers, because they had a difficult dog and learned from their experiences.  We can thank the stars above, that they didn’t stop.

As a puppy, Jedi would bark at 5am at anything that moved.  Living in a busy suburb, things like this could get us into trouble.  I started to over-react to situations, never giving Jedi an opportunity to respond his way.  As he matured he hasn’t had enough opportunity to have good outcomes and gain confidence in his decision making skills.

Live and learn! Take each opportunity as it were a new experience. I saw some success today. Jedi saw dump trucks, steamrollers and workers at the end of our driveway. I calmly let him decide how he would respond.  I let him watch from a safe distance. I gave the commotion none of my attention.  Kept walking in my zen world, we walked towards the chaotic event and then turned down our regular path.  He didn’t look to me guidance once.  He didn’t ask me a single question.  He didn’t bat an eye and came with me. It worked, I am rolling with that.

I have a friend, whose child was thought to be autistic, not fully diagnosed at this point. She can not speak or communicate her needs at four years old. Her daughter would get very frustrated. No one understands her simple needs, such needing a drink of water? Her daughter would vent her frustrations, by screaming, crying and running.


When I was with her and her daughter had meltdowns, I would see people’s faces that witnessed these events.  Staring, crunch their faces, shake their heads, roll their eyes, gather their children and move away. OH, HOW I KNOW THOSE LOOKS! Seemingly horrified, by her daughters actions. Maybe we don’t know the whole story. Her daughter simply doesn’t understand how to productively communicate her frustrations.

Jedi’s reactions are of similar consequence.  He hasn’t learned a productive way to express himself when he sees something of concern. What he did learn, is his barking lunging behavior, moves dogs away from him.  In his mind, that is what works. We will keep trying, no matter how most people’s reactions make us feel. Saying Jedi is a mean, evil dog, doesn’t help.  Telling me it is my fault, doesn’t help us move forward. It fuels our anxiety and this makes it harder on us next time.

This has been no small feat for me, getting over the looks, being chastised, the passive aggressive audible whispers, hearing mean, mean opinions.  They were not productive.  I believe this is why it has taken us so long, to finally find our place. This long, to feel like we also belong in this world.

I choose to ignore the looks and words that hurt.  I instead focus on what I can do.  I can ask people to recognize how they are making me feel. I won’t stop trying, but others may have given up by now.  They may have been shutdown and stopped trying.  They are the ones who need us most!

I believe people have hopes and dreams for their pets, children or their lives. Things don’t always go the way we plan. Sometimes we must alter perspectives. We must change our perception of life, to find our own ultimate happiness. We must try and try again. Don’t make it more difficult for the next person to get up and try again.


Think of past mistakes. WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES!  It is how we learn. Treat others the way anyone would hope to be treated, if a mistake was made. How do we become a better people, community and society? Instead of looking for the blame, can we start adding solutions. No one is perfect, listen and learn from mistakes.  Educate when possible, let’s open our minds and listen. We will progress faster, especially if we try to build good relationships.

An often-overlooked aspect in a relationship is alliance. This is created when we have mutual respect for each other.  Willing to put their own needs aside and chose to do what is best for the team. Of course, I am still the team leader with Jedi. I do not focus on the outer lying issues or the drama. I search for the heart of the matter. I create fair parameters in which we function. There has to be order or there is only chaos. I respect the fact that we are all creatures who deserve to be on this earth. I try to respect people’s needs. I know if I do not, I create division.

In my dog training class, we end each session with the teams running through a course. I have the whole group clap for each team as they finish. It is a very interesting thing, how this has changed my classes. It created camaraderie, smiles and laughter. It releases the tension for everyone. If a team is struggling during the course, I cheer-lead. I point out the good things they are doing and my cheering gets the rest of the class cheering for them as well. I want them to know, their attempts are valiant. Somehow, my class picks up on this and they will offer cheering in future classes without my prompting.

Sometimes a team gets more clapping or cheering when they are done. This creates a little competition. I think it makes people train harder during the week. In the end they know it is all in fun, because I make sure it is a safe environment for them to learn. Students will offer their own experiences for others to benefit from. They are bringing each other up. I see in the student’s eyes, that they believe they can do it. Having someone believe in YOU is a powerful thing.

I am getting more regulars now. My words cannot describe what an amazing thing it is to be a part of. My heart smiles to the core! This is a team, an alliance, they are building relationships and it is awesome!


Can I ask, please, please try to understand, I do my best for Jedi. How he responds is his choice. I cannot stop him from feeling anxious or fearful.  Please don’t add to my anxiety, by making me feel I am doing something wrong.

I do my best not add to his stress, allowing him to experience situations where he reaches his max. For then his only choice is to react. I will keep him safe. I hold his trust in me in the highest regard. I will remain his pillar of solid strength and calm. I do demand his respect and he gets mine. I will always try to create an environment, where he gets to trial and error his choices, but will not be harmed by his decision. Allowing him to build his own individual confidence, that I hope will help change his perspective.

I challenge society to stop being critical of people’s decisions or tearing them down. If some advice can be offered without judgment, this helps us learn.  If advice can help educate in a respectful manner, excellent.  Nothing nice to nice to say, don’t say anything. Believe it or not, that is helpful.

We have a choice. I challenge everyone to build people up, with kind words and encouragement. I challenge everyone to root for others! We can all win. Watch for chances. Let’s change the world!


11 Comments Add yours

  1. nissetje says:

    Wow, looks like some people have really taken this personally. Weird. I wouldn’t worry too much about it; most of your readers are unlikely to be so narcissistic and will likely be able to understand your intent. 🙂 I appreciate your work with Jedi and am always happy to read about what has worked and not worked for you in your journey. Other people’s judgement and misunderstanding can definitely be a real barrier to progress, both in dog training and in written communication! Have a great day and keep up the good work. Jedi is lucky to have such a committed guardian.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. colinandray says:

    Well I have just read your latest version and I disagree with your opening paragraph. Ray is a very reactive dog and people simply question why we would keep him. There have never been any criticism of us as his “parents”. Typically “non-dog” people think seem to think that any anti-social dog should be euthanized. It does not cross their mind that, like a delinquent child, behavior could well be changed. Ray’s reactivity is often caused by a stupid approach by somebody, He then reacts with typical canine intuition…. offense is the best defense.

    I could also show totally different perspectives on most of the rest of the Post, But I suspect that you would not like that so I will respectfully step back.

    I am going suggest that something has recently happened to you which is surfacing here in an emotionally charged Post. Only you know whether that is close to the truth.


    1. Ok, this is just my experience with what people have said to me. Please don’t read this with a negative undertone, that is never my intent. That is also not my thought process here. I bet you would never guess, I am a sensitive person. 😄 I don’t mind that, because it drives me to understand other people’s thought processes. Wondering why they would try to hurt me. I have grown and I have changed. I have had things said to me, that were absolute intentional jabs. They were not misconstrued. Actual words, you are causing his reactivity, followed by an explanation on how to cure it. This is mostly from dog people, without dog reactive experience. I show people often in class, how to handle their reactive dogs. It works great for every other dog. I have tried so many approaches with Jedi. We are off to a vet behaviorist in less than two weeks, because I refuse to believe his behaviors cannot be at least managed. This will cost me big bucks, but I changed and I believe in Jedi. He will most likely, however, be put on medication. I have had more than a few trainers suggest it to me. The last trainer I was with said these are behavior issues, he isn’t reading a calm dog correctly due to a PTSD state. He is stuck. His brain is sort of malfunctioning, he isn’t interpreting things in an expected manner. Yes, he learned his crazy barking and lunging gets things away from him. The last trainer suggested I leave him at home. That it is fear driven, he will have extreme difficulty associating these things mean him no harm. This is a woman with 50 + years of experience. Many trainers have said, his behavior can only be managed. Yes, Ray is a different dog than Jedi, has had different experiences. Jedi was bred for many of these behaviors he is showing to extreme levels. I use classical conditioning and desensitization, we still cannot get closer than a football field away from things that set him off. Movement, is what gets him the most excited, it escalates within seconds. So fast, before your brain can even understand what just happened. A herding dog, who wants to control EVERYTHING, is out of his brain. No one can respond that quickly, at that point I can only move him away as calmly as possible or pick him up and carry him out of there. I risk an unintentional nip to the face if I have to pick him up, but I will. He cannot learn when his brain is in that state. I have a friend who was a self admitted dumb young parent. Long, long ago his son was afraid of heights, he held his young son by his ankles on a freeway overpass, over the edge. To cure him of it, it didn’t work. He is sad he tried it. It won’t help to work with Jedi in a reactive state. I can’t get us to a place to work on it, if there are any dogs, sounds of dogs, running adults or kids, bikes or cars within this football field perimeter. My friend with her unofficially diagnosed autistic like child, taught me things her medical providers have her do (such as brushing and joint pulling). Her daughter has a type of sensory overload, these things have helped actually Jedi. Dog trainers have said similar things about Jedi, he sees and hears everything to an extreme. Again, they suggest medication. My friend cannot change how her daughters brain works, she can only try to get her to understand other productive ways to communicate. Which I believe is your point. It is up to her daughter make the connections as to what they are trying to teach her. Just an example: I do have supportive people around me. I also have had people yell things out of their home windows and to my face. Other people I have spoken to have had these same experiences, I am so very glad you have not. I am not sure why people tell me this. My blog is simply my attempt to help people understand. I can’t change Jedi’s brain and making me feel like his behavior is my fault is unproductive to me. My very hope is the vet behaviorist will have our answer, the answer might be some of your approaches. Again, I appreciate your view. Challenge makes us think. Please chime in after I try some of the things the vet behaviorist suggest that work for him are the same things that worked for you. We learn from others experiences. As long as things are a football field away (thank goodness we moved onto 5 acres ora football field, without a front boulevard), we are happy for now. My blog might sound emotionally charged, but that is not the intended tone. All of my words are respectfully spoken out of the hope that someone can learn from my perspective. Thank you!


      1. colinandray says:

        I have just published a Post which was based around this Post. While it is not intended to attack you in any way, it is intended to draw attention to flaws in composition.

        As for Ray? Yes, we consulted with a dog behaviorist. We also gained access to an impressive library of dog behavior related papers. Ray has been on “anxiety meds” from the day that we adopted him, and the dog behaviorist recommended we increase the dosage. We did! Now if we can resolve his severe separation anxiety, we think that we can possibly slowly wean him off his meds.


        1. Well, now I am not sure how to take this. I am by no means a professional writer. You may have just shut me down from feeling safe to write again. I will take this as character building and hope I can recover.


          1. colinandray says:

            Your strength is that you write from your heart. Kudos!
            Your weakness is that you are not thinking about how your choice of words could be received.
            You already have a “head start”over many other bloggers, and, like all of us, can always improve our style. Keep writing! 🙂


  3. colinandray says:

    This is one long rant, and reads as if you are attacking your readers. Was that really what you intended?


    1. Interesting, no that was not my intent at all. Thank you for productively challenging me to use more perspective on how I am coming across!! For this was exactly the intent of this post!! You offered completely constructive criticism without judging my intent! I can reread this with new eyes. I can learn from my unintended mistake. You are the answer Colin! How can we help others see this! I re-shaped my blog a bit. I want it to raise awareness, not create reactivity.


      1. colinandray says:

        Absolutely, because you make many excellent points. I would suggest that you presented them in such a manner as to turn off most readers. Clearly that was not the intention.

        Some thoughts:
        Avoid the use of “you” because the reader has every reason to take it personally.
        Avoid generalizations i.e. people are always looking for fault. No they are not! Some people are…. perhaps most people are ….. but such a generalization is offensive and inaccurate.
        Lay your issues out constructively and offer suggestions and/or observations. Your original Post preaches in very direct terms. Not good for getting attention, and therefore not good for getting your message across.


        1. There are now three occurrences of the word “you”. One could not be avoided and the other two are intended. Thanks again. Your suggestions were helpful. At least in my world, I THINK they helped. LOL! 💛


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