Fortunately my boss doesn't care how many hours I log to get my job done - he's just thrilled to have me back. I stopped at my account for groceries and ran into him there; he's there to facilitate an impromptu account revision. So we talked and he brought me up to speed on stuff. Originally I was told I was the sixth merchandiser out over the Mother's Day weekend and subsequent reset week... not actually the case - there were ten people out! Representing roughly 20% of the territory workforce and on one of the busiest weekends/weeks of the year. The amazing part is how the remaining employees pulled together to get the job done and done well. I have to say my four stores looked really good when I returned - and I made sure he knew it.
About agility. Last night was the first class together in about a month. Gimme was ecstatic to have her mommy back to play with. Unfortunately she was excited and more than a little bit wild. I worked with her to get her focus while we waited our turn and I thought we were ready. However when we headed into the arena for our turn, she lost her head and bolted through the door hitting the end of the leash full force. Fortunately I was holding it with my good hand, but it wasn't enough to keep me from slamming my other wrist (the bony part) against the door frame. I have a lovely yellow and purple bruise there now.
It was very painful and I admit it, I yelled at Gimme about it - telling her to get control of herself and knock off the BS. Despite being a devoted positive-reward trainer, there are some provocations which will push me over the edge and pain is one of them. I looked up to see William taping my outburst, which of course made me mindful of what I was doing.
I heard my instructor comment, saying it didn't seem to bother Gimme, but she was wrong. Gimme was definitely affected by yelling mommy; certainly she wasn't cowed, but she avoided reconnecting to play on the course with me. When she did, she did a really nice job and I was very happy with her efforts. The next time I came in, I was much more cafeful to take my time and work our Control Unleashed skills in the doorway too. And while Gimme still ran amuck a bit, I switched to Give Me A Break game and she came back to work with me. It seemed the second time around she reconnected faster - the proof will be on the tapes when I get them next week.
I could beat myself up about my outburst and, in fact, I do feel badly about it. But I also know I am only human and going to make mistakes. Our relationship is outstanding and I know Gimme forgives me my occasional failings, just as I forgive hers. One of the benefits of having a close and loving relationship is, there is grace to get you past the rough spots.
I've just finished reading Bones Would Rain From The Sky, by Suzanne Clothier. Its been a fascinating read and I'm going to start it over. I kept thinking as I'd read, I want to write about this - it inspired so many things I want to share. Toward the end, Suzanne admits her own failings, the times when she diverted from the positive-reward path or lost patience with her sizable animal tribe. So, I guess you could say I'm in good company when I lose patience...
In chapter two she wrote:
"Each relationship with an animal and a human is a bridge uniquely shaped to carry only those two, and so must be crafted by them. Though the work of a lifetime, the building and repairs are done slowly, in the heart's time, one beat after another.
"Everything... has... to be guided by this one elemental point: Does this help or harm the relationship?"Its not the failures which determine our path, rather what we do about them. Do we justify it? I was hurting and it was Gimme's fault. Or do we examine the instance, find what set us awry, and determine to do better in the future? I can help Gimme do better. I hope I always do the latter.