Teaching dogs, teaching people: getting older, getting wiser….

It’s another dog agility blog action day, which means all of us are theoretically writing on the same topic, but of course I always try to put my own spin on it. I guess we all do. Anyway, that link in the first sentence will take you off to the central page with a list of everyone’s posts and titles. Have fun, go read some other blogs about agility besides mine. Other people have a sense of humour, I’ve noticed, and I don’t, not really.

I started doing agility with Elly in the summer of 2004 when Jay was riding his bicycle across the country and I needed something to do to keep from sitting at home and sulking (I didn’t want to go, but he was going to be gone for over a month, and that adds up).

Two years later, I had learned just enough to be dangerous, and I volunteered to help teach a class for the Rainier Agility Team (to be fair, it was taught a few miles from my house, and my best attribute as a teacher was that I could get there even if it snowed). I wasn’t a bad instructor, and thankfully most of my students knew way more than I did, so that my gaps weren’t really an issue.

With time, I’ve realized how much I didn’t know then.

With time, I’ve realized that there are a lot of things I don’t know about dogs and agility. I’ve realized that there are things I do know a lot about: how to get fit (as a human), how to improve a dog’s fitness, biochemistry of mammals, biology in general. The things I do understand are important to agility, but the more I learn about agility, the more I realize that there are mastiff-sized holes in my understanding of agility.

But this I know for certain: every single dog–like every single human I taught during my ten years of teaching science in middle and high schools–has the ability to learn and grow. Some will learn more easily than others; some will need extra help; some will need a different approach; some will need serious incentives; some will learn for the sheer joy of it and surpass your knowledge in minutes. Am I talking about dogs or humans? Nope: dogs and humans.

As I’ve gotten older, as I’ve gotten more experienced in agility, as I’ve learned from my successes and my failures with Elly and Dancer and now Rush, I’ve learned that I know very little, really–and I’ve got a lot to learn.

Thankfully, I have good teachers. Poodles are very patient.