Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I'm having a moment...you can listen if you like.

I look back on the paragraphs I wrote (below), my attempt to share a basic knowledge of what goes on in the obedience ring and it feels as if it were written from a great distance. I barely recognize the voice. Maybe it’s because I am just giving abbreviated explanations of exercises explained at great length and with much precision elsewhere (for example: http://www.spinone.com/ObedUnderstinding.htm ) and that terminology is driving the sentences…

But there is a lingering discomfort. I am reminded that truly showing up is the greatest exercise of all. In all that explanation there is no whiff of my own skin, my own experience; it is all by rote, a memorization, a recording…and as my fingers moved over the keys, my mind leaned against a wall somewhere and yawned, examining the shape of my fingernails.

Not that it’s a bad thing. It is an unavoidable moment in a string of many moments…it’s just that as I get older I more and more want to be in the precise center of my own experience, where I bump into no walls of self consciousness or doubt, where I just AM, fluent and rooted in the ground I stand on.

And I am reminded that there is perhaps no subject more fraught with the back and forth, with anxiety and pleasure, doubt and sure footedness as there is in the world of obedience.

Why? Maybe because it is there where I am called out from the dreamy volumes of imagined experience, into the arena of action. Where my deepest commitment to my desires (to truly be WITH dogs) is tested and evaluated, both by myself, my dog and by others. It is an arena of judges and teachers, of an audience and competitors filled with often toxic judgments. At times, I have been so overwhelmed by that judgment that I have forgotten what really matters…my relationship with my dog, and I have done things to gain entrance that I would not have done otherwise.

Thankfully, most of that is in the past. My teachers have been kind and simple and direct…almost Zen like in their fluidity. I have become utterly detached from the judgements of those I do not respect. And I have grown as a trainer, an observer and a friend so much I shock myself.

But that is beside the point. Back to the original feeling.

I have a question. Is it that once the knowledge of an experience truly settles into the psyche and the body it is tedious to TaLK about it….or is it that language used for anything other than rooting out other levels of experience -–“how can I know what I think until I see what I say” --feels like a numbness?

And that the act of writing, for me, has to be both an exploration of experience and fulfill a desire to connect, to share experience. And that one with out the other hobbles.


  1. e, it's "that language used for anything other than rooting out other levels of experience -–“how can I know what I think until I see what I say” --feels like a numbness."

    I'd write more, but I gotta go walk my (not very obedient at all) dogs.



  2. You write about what is at the core of the experience of being one team with a dog, beyond the challenging but ultimately dull mechanics of the obedience ring, beyond all TaLKing about it-- I can only think your therapy work with Maudie has given you an clear insight into what matters most in the work we do with our dogs: love. Love, love, but love with a rulebook.