Sunday, September 27, 2009


Who are the teachers that you remember the most? It usually is the teacher that you did not like, the one who was tough on you, but the one you learned the most from. I remember a sixth grade teacher I had, Ms. Scanlon or something like that. She was the mean one, the one you didn't want to have for math. Who did I end up with, Ms. Scanlon. Was she mean, no, she was firm. She was hard on her students in that she expected them to work hard but she was always willing to help, AND she got results. That's right, her students learned. Now as an adult I look back and thank her for that. She made me learn.

So what is the role of teacher, mentor, trainer?

I have learned from past teachers and trainers that it is okay to push outside your comfort zone. In fact you have to if you want results. That is the only way you will learn and stretch yourself. It happened in school and it worked. It happened when I played tennis and it worked. I would be dead tired but coach made me serve 1o more times and get them in. Or have three more great volleys. Or keep hitting until I nailed the backhand one more time. Then I could quit.

When I wanted to be the #1 singles player my sophmore year I knew I had to be better then the other players. To do that I knew I had to practice more, and be in better shape and so I did. I rode my bike to each practice, I played twice everyday or just about, even if it was practicing serves in the driveway. I ran in the mornings to build stamina to outlast the other players in long multiple sets. I did sprints to be able to get to the ball fast, I jumped rope so that I would have quick footwork. In the end I was the #1 singles player. My hard work paid off.

When I trained for marathons I trained on my own with books and training guides to help, but it was me who made me get up, put my shoes on and get out the door. I knew I had to push myself just like with tennis. When I was tired and wanted to quit I went one more mile. When I didn't feel like running I would tell myself to go at least one mile and see how I felt. Before I knew it I would be on mile 5. I learned that the days I really didn't want to run were the days that I usually had my best runs - still works like that.

Now I am herding with my dog and I expect my trainer to push me. She has great knowledge of the craft and has a history of working with border collies with many tempermants, through all sorts of problems. But the bottom line is I know I need to push past my comfort zone to improve, but sometimes when I think I've done enough, I won't always recognize that I need to push farther but I expect that she will, and she will tell me. She will also tell me when it is time to stop. When I have pushed enough because this isn't just me this time there are other creatures involved.

Working with my dog in a partnership is new to me. This time it isn't just me and a sport. It is me, my dog and the stock - a much more complicated scenario. There will be days when I want to push on, but Reese is not ready to go that far, there will be days when Reese wants to continue but I want to stop. But I know that my trainer will help me see when it is acceptable to stop and when I need to push myself or Reese.

I trust her to know what we should do - after all that is why I am working with her - to learn. Will there be days when I think she is wrong, probably, will there be days when I don't understand why I should do this or that, yes. Will there be days when I get mad - most likely.

Those are the days when I will learn the most, and those are the days that will make me a better handler and Reese and I a better team!

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