June 3, 2015 by Julia
After Dash’s first Pack Walk, I approached the trainers to check in with them. Dash had been very demure the entire time and I felt bad that he was so uncomfortable during the session. I wanted to know if his stress level was within bounds for the work he was doing.
As often happens, Jay Jack gave me a colorful analogy to put it all in perspective. I’m paraphrasing, but the idea was this “When you see someone lifting and they’re struggling with a heavy weight (which he illustrated by pantomiming a bench press & weight lifter grimace), you don’t feel bad for them. Sure, if the weight comes crashing down on their face, that’s a bad thing & they’ve gone too far. But if they can lift it, that’s awesome and they’re going to be stronger for it.”
And Jay was right. Dash was having a hard time but he wasn’t shutting down. We kept going to pack walks and he kept getting a little bit more comfortable. By the time we moved outside, he would actually look up at me and wiggle his nub a little. He could wait calmly at the trail head while a group of mostly new dogs gathered, even when the “closest” dog to him was struggling.
Is the work we’re doing stressful? Yes.
Is he stronger because of it? Yes.
Once again, my lessons with Dash translate to how I live my life as well. I am currently going through a divorce. It’s very amicable (seriously, we should win a prize or something) but it’s still stressful. Some days I feel the way Dash did that first night, cheerful spirit suppressed by the pressure of the challenge in front of me. But the stress is necessary. And even though it’s uncomfortable, the figurative weight is not crashing down on me.
Is even the friendliest divorce stressful? Yes.
Will I be stronger because of it? Yes.
This post is part of the quarterly DABAD under the theme "Stress" https://dogagilityblogevents.wordpress.com/stress/