Trying to bring connection and humanity back into my work, I have had to really slow down and watch what owners are feeling, through their actions, language, and movements. I see their confidence wither away holding the leash of a 20lb dog. I feel their agitation at commands being ignored. I experience their frustration, surprise and struggle, right along beside them. But there often comes a moment when it clicks for the handler. A slight moment in time, that you'll miss if you're not looking. Suddenly their gate becomes swifter, their eyes shine a little brighter, and a smile soothes the tight lines that once created a furrowed brow. They begin to become in tune with their dog, understand their body language. And understand themselves a little better.
This is the moment I feel that we all long for not only as owners, but as human beings as well. To feel connected, at ease, and just generally comfortable. Comfortable with the world around us, our relationships, and ourselves.
For every handler/canine pair, it can be very different what each seeks out of the relationship with their dogs. But one thing remains the same; they all seek connection. A bond. And an understanding. And I believe we can all achieve it, if we are patient enough and dedicated.
So where does it begin? For me, it began with love and forgiveness. Mostly forgiveness of myself, for the mistakes I have made and the ones I am sure to make again. Then, by loving myself and my animals enough to begin again. Maybe try a new way, or quietly sitting together today instead of pushing too far. Just existing together, and realizing that how I am, will affect how they are. And then to start honouring that connection, within myself and outward.