Thursday, August 21, 2008

Easily Distracted

I get so mad at Scout sometimes. At our last agility class, I couldn't get her to run the course at all. As soon as I gave the signal, she just took off running, and ran around the room like a mad dog, not listening to me when I called her to come.

Of course, that's not unusual. Coming when called is not one of her best things. This particular class, though, it was embarrassing, as we had a substitute instructor. She was not impressed with my dog training skills. And that's an understatement.

One thing is, she's easily distracted. That means she's very good at coming when I call her, as long as there's not a squirrel or a butterfly or a bug, or a piece of grass that needs sniffing at the moment. We're working on the "down" command, when given from a distance, right now, and she's very good at it, as long as we are alone in the yard with nothing and no one else around.

When we go on walks, she walks very nicely beside me most of the time. But we do get into a little trouble when we see a squirrel, a gopher, a deer, or a chipmunk. Or if we hear a particularly attractive or unusual noise. Like I said, she's easily distracted.

On the other hand, she is capable of intense focus occasionally: when she is waiting for me to give the signal for dinner, when she is discovering and chewing a bone, when she is watching a dancing family of rabbits in the front yard. She has her own idea of the important things in life.

Of course, she is not the only one who is easily distracted. Is she? We all have our own ideas about what is really important: things we will focus on: dancing rabbits for my dog, facebook and fashion and footwear for me.

And perhaps I do not know it sometimes, when my Master is calling me.


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

You're so right. We do all get distracted by what we think is important, even if God has other priorities. Like the days I fuss at him: "I have to know what my next job is right now!"

This is a terrific dog parable. :-)

mompriest said...

Dog training takes a lot of diligence, reinforcment, consistency, and time. She has had how many years of being allowed to be "distracted?" and now how long has she been "training?" In otherwords, its a lot easier to begin with a puppy who has learned other behavior first. Our Roxie, whom we got when she was 8 weeks old was much easier to train, and is still much better behaved, than our Ruby whom we got when she was 16 weeks old (and virtually untrained at that time)....anyway....hang in there....she will get it! and she will eventually do what you want...but even then she will still get distracted on that one rare occasion...sigh...(ah, I mean, like we do....yup, uh huh)

FranIAm said...

Oh I love that... what we are like when God wants our attention!!!

When a baby starts crying in church, Fr. Pat is great, he makes a joke and says "Don't worry, that's what God hears when we pray."

Scout has special gifts. Training to be a perfect dog in that sense may not be one of them. It is ok.

We love Scout!

Barbara B. said...

You gotta love Scout!!!

Diane said...

yes, Mompriest, you are right. We were inexperienced dog owners who didn't know what we were doing, and we also got distracted by her possessiveness and spent most of our time trying to figure out what to do about that. We aren't the more consistent either.

We love Scout, but she'll probably be our only dog. I've concluded that we're just not good at being dog owners.

Presbyterian Gal said...

Distractions! Oy!! Do not get me started. For Christmas this year I would like coupons for distraction free hours. I dare not wish for days.

Once in awhile when the rare light of heaven shines through I'll look up and ask, "Oh, are you still here?"

Oops pardon me, the guinea pig's cage is flooded with water......don't ask.

Songbird said...

Diane, Molly is a great dog in many ways, but she is indifferent to obeying me in her "off" hours. When she sailed through the Canine Good Citizen Test flawlessly, it really took me by surprise. Be kind to yourself and keep practicing simple skills that remind Scout you are the boss.
And, yes, "the sin that distracts" is a part of my life, too. (I used Molly to illustrate "reaction to distraction" in a children's message when that text came up a few years ago.)

Lindy said...

Rowan is the same way. So am I.

DogBlogger said...

The Boy and I are the same way, too. We've had him for more than 3 years now (admittedly, we got him when he was 1, so we didn't have a great start), and still can't get a reliable down-stay out of him unless there's food involved. And much of the time I can't get a reliable down-stay out of myself unless I have a looming deadline.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Diane, instead of swearing off dogs, another option is to get a different breed next time. Scout is part Husky, right? I've heard that Siberian Huskies are some of the most independent dogs that exist because they still have more wolf-like traits than other types. So I wouldn't be too hard on yourself for having a difficult time iwth her.

There are breeds that are have more of an instinctive desire to please their masters. Also, if you get a puppy, you can ask the breeder to make sure you get a more submissive "omega" dog than a challenging "alpha" dog from that litter. Our breeder made sure to give us an omega because she knew Michael had never had a dog before.

Just a thought.

dust bunny said...

I know what you mean about....oh...did you see what the kitty did?........I know what you mean about being dis.....did I lock the door when I left school?....what you mean......gotta mop the kitchen floor......getting distracted......dang, where did I put those, must have coffee.....

yep...dogs and small children aren't the only ones easily distracted.

good post!

Anonymous said...

Such a perfect analogy! I laughed reading at the beginning. Our mutts are so perfectly trained they do whatever they please 90% of the time. They are smart, know all the words they want, and none they don't like. Loved the comment about crying babies! But I agree, I think we are often distracted when God calls. He gets a busy signal a lot I'm afraid.

Marsha said...

"And perhaps I do not know it sometimes, when my Master is calling me."

perfect observation!

it seems to fit all of us!