Transformation | Dancing Hearts Cognitive Dog Training

Tag Archive for: Transformation

One Dog’s Transformation from Trash to Treasure

September 11, 2017

 

When I adopted Maya, she had been labeled as ‘untrainable’ by her 3 previous homes, and was ready to be put down because of it.

You may know my sweet and sassy Maya…or you may know of her story.

She is quite a gal, with a jaded history. 😉

She was kicked out of 3 homes, and stood on death’s door because of her impossible behavior. She was labeled ‘untrainable’, and I was her last chance.

She chased anything that moved including kids, bikes, cows, horses…anything and everything! There was not a fence or gate that could stop her.

That was before she was 6 months old. Yep. She is quite a character.

We got off to a very rough start … and I began to question my sanity for taking her in. So, I did the one thing I was sure would be our path to partnership:

I spent our first 6 months working with her, creating partnership, developing self control and life skills … you know … The Foundation Formula stuff.

THEN, and only then, I started her sheepdog training. It was so worth the wait.

I took a chance on her, and I’m so glad I did.

She went from other’s Trash to my Treasure … and it turned out that she was a world-class sheep herding trial champion! Who knew?

I was religious about following my ONE RULE…and it payed off!

Watch the video to learn how I set her up for success and transformation:

 

 

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The Joy and Struggle of Life with Dogs

February 14, 2017

Joy and Struggle

There’s the joy, the fun, the adventure…the stuff we love, and the very reasons we are so devoted to our dogs in the first place!

And then there is the struggle. The challenges:

  • Our dog seems to be defiant, and we feel frustrated.
  • Our dog is a ‘problem child’ and we are exhausted, trying to ‘fix’ our dog.
  • Maybe our dog is anxious, stressed, reactive, fearful…and we feel overwhelmed with worry and concern.
  • Sometimes we are embarrassed with the way our dog behaves.
  • Or we don’t understand why our dog who does great in practice is distracted or won’t listen at competitions.

You can you relate, right?

I’ve certainly had all of these experiences at one time or another with my dogs over the years. It’s made me a better person, that’s for sure.

More than once, I have said to myself as I look up into the sky in a moment of impatience, “do I Really need to work on growing my character Again? Really?”

Ah, yes, such is life.

Well, if you are anything like me, (and I know you are) you’d like to minimize those big challenges that force us into a new and better version of ourselves…and instead, plan for the growth, so the ‘new and more brilliant us’ blossoms in a less painful way.

That’s where the whole Partnership thing comes in…and where Cognitive Dog Training started, and the Foundation Formula too.

I wrote this on a page on my website:

At the heart of it is … the process of acquiring profound understanding and knowledge about our dogs, about ourselves and how we interact and respond to one another.

I just read it again, and I still love it…the significance of it. I love the ‘profound understanding’ part. It’s part of the foundation that is so important for building a trusting partnership with our dogs. Seeking this deep understanding has influenced how I train and compete with my dogs over the years.

Luc at the WWSDA 2012 Labor Day Trial

I’m thinking of Luc as one good example.

When I started his sheepdog (herding) training, he presented me with a challenge that I had not come across. He was clearly talented, and we had a solid foundation, a budding partnership. At a year old, I enjoyed working and training with my little man.

He was willing to take my direction, to listen, to please me. The challenge came with finding balance when he got closer to two.

When his instinct (which had perfect pitch) argued with my instruction, he believed he had to choose. He had to disregard his instinct and do what I said. Or, he had to disregard what I said and follow his instinct.

Wow, that was quite a difficult place for such a young dog to be in, right?

So, my challenge was to figure out a way to keep the communication flowing between us. I had to figure out how to allow my instructions to be taken as ‘clear guidelines’ but not as ‘must do commands’. I had to develop our partnership and communication, without taking away his initiative to follow his good instincts.

It was hit and miss for a while as we worked it out. Sometimes we nailed it. Other times, he was looking at me instead of the sheep … sometimes he was ignoring me, focusing only on the sheep.

Sometimes I was filled with joy with our progress. Sometimes I was frustrated at our imbalanced partnership.

The thing that got us through this new and challenging period was our foundation. Our trust for one another. Our partnership. It just kept growing, getting better and better.

Ultimately, our partnership became brilliant! One exciting example of that: We were Finalists at the USBCHA Nationals.  Luc and I worked our way to the championship final round, the famous double lift. It was quite an experience and I am both humbled and proud of our accomplishment as partners.

Take my little story about Luc, and imagine yourself and your dog in our place, in any context at all. The same struggle story applies to life skills, agility, rally, anything that you do with your dog:

Just imagine this struggle between your dog’s natural instincts and desire to please you and do what’s right.

Now imagine the successful outcome you dream of…

Here’s what I imagine you want to ask me:

Q: OK, I want that too! How can I get this kind of partnership with my dog?

A: Through the 5 step foundation formula that I have been teaching. Step-by-step. You’ve heard me talk about baby steps a lot. It’s the only way to go.

Partnership is really all about ever-increasing levels of good communication. Getting deeper into understanding. Deeper into what I call the ‘dialog loop’…an active exchange of thoughts, feelings, words, expressions, actions between me and my dog that informs my next move, my next choice of how to go on with the lesson my dog and I are learning together.

This is the “Partnership” that I tell you about. An interactive, collaborative relationship with our dogs that transforms struggles into joyful possibilities.

Follow these 5 Steps to work your way toward partnership with your dog:

  1. Start with an intention to actively communicate with your dog. To dialog. To truly listen with all of your senses, all of your being, to what your dog is telling you.
  2. Strive for clarity as you interact with your dog. Get really clear about what you want, and about how your dog needs you to teach this skill.
  3. Be a loving leader in the dance of your life together. The dance requires you and your dog to be competent at being attentive and responsive to one another.
  4. Foster a deeper, heart-to-heart holistic connection with your dog. This means that you become as balanced mentally, emotionally and physically as your dog.
  5. Develop a foundation of collaboration with your dog that becomes your cornerstone for easily transforming any struggle that crops up into brilliant possibility for success.

 

 
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Want more “Happy” for You and Your Dog?

January 2, 2017

Amazing!! It’s already 2017 … where did 2016 go? Really? It must be true that the older one gets, the faster time passes. And, there is current science that suggests that time IS actually going faster!

One exciting aspect of this ‘fast moving time’ is that we can see the results of our plans and actions quicker than ever before. That, coupled with the ending of one year and the fresh beginning of a new one just around the corner, means there is no better time than now to set you and your dog up for success in the new year!

So, let me ask you:

Do you want more “Happy” in your life?  (who doesn’t)

Do you want to enjoy each day a little more?  (duh, right?)

Do you want 2017 to be the best year ever for you and your dogs? (doesn’t that sound awesome?)

I have two simple, easy things you can do right now to get that rolling for you. Everyone can do this, it takes very little time, AND your dog will remind you constantly!

Ready?

Tip #1:

When you LOVE what you already have in your life, you’ll get more of the same.

It all starts with natural laws of our world:  we will attract into our experience what we are in vibrational resonance with. Simply put, everything is energy — you, your dog, your emotions, your thoughts — yep, all energy. That’s because everything is made of molecules, which are made of atoms, which are made of subatomic particles…which are pure energy.

Energy, by nature, resonates with and attracts back to it things of the same resonance, or frequency…just like a tuning fork brings a particular piano string into resonance. You’ve likely heard the expression “like attracts like”, that’s resonance. So, if your thoughts or emotions are centered around fear, anxiety, or lack (of anything)…you literally draw those things to you like a magnet.

Don’t want that now, do we?

One great way to turn that energy around, and attract more useful things to you is to feel, acknowledge and express gratitude. Expression of Heartfelt Gratitude is one of, if not “the” most powerful ways to change your life. Teaching myself to practice gratitude every single day is one of the best things I have ever done…for me and for my dogs!

And, when I think about it, I learned this lesson from my dogs. When they’re happy about something, they show it!  And, furthermore, they spend their time anticipating what great stuff is about to happen (cookies, walk, ball, play, dinner, massage) instead of lamenting about what great stuff they wish they had.

So, in it’s simplest form, all you have to do is be happy and grateful for all the great stuff you have in your life, and anticipate all the great stuff that is going to happen soon.

Pretty cool, right?

It’s pretty easy once you get started…the great feelings that flow when you practice gratitude automatically generate more great feelings that attract more things to be grateful for! Start today. Start with your dogs.

Kathy Kawalec and her border collie Luc share a loving momentFor example, TODAY:

I’m grateful that I get to nurture a partnership with my beautiful border collies.

I’m grateful that I can spend time outdoors with my dogs.

I’m grateful that my dogs are healthy and sound.

I’m grateful that if needed, I can take my dog to the vet for care.

I’m grateful that I am healthy and sound enough to work my dogs.

Im grateful that I can make the time to work my dogs.

I’m grateful that I have warm clothes and boots and rain gear that keep me comfortable when I’m outdoors with my dogs.

I’m grateful for the feel of my dogs soft hair and warm skin under my hand as I stroke their heads.

I’m grateful that my dogs and I have F-U-N when we work and play together.

I’m grateful for the honor and privilege of having such a relationship with my dog…whether we win, lose, get eliminated or have to scratch…I am grateful.

 

 Tip #2:

Get Ready for all the great stuff that you are anticipating!

So, how do you “Get Ready”?

The simplest way to get ready for all that great stuff you’re anticipating is to plan for it. Planning is all about getting your ducks in a row so you are ready when your great stuff shows up.

Planning helps you to get clear on what you want so that you’ll recognize it when it comes. And planning helps you to get ready in baby steps, so you don’t have to rush around like crazy when you realize that you’re not ready. Makes sense, right?

Planning also helps you to get organized with your training sessions and allows you to develop a finely tuned sense of where you are and where you want to go. You will become attuned to your dog each and every time you work/play together and that allows your dog to give you great feedback about your training and handling.

Here’s a simple way to start:

Begin to ask yourself useful questions before and after each session…and before and after each phase of planning. Questions like “What skills do I (or my dog) need to rehearse in order to become competent at the desired level?” “What do I need to change or improve in order to create the results I want?”

After each training session, ask yourself: “Are we better now than before the session?” If your answer is “no”, change what didn’t work and try again. If the answer is “I’m not sure”, go back and repeat the same to become sure. If the answer is “yes” and if your answer is usually “yes” then you are not challenging you and your dog enough. Those words of wisdom are passed down from trainer Bob Bailey. Wise indeed! We can’t get better if we don’t challenge ourselves, right?

To take this one step further, begin to Create Your Plan for 2017.

Start with taking inventory of the skills and the level of partnership you already have with your dog in each area. Then visualize and determine where you want to be…one area at a time. Be quite detailed. See and most importantly FEEL, what it’s like to accomplish your goals. Take in every detail and write them down.

Kathy and Sue Meeker 2012 closeNext, create a plan of action, step-by-step that will get you to your goals. You can do that by the training session, by the week, or the month. Be detailed enough that your road map will guide you well along the way, without bogging you down in too many details. Your details will come into play before and after each session. If you’re not sure, get help from your coach or instructor.

Record your training sessions…in a journal or logbook. Write notes for each session and for each competition: What went well…what are you happy with? Be specific. Record the relevant environmental details of the session too. Then, what would you like to change or revise for next time? What would you like to improve? What is your plan for making those changes?

It’s important to focus on a positive outcome and remember it’s so much easier to teach a dog to “DO” rather than “DON’T”. For example, “DO keep a good shape to your flank” is easier to teach than “Don’t cut in on your flank”.

It’s so important is to nurture a positive mental attitude and engage in self-talk that helps you reach your goals.

Always speak to yourself in the present tense as if you already have the quality you want. “I am calm and confident.” Use positive phrases, (avoiding the words ‘not, won’t, can’t, should’)…such as “I am relaxed” vs “I am not tense”…or “I am focused” vs “I will not be distracted.”

Review your plan every month or quarter, compare it to your training journal, ask yourself those useful questions…make adjustments and move forward. Have fun, be happy every day, and remember tip #1.  😉

And…I’ll leave you with these thoughts to ponder …

“If you always do what you’ve always done you will always get what you always got.”

“How am I going to live today to create the tomorrow I am committed to?”

BONUS TIP:

Join us for the 2017 Creative Alchemy Passion Plan program…you’ll be so happy you did!!

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How Gratitude Can Accelerate Your Dog Training Goals

December 30, 2016

 

Gratitude accelerate your goals

Gratitude and Goals in Harmony …

While it seems that being grateful for who we are and what we have right now is contradictory to the idea of setting goals for a better life experience … they can indeed coexist. I believe that practicing gratitude is a simple way to accelerate the process of reaching our heartfelt goals and dreams.

Being grateful for what you are and have right now doesn’t mean you don’t want to grow and create change in your life. If you’re like me, you love to create change, learn new things and make life more brilliant for yourself and your loved-ones.

Accomplishing your goals is even more possible when you start with a foundation of gratitude. Instead of feeling frustrated, you’ll feel happy about where you are … while eagerly anticipating your adventure ahead.

Being grateful for all you have now sets the stage for realizing your goals in the future.

When we feel and express gratitude for what we have in our life, we are automatically attracting more of what we love.

Goals give us purpose and keep us focused on what’s truly important to us. Goals bring us to greater clarity about what we want … and they keep us inspired to keep taking those baby steps toward our ‘prize’ every day.

Whether you have a goal for attaining something special with your dog … or for a non-dog something that you feel inspired to bring into your life … a gratitude journal will keep us moving in the right direction.


Goal Acceleration Tips:

When you are working toward a training or trialing/showing goal with your dog, (or any goal really),  you can use your gratitude journaling to speed up your results.

Here’s how:

  1. Include 1 or 2 Goal Gratefuls in your daily practice. When we are working toward a goal that challenges us (as good goals do), we often get caught up in a cycle of ‘it’s not happening yet’ or we question ‘when is it ever going to happen?’ or ‘will it ever happen?’ and we forget to celebrate the little wins.When we can include 1 or 2 of those little baby steps we take that keep moving us toward our goal … the more we focus on the things that went right … the more we are accelerated. This practice is so reinforcing to us, and it keeps us inspired and motivated to carry on through the struggles we will likely encounter along the way.
  2. Include 1 or 2 Future Gratefuls in your daily practice. When you can include feeling grateful for what is about to come … surrounding future events with an air of expectation, like it’s already done … you will be adding that positive energy to the mix, and that will accelerate your journey even more!What you’ll want to do is to use your imagination to pretend that your goal/dream has already happened … that you are living it right now. Paint a full and vibrant picture of living your dream. Allow yourself to experience the feeling you will have living your dream.Now, simply find one or two things that you are grateful for inside of your imagined life. There you have it – goals on steroids!!  🙂

Some Examples of Gratitude Journal Entries:

Goal Grateful:
“Wow! Max actually looked at me for ‘what’s next?’ today! First time in class he offered that! I am so grateful that our partnership is finally getting there!”

Future Gratefuls:
“I am so grateful knowing that next week’s trial will be fun and we get to practice and learn together in a new place.”

“I love that by this time next year, we are going to be an amazing team, really brilliant together! My heart swells with joy and gratitude for all we will experience together.”

 

Comment below and tell me:

What is the #1 Goal/Dream that you would love to accelerate?

Ever grateful,
Kathy xo

 

 

How to Use Gratitude to Accelerate Your Goals and Have a Better Relationship with Your Dog

December 28, 2016

 

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This time of year gets me reflecting on how grateful I am for the many blessings in my life, especially the amazing people in my life, including you.

I’ve been busy thinking up ideas for expressing my gratitude to you…and the first thing that comes to mind is to share with you the power of intentional gratitude.

It’s a practice that I’ve used for about 20 years, and it’s how I start every single day!

People who are grateful tend to be happier, healthier and more fulfilled.

Being grateful can help people cope with stress and can even have a beneficial effect on heart rate. 

From ancient scriptures to the latest science, gratitude is known to be good for us and those around us. Yet it isn’t always our automatic response and we often take the good things in our lives for granted. So we have to consciously learn to get into the habit of being grateful.

Science is showing that gratitude is important for how good we feel psychologically and socially.  And contrary to what we may think, it also appears that it could increase our ability to achieve our goals.

Why does it work? We have a natural focus on what goes wrong in our daily lives often going over and over these things in our head.

We are quick to notice even the smallest of problems, yet we rarely spend any time at all dwelling on the good things. Things that brought us a quick smile or felt good are all to often forgotten or perhaps not even noticed in the first place.

Arianna Huffington writes in her book Thrive, about how gratitude exercises can have tangible benefits. She writes, “According to a study by researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Florida, having participants write down a list of positive events at the close of a day — and why the events made them happy — lowered their self-reported stress levels and gave them a greater sense of calm at night.”

Arianna also writes, “Gratitude works its magic by serving as an antidote to negative emotions. It’s like white blood cells for the soul, protecting us from cynicism, entitlement, anger, and resignation.”

Taking the time to notice and record our gratitude is simple but incredibly powerful.

Of course, this will have a positive effect on our entire life, but when we add this to our life with dogs including our dog training, showing and trialing … amazing shifts will begin to happen, and our results are accelerated!

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Choose your timing.  For example, you might like to reflect each day before you go to bed, or perhaps once per week, on Sunday evenings. The important thing is that you make it a ROUTINE.
    Personally, I do this every morning while I am walking my dogs.
  2. Reflect. Think back over your day or your week and remember 3 to 5 good things in your life – things that went well, that you enjoyed or were grateful for. These can be small (like you smiling at your dog rolling in the grass) or of bigger importance for you (like you remembered to use ‘inviting’ body language and to smile when you called your dog to you). Dig for new things each time!!
  3. Write them  in your journal this is important. You may want to get a small notebook or journal…or even an app if you prefer electronic journaling.
  4. Contemplate why. For each thing you’re grateful for, write down why you feel good about it. Take your time with this part, really feel the feeling of gratitude for these small pleasures in your life.
  5. Look back. After a week or a month … or whenever you need a ‘boost’ after a rough day or a tough time, have a look back on what you’ve written. Your gratitude has no expiration date! You can look back months or years later, and as you read, you heart will swell once again with positive feelings and appreciation.

gratitude-piglet-quote

Great things about Gratitude…

It feels amazing when we take the time to ‘count our blessings’ and get in touch with all we have to be grateful for in our lives. That feeling easily trumps all those others like worry, stress, anger and frustration…pushes them right out of the way!

When we feel and express gratitude for what we have in our life, we are automatically attracting more of what we love. We don’t have to ‘do’ anything. Just remember to get in touch with a genuine, heartfelt feeling of gratitude every day. Then be ready to receive!!

We are paying it forward. When we feel gratitude we are emitting the vibe of love and gratitude automatically. Everyone we connect with, in person or heart-to-heart at any distance, is getting the benefit of our feeling. I like to say that we are “infecting others with our love and gratitude”. And that includes our dogs!

 
Comment below and tell me one reason you are grateful for your life with dogs. 

Ever grateful,
Kathy xo

 

 

A Simple Formula to Create A Life You Really Love (without making any icky resolutions)

December 16, 2014

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Ever heard that voice inside that tells you you’re not living the life you really want, or having the success you work so hard for?

Yes? We all do! It’s a natural part of being human … to want to be better … to want to have more.

Well: whatever you do, don’t get sucked into the media hyped, failure-ensuring, confidence-robbing bandwagon of making a New Year Resolution!

What to do instead? I have a Formula for you. It works, it’s simple, and it’s a great way to get in touch with what really matters to you:

It all starts when you Follow Your Heart…

Alchemy Formula graphic

 

My Creative Alchemy Formula

[Dream + Plan + Action + Belief + Connection]

= OMG!! I’m Happy!

 

 

The truth is that without taking ACTION, your dreams and goals are just wishes, hopes and ‘pies in the sky’ that never happen for you …Yet:

It is incredibly hard to stay motivated unless you follow this simple formula that puts your dreams on ‘autopilot’.

1The first part of the formula is a “must do” if you are to have any chance of reaching your dreams and goals… and without it you are destined to fail:

It’s all about Following Your Heart … and it starts with getting in touch authentic, heart-felt dreams to be who you are truly meant to be…

Your best year ever starts with DREAMING BIG … getting in touch with what is really important to you, not just what you think you should set as goals…
And:

You need to know WHY you want this and how getting this will make you feel … it’s not really about the goal … it’s about how you want to feel when you get there…

Your true and deep emotions are the most meaningful roadmap to live from your heart … this authentic YOU, and your real feelings are the strongest, most inspiring motivators possible,
And:

When you follow Your Heart’s True Desires … staying motivated is sooooo easy!

2The next Tip is to do just enough PLANNING so that you know what to do next!

When you are an intentional creator of your life, you’ll naturally want to ask yourself “how might I get from here to there?”
And then…

 

3You take a tiny, baby step today and every day that builds momentum and keeps you moving consistently toward your dreams … taking consistent ACTION is key to living the life you love.
My favorite mantra is:

“Dream Big. Start Small. Keep Going.”

 

4The next step is so vital … you must:

BELIEVE YOU CAN!

That means you need to retrain your brain and recondition your mind to join up with your heart, working in harmony to make your dreams come to life…

We are hard wired to follow patterns and habits…that’s our comfort zone, so unless you:

create NEW habits and patterns that are aligned with your new vision of your life, nothing will change…
It’s easy, once you know how! And that’s what the last tip is about:

5When you STAY CONNECTED to your DREAMS, and to the way you truly want to experience your life …
Magic begins to happen, and your dreams come to life!

A dream or a vision is a curious thing. It starts out so foggy, not real. Then day dreaming sets in…you know: imagining the “what if”. Imagination is a powerful tool for creation. Unbelievably powerful.

Our conscious mind is limited to what it already knows to be true.

Our imagination, on the other hand…wow! There is NO LIMIT. Anything is possible. And that’s where it all starts: playing in the canvas we call imagination. If we spend enough time in the vision phase, the fog begins to lift, and details become more and more clear. In the world of our imagination, we can conjure up so much detail that it feels real.

That’s the process successful athletes use before their competitions. The brain doesn’t recognize the difference between ‘real’ and ‘imagined’ experiences. That means that if we can visualize our ‘perfect run’ with so much detail and depth that we feel the success, we have rehearsed that winning run (or anything else) and our body/mind now has an experience it knows to be true and can effectively execute. Wow, right?

Don’t get me wrong…you still have to do the work. Plan, prepare, train, condition, rehearse. All of it. But…even the best prepared don’t often win. They say that 95% of the winning is achieved by 5% of those attempting. I believe that those top 5% are most likely to use elements that others do not: visioning, a positive attitude, commitment to their dream, and the belief that it’s possible! They can see, feel, smell and taste it. They Believe it.

My favorite Creative Alchemy story.

This story starts quite a ways back. 2007 to be precise.

My wonderful dog Russell had already transformed my life. And young Phoenix brought me challenges that made me a better person. I was dreaming about merging these two amazing dogs, drawn to create a new generation formed from their great genetics. It would be my first border collie breeding. Exciting and a little scary.

I was torn between now or later, thinking of traveling to the spring trials with a litter, and knowing the time was getting close to separate them if I chose not to go ahead with the breeding. I had included this litter in my dream plan for the year, but wasn’t certain of the timing. As it turned out, “now” was the perfect time and in April a beautiful litter was born. OMG!!!

Phoenix was a perfect mom in all ways. And I was in love with each of the 4 puppies that blessed our life.

Luc, at one day old, wormed his way over to my hand, and declared my heart his. I was in love. He was the chosen one.

As the time grew closer to sending the puppies to their new homes, I realized that I could not part with Sue, and she became a permanent part of our family too.

But today’s story is about Luc.

Kathy Kawalec's Luc at 5 weeks.The seed of a dream was planted on that first day Luc squirmed over to my hand. Could he be the one that would follow in his sire’s great footsteps? Would he be the one that I could create an amazing working partnership with? Is is possible that he would make it to the National Finals one day?

He did indeed make it to the National Finals, in 2009, Klamath Falls, Oregon. He and Sue ran in the Nursery Finals, as their dad, Russell, competed in his last Open Finals, at 12.5 years old. It was the most amazing experience. A dream come true. I could barely believe it, and I think I had to pinch myself several times! OMG!!

Then we got to work getting Luc the necessary experience and training to be competitive in the Open. He has matured more and more each year, we worked through a few struggles and communication gaps, and we have become beautiful partners.

In 2013, I had some big dreams and goals.

Luc shows great style and athleticismOne of my goals was to have a really good run with Luc at Meeker. And we did!!  He was awesome, and handler error kept us from advancing into the finals by 4 points. Even with that, Dream realized, goal achieved. Wow and OMG!!

Another goal, and it was a B-I-G goal, one that I knew would stretch us in many ways, was to make it into the final round at the USBCHA National Sheepdog Finals in Virginia.

The first part was to get there, and we need to earn enough qualifying points during the season. That is a dream and a goal all by itself, and quite challenging cause I don’t get to many trials. I am so happy to say that we had a good trial season, and qualified to compete alongside 150 amazing teams at the Finals. That was another dream come true! OMG!!

The next part of my dream was going to be the hardest thing ever. We had to lay down an amazing run in the preliminaries, and another even better run in the more difficult semi-final round. I think I can summarize our semi-final run by relaying this message that I heard at least a dozen times from established masters that day: “you and Luc had an amazing run, it was nearly perfect and so beautiful to watch. I can’t even imagine how the judges found any points to take off your run, it was that good.”

Kathy Kawalec and her dog Luc wait for their run at the finals.It FELT incredible. It was simply amazing to experience that with my good dog Luc. We made it into the Final round. OMG!!

We drew up first on Sunday. Wow. That was not what I was envisioning. I had hoped to watch a couple of runs. We stood near the gate to the field in the rain as the day dawned dark and dreary, waiting to be called in to the post.

Finally, the sheep were brought out to their spot by the setout crew: a man, his horse and his dog. They were barely visible in the dark and rain. I sent Luc to the right and he cast out perfectly, and disappeared behind the hill on his way to gather the first set of sheep.

After a few minutes, the sheep began to move, then lift down the field, and finally I could see Luc expertly guiding his 10 sheep down the fetch line. He was confident and willing to take my whistles as he brought them through the fetch gates.

Now for the hard part, he had to leave this first set of sheep and turn back for another set that he couldn’t see. Deep breath. I told him to “Loooook”, and he smartly turned back for the second set of sheep hiding in the dark and rain.

Then, just a quickly, he turned right back onto the first set that instantly began running toward the exhaust pen as soon as they felt released. Luc worked hard and persistently all week to ensure the determined sheep did not do such a thing. He was not about to let it happen now!

Another deep breath. And several more, as Luc and I communicated about what needed to happen next. I didn’t want my dream to end here.  Finally, finally, he committed to going out to look for another set of sheep. When he cast out, the crowd cheered and I did a happy dance. OMG!!

My awesome partner brought the second set down, regathered the first set and drove his 20 charges around the course like an expert. The sheep came into the shedding ring with Luc at the rear. I flanked him around to the pressure, and stopped him there. Our eyes met in that moment, as I told him silently how much I loved him and how proud of him I was. It was the most exhilarating experience. OMG!!

Kathy Kawalec and Luc shed at the Finals

I began my work of sorting off 15 uncollared ewes, calmly and quietly. Satisfied. We timed out working the shed, and we both left the field with our feet barely touching the ground. Cloud 9. That’s where we hung out for quite some time. As a matter of fact, just recounting this story puts me right back on that cloud. OMG!!

I could go on and on (believe me!) with all the amazing things that happened…but let me finish with just one more: there is a ‘dream’ card in my Alchemy Box for ‘better partnership’ with my dogs this year, every year.

I Dream of being the best possible partner, teacher, student with and for my dogs. And getting better and better every year.

My “New Year” dreams will include some pretty amazing goals for all of us, I have no doubt.

Would you love me to help you create YOUR best year ever?

For the last 14 years, I’ve been leading a “Create Your Best Year Ever” class…sharing the things I’ve learned over the years for creating the life I love. There is a simple formula, but it’s not always easy to execute. Life happens, if you know what I mean.

That’s where the class comes in…we form a great community of folks who love dogs, animals, nature. And who want to make a better life for themselves, and for their dogs and their families. They want to be happy, they have dreams ready to come alive…just like you and me. It’s an awesome group every year, and many have joined our group every year since the beginning!

The class happens online, so you can attend from anywhere…in your jammies!

Create Your Best Year Ever

 

I’ve put together a great program that will support you ALL YEAR, with a really, really special price as my ‘Thank You’ to our community. I want to make it easy for everyone to come. Click here to get the details.

So…here’s the thing. I believe in you. I believe that you CAN unleash your dreams … that you can have your best year ever…just like the hundreds of women who have joined us over the years.

Let’s do this, together!

Happy dreaming!
Kathy

 

Do You Say This to Your Dog?

January 8, 2014

Kathy Kawalec blogs about relationship with her dogs

I’m pretty sure that when I say that I can relate the child raising struggles my young niece has to the struggles I have with my dogs, that she politely waits until my back is turned and then rolls her eyes.

Dog rearing and child raising have similaritiesBut, it’s true. I can’t help but see the parallels between child raising and dog rearing, it happens a lot. I guess I’m obsessive about the relationships we have with our dogs and finding better ways to communicate, teach, and influence choices.

In case you’re wondering: yes, when I take those online quizzes, I always come out as a border collie. Obsessive and passionate about their work. That’s me…lol.

Back to my point. I recently read an article about what makes a great ‘sports parent’. Author Rachel Macy Stafford talked about one particular sentence that inspired her to change what she says to her kids as she drives them around to different activities, determined NOT to be one of those ‘nightmare sports parents’ mentioned in the article she read.

“I love to watch you play” are the 6 words that opened the door to a new relationship with her children.

So, as I do my usual ‘relationship relating’… I began to contemplate the words and the feeling behind the words that I say to my dogs. Do I use a similar phrase myself?

I’m not talking about words of encouragement, guidance or cheerleading. We all do that, right?

No, this is something different.

samface1I remember this morning, my dogs eager faces are looking expectantly up at me. My throat tightens and I catch my breath, my eyes tear just a little. I feel so awed by their rapt attention. Not because they are ‘trained’ to ‘watch’ me (they’re not) but because they freely offer their willingness to ‘be’ with me.

I think: “I am awed and I so love your beautiful eyes connecting deeply with mine”, allowing that feeling to expand out from my heart. And then I see their eyes soften just a bit, an appreciation of my appreciation.

I imagine they are thinking:

There’s no pressure here. She just loves to be here with us. That is all.

Luc shows great style and athleticism

My dog runs out on a beautiful cast to gather the sheep to me, sent by a ‘shhhhhh’ only my dog can hear. I am awed by the determined purpose and by the graceful athleticism of my dog as he runs.

I think: “I love to watch you run.”

The sheep quietly arrive at my feet as my dog pauses, waiting to hear what I need next. I softly move away from the sheep as I call my dog to my side. “That’ll do,” I quietly say as I unconsciously pat my leg.

Then, to this amazing partner of mine, I say from my heart: “That was so awesome, buddy.” My dog responds by gently leaning into my leg, and releasing a sigh.

That familiar feeling of throat catching, eyes welling, heart swelling comes over me.

I imagine he is thinking:

There’s no pressure here. She just loves to be here, doing this with me. That is all.

Sue and Kathy getting ready to run at SOTN trialI’m reminded of so many times like this with my dogs.

The times that I soften my body and open my hands into an invitation, and without a spoken word: my dog runs, full speed, eyes smiling and presses her head into my waiting hands.

I am awed to be the subject of this pure adoration, unrequested attentiveness, and eager responsiveness.

As my dog is pressing her head lovingly into my hands, I hope she is thinking:

There’s no pressure here. I love when she invites me into her hands. I love just being here with her. That is all.

 

Special Thanks to Ms Stafford for your inspiring article.

Here’s Your Challenge:

How can you be a better partner for your dog? How will you change the words and underlying feeling as you train, work and compete with your dog? Tell me about it in the comments below. Or, do you have any thoughts you’d like to share on this topic? I will be your eager supporter and I can hardly wait to read your thoughts!

 

 

How to get what you really want

December 21, 2013

Kathy Kawalec's 2014 New Year workshop

My Top 3 Tips

for getting what you really want in life.

And a special invitation…

Did you know that YOU hold the key to unlocking the kind of life you really want. More freedom to do what you like. More fun in all you do. More success. More of all you love. It’s pretty simple, once you know how!

Here are my top 3 tips for getting what you want in life:

1. Get clear about what you really want.

Clarity is at the top of my list, for sure. Most of the time we only think we know what we want…but we haven’t taken the time to connect to what is really important to us. There’s a lot of should do’s, have to’s, need to’s in our life, but not enough: ‘I really, really want this’. Take some time to listen to what’s deep inside your heart, not your head. You might be surprised.

Here’s a hint: your feelings are your best guide for this. How do you want to feel in a certain situation or relationship? Loved, competent, smart, passionate, secure? Then ask yourself: what might be an easy way to feel that way in this situation? Start there and follow that path.

Examples:

1. You think you want that promotion. But what you REALLY want is to feel like you are making a valuable contribution, that your work matters to the greater good somehow. So ask: how can I easily create that feeling in THIS job that I have right now? And, where might I go from there to further satisfy my true desire?

2. You think you want to train your sheep herding dog to do a better outrun. But what you REALLY want is to feel calm and confident, trusting your dog will efficiently gather sheep without upsetting them. So ask: how can I easily create this confidence and trust now, at the level my dog is today. And, how might I go from there to satisfy my true desire?

 

2. Chunk things down into small, do-able bits.

It’s pretty easy to become discouraged, frustrated, to give up when what we want seems impossible. Too big can be overwhelming. So, look at small steps. How can this big thing be chunked down into small, successive and progressive bits that will take you where you want to go? One step at a time, and the next thing you know, you’ve reached your destination!

Here’s a hint: think one day at a time. If you take action, no matter how small, you will get there. One pound at a time. One mile at a time. One good flank at a time. One perfect running contact at a time. One small act of kindness at a time. One choice to take a deep breath before speaking at a time. There is no greater way to be reinforced than to chunk things down like this. Just ask your dog.

Examples:

1. Using our ‘promotion’ example: Today, I’m going to learn how my work has a positive influence on each of my coworkers, and imagine how their life is better because of the great job I do. Next week, I’m going to learn how my work has a positive influence on our customers. I’m going to imagine one customer, and then imagine how their life is better because of the work I do.

2. Using our herding example: Today, I’m going to help my dog ‘feel’ the bubble of the sheep close at hand, and I am going to be calm and trust that my dog wants to feel it too. Next week, we’ll work a bit farther apart, while I stay calm, help my dog develop his feel, and trust that he wants to learn this too. I’ll be sure to expand our distance mindfully, never going beyond the distance that causes me to loose my calm, confidence and trust.

 

3. Fill up your head and your heart with grateful.

You know that dog training concept: ‘your dog can’t jump on you at the same time she’s sitting’? It works for us too. Your mind can’t be occupied with worry, fears, anxiety, and endless ‘what if’s’ if you are in the middle of being grateful. It’s through appreciation for what we already have that we get what we want. I know, it might sound weird to you, but trust me, its a known law of the universe. It works.

Here’s a hint: start with thinking and feeling grateful for the things you love in your life every morning before you get out of bed and every evening in bed before you go to sleep. It’s an old concept called ‘count your blessings’. There’s nothing like it for changing your perspective on life and making each day a little better.

Examples:

1. Today, I am grateful that I have this job, that I am healthy enough to do my work well, and that I am having a positive impact on my coworkers and our customers.

2. Today, I am grateful that I was able to be calm while I worked with my dog, and that my dog is so willing to work with me as we work towards full field gathers, one step at a time.

 

Your special invitation to make 2014 your Best Year Ever

and a thank you…

Devote a Day graphic

For the last 12 years, I’ve been leading a New Year Creative Alchemy workshop…sharing the things I’ve learned over the years for creating the life I love. There is a simple formula, but it’s not always easy to execute. Life happens, if you know what I mean.

That’s where the workshop comes in…we form a great community of folks who love dogs, animals, nature. And who want to make a better life for themselves, and for their dogs and their families. They want to be happy. Just like you and me. It’s an awesome group every year, and many have joined our group every year since the beginning!

The workshop happens via webcast, so you can attend from anywhere…in your jammies! It starts December 29th…a day devoted just to you and your dreams. A day of amazing and powerful creative fun! And everything will be recorded, so if you can’t make the classes, no worries, you can watch later.

I’ve put together a great program that will support you ALL YEAR, with a really, really special price as my ‘Thank You’ to my subscribers and clients. I want to make it easy for everyone to come. Save $50 for you or Save $100 when you enroll a friend until December 22nd.

I believe in you, and I believe every person is on this earth to express their hearts desire…and in doing so makes the world a better place for all of us!

If you cannot afford this low tuition, but want to join us, send me an email and we’ll work it out.

Whatever your dreams are for 2014 and beyond, this program will help make it real for you. And it will be so much fun!

I really hope you’ll join us!

Click the banner for more information and to register:

Kathy Kawalec's 2014 New Year workshop

 

Home for the Holidays

December 2, 2013

As warm, caring and compassionate as the staff at South Suburban Humane Society is…the cats and dogs in their temporary care would LOVE to have a real home for the holidays.

The shelter hosts an annual adoption drive they call “Home for the Holidays”, and once again I have volunteered to do what I can to find some beautiful pets their forever homes.

This year, I am sponsoring a young, friendly and happy mix named Roeper, a sweet and shy cat named Helina, and a pair of year old sisters who are maltese/poodle crosses and as cute as can be!!

I made a video for each of them, and I would love, love, love it if you would spread the word so we can find them all a home.

Here are the the videos:


From the bottom of our hearts…thanks for helping!

Love,
Kathy and the animals…

Maya’s Journey of Transformation

April 9, 2013

Another Story of Transformation I Want to Share with You.

Kathy Kawalec's Maya captured in a painting by Bev Gross

You may know my sweet and sassy Maya…or you may know of her story. She is quite a gal, with a jaded history. 😉

She was kicked out of 3 homes, and stood on death’s door because of her impossible behavior. She was labeled ‘untrainable’, and I was her last chance.

She chased anything that moved including kids, bikes, cows, horses…anything and everything! There was not a fence or gate that could stop her.

That was before she was 6 months old. Yep. She is quite a character.

I spent 6 months working with her, creating partnership, developing self control, training basic life skills … you know … The Foundation Formula stuff.

THEN, and only then, I started her sheepdog training. It was so worth the wait.

I made a video journal of the start of her herding training, and the beginnings of her sheepdog trial career.

You might want to go watch this right now. It turned out she was a world-class champion. Who knew?

Love to you and your dogs,
Kathy xoxo

 

 

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