27 November 2010

Wake Up Call and Death Sprints

My mornings usually go like this:
Sunrise. Light creeps into my room.
I stretch and yawn.
All hell brakes loose.

When I get up, that means breakfast. Cyprus will jump up and either off the bed or on to me. If Shaman does not move fast enough, Cyprus is back on the bed to move him along. Sometimes I am not ready to get up, so I try to calm Cyprus down and get her back to laying down. This works fairly well, but if I am unable to reign her in before she convinces Shaman it is time to wake, I have to get up.

Having two or more dogs can present issues in and of itself. Individually both dogs are extremely obedient, but in situations like this they can feed off each other and get out of control quickly. I also see this frequently if they are told to STAY and someone or something of interest presents itself. If either dog was alone, there would be no issue and they would not break the STAY command. But together you can watch them start to eye each other. One may lean towards the target, which will cause the other to lean towards it as well. At that point, unless I break out my deep alpha voice, whether it is a twitch of a paw or an all out explosive burst, they are both off after said person or thing trying to be the first to it.

This reminds me of the summer before my senior year in high school. One of my brothers was going to be a freshman and we were both training hard in preparation of the upcoming soccer team tryouts. We would run a half mile loop in my parent's subdivision for up to 10 miles. Yes, extremely boring. Hell, some runs I was solving my computer programing homework in my head as I ran. Anyway, my brothers and I have always been extremely competitive, so when we ran, it would either be at separate times or in different directions as not to cause conflict. One day, at the request of our father, we ran together, side my side. We were supposed to run 8 miles that day and things started innocently enough. However, one of us must have pulled slightly ahead of the other, causing us both to start running faster. Not saying a word, next thing we know we are in an all out sprint, throwing elbows. We did not even make it a third of the way around the first loop before we were both physically spent and on the verge of vomitting. The more I think about this moment, there was no reasoning behind our unplanned sprint. It was pure instinct. We had to beat the other one.

Cyprus throwing an elbow
With time my brothers and I were able to run together, generally peacefully, and definitely without any death sprints breaking out and consuming us. And with dogs I am sure with group rather than indiviual training I could break them of their similar competitive drive to beat the other. It would kill me if they got injured or killed chasing after something simply because one thought the other was going to get to something first. But at the same time, it is this competitive streak that can help one excel and improve in many aspects of life. Of course I am confident that I can train them to ignore the other and stay put and not even remotely damage any innate desire or instinct. Still, when I see the dogs push harder and harder to get one up on the other, I see a glimpse of me and my brothers, our sprints to the death, and have a hard time not smiling.