I’ve learned through yoga that balance is not stillness, as I first thought. As I waver on one foot and hundreds of micro movements happen in one pose, I’m in a process, not a static pose. It was a great discovery when I learned that, and each time I hope I’ll manage a tree pose, I remind myself trees move.
I’ve come to think about this in relation to Miller too. His state of balance is constantly changing. As a dog with many fears (other dogs, strangers, skateboards, and oddly shaped mail carriers with flapping rain capes among them), his physical balance in the world shifts all the time.
Yoga teachers talk about being balanced on “all four corners of your feet” and I apply it to Miller as well as myself. I look at his body language for cues. I watch his mouth: relaxed, or stiff? Rear end: stiff, with back legs extended, or relaxed, with all four legs evenly settled under his body?
He can shift in a moment, in and out of balance.
He has fears that throw him off, but he also has his joy.
His joy is radiant.
I love to see him smiling as we walk and he’s discovering information in scents along the way, or responding to a cue, like “Up, up!” to jump on a something new. He will turn and look at me and just…. shine. The boy can shine.
Decisions about walks are based on the moment: has it been a day of trigger stacking (one alarm after another) and is he agitated, or is he in a calm state? Based on this information, do we take a familiar route or a new route? Walk routes I imagine may need to change as we go along: I’ve learned to let go of the plan and go with the moment of what is needed. Not a bad life lesson, too.
Behavioural training* is ongoing, built on the foundation of our relationship: trust, safety, and confidence are my goals. We’re both in constant development. Miller is radiant throughout, finding and recovering balance when it’s lost.
*Note: I’m not a certified dog trainer, just passionate about the best outcomes for dogs. If your dog needs support beyond your own skill level, please choose a certified trainer.
Image: Out and about