The kids were very good--really, they were a charming distraction that paid lavish compliments to the owner about his dog. And Joey was good too, after he calmed down and his hackles went down. But not Ace! He just doesn't like puppies, I guess. They are a little too excited for him, and he doesn't like that. Twice, he lunged at this puppy. Thankfully, the puppy hid behind his owners legs after the second time. I say "thankfully" because, even though I felt sorry for the puppy, I hoped he learned whatever lesson Ace was trying to teach him and would stay away from him.
We went for a walk to try to diffuse the situation, and the owner was very kind and laid back about it all. I think if it was my dog, I wouldn't be quite so laid back but this guy must be desperate to find a sitter. Anyway, we got the job, so overall, it's good news.
Still, I went home feeling quite humbled. I don't feel like a trainer in these situations. I feel like I should have seen it coming with how Ace reacted. I'm trained to look for body behavior and somehow--again--I've missed the signs. Twice now--with two different dogs--Ace has lunged at puppies (one year and under.) I should have been more prepared for him to react that way, and I wasn't. It feels horrible feeling like this.
It doesn't help that every time I talk about my dog experiences on Facebook--whether they are good experiences or bad--my dog trainer friend never comments on them. It's like she's chosen to stay out of the whole thing. Many times, she told me flat out that she thought it was a stupid idea to bring a dog into a big family and that I wasn't being fair to the dog because he would eventually bite one of the kids and wind up back in the shelter again.
Well, I'm happy to say we've proved her wrong on that, but I'll admit that I wish I could have more support from her. It's times like these that I just need a "thumbs up" or some encouraging comment because I feel scared to go on. Support from a trainer, someone that understands what it feels like when just starting out, means more than support from others. They know what it's like to be a rookie.
This morning, as I was preparing for the meet and greet, I thought about canceling. I was worried this would be a bad idea, a disaster, like last time. But then a strange thought popped into my head:
Why don't you give yourself a chance?
I don't know where this thought came from, but at any rate, it was a good question. Why don't I give myself a chance?? Why do I give up before I even try? How will I ever know if I'm good at something (or not), if I don't find out? Why don't I think I deserve a chance to learn as much as anyone else? Why do I limit myself so much? And on and on the questions went.
So I kept the appointment. And you know the rest.
I know it won't be the first time I doubt myself, or the last time I will feel humbled at my lack of knowledge and lack of experience. But I don't want to teach my kids to be afraid to try something just for the fear of failure, so this is what makes me keep trying more than anything. I know they are always watching me, recording every little thing I say (so they can remind me about it later!)
Confidence. I just need confidence in myself. A chance--and many of them--to learn and fail and learn again. I deserve this chance as much as anybody. I've worked hard to get this far and it would be stupid to give up now.
So I will bolster up my courage and try again with dog sitting. And whatever happens, I can at least chalk it up as some experience under my belt for my next time.