I got to spend the other weekend with my brother; always a good time. He came down to spend some time with me, of course, and to get some shots of waves and lighthouses. The weather had ideas that did not fit ours.

The first day we were supposed to go to the coast we had a weather event come in. The pass to the lighthouse we had planned on going to posted a chain restriction. I did not have chains or traction tires on my truck. I live in the Pacific North West, we get rain not snow… most often.

Since he had some things he wanted to pick up while down here we went out that day for that.

The next day we planned to go out again. We got a late start and decided the weather looked better on the next day so tried for some of the closer attractions. We thought Mount St. Helens would be a good go. Things were going well till about three miles from the interpretive center we came to a sheet of ice and our new plan got shut down. We did not make it to a good view of Mount St Helens but tried to make the best of it by going to Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge.

It was a bit of a rush at the refuge so we would not get locked in at dusk. Even with the rush we came out okay for some photos. On the way home we stopped to avoid traffic and found a good deal on an upgrade to one of his purchases. He wanted to talk to his wife before he did the upgrade so we walked away to call her. It was not a big deal because the price was good for one more day. That evening we discovered I was wrong (I know I was as surprised then as you are right now); I was off a day on the date and his upgrade price expired as we sat eating dinner.

After eating Keith went to look at his photos… the files were corrupted. Everything he had shot that weekend was gone. It was appearing that the luck following us around was not the good kind.

The next day day the weather shut us down again. We sat and visited while watching westerns. Not a bad day at all but not really productive. On his last day I was not confident in the roads but we made it back to Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge again to try to at least get him some shots of birds to go home with. It was a good active day. We even got a species of finch I had never hear of before.

Grey-crowned Rosy-finch

The thing that struck me through all this was how my brother just kept moving on from each disappointment. I was impressed by his attitude and ability to adapt to the circumstances (mostly because I am not that way and I was having trouble letting go of HIS setbacks).

My dogs thought I must have passed on through the weekend. They did not see much of me.

So how does this apply to the dogs? It really comes to what we work on. Each day we go out with a plan of what we want to do with our dogs, especially when we plan a training session. The problem is we really do not get too much say. Our dogs or the livestock we have to work will really determine what is worked on in the session.

Sometime we want to work on driving but the stock insists we work on cover. Another time we may want to do a training session on shedding and our dog says we really need to work on stops. And still other days the stock and dogs may co-operate but we really need to work on out timing.

We always need to adapt to what needs to be worked on. This sometimes means we do not feel like we progressed because we may not have worked on our perceived goal. In the end if we adapt to the situations we will actually come out ahead. If we work on what needs to be worked on we will be more ready, and able, to choose what we want to work on later on. If we insist on working on what we want to work on rather then what we need to work on we will not be preparing ourselves, in fact we will be setting ourselves up to be less ready for the more skilled work.

In working our dogs we must adapt to what is happening in the work, on the trial field, and in our training. Rolling with the flow will make us better handlers, benefiting our dogs and livestock.

I think for many people the skill of adapting as they work is a skill hard fought for. We have been taught from a young age to set goals and focus. When things are not going as planned it is easy to get frustrated because of this, rather then adapting to the circumstances. I should mention that adapting is approaching the end goal by varying means not giving up on the goal.

Learning to adjust and adapt is a vital skill to develop in working livestock with dogs (or without). The better we learn this skill the easier it will be to train and work our dogs not to mention as just living our lives.

So get out and work your dogs. Adapt to the situations. Most of all, have fun.

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