So, Squash and I had a pretty mediocre run today. And It was pretty much all my fault.
As I was taking the scooter out of the car, I dropped it. The scooter is fine, it would take a lot more than dropping it a foot to damage that sucker. But I did break the handlebar mount for the GoPro.
I just should have let it go. I don’t take pictures and video every time we go out, anyway… but today was the first time we’d been out since our encounter with the giant vacuum cleaner/leaf blower. I’ve been curious to see how much of that drive carried over and wanted to document it. So I figured out a way to salvage the mount, but it meant I had to raise the handlebars a little. And when I did THAT, a little piece of… well, let’s just say that I experienced a minor but exceedingly annoying equipment snafu that ascended to aggravating over the next 30 minutes it took to get everything back and adjusted and ready to actually go on our run. 30 minutes that elapsed between Squash’s pre-run walk, that he was bored and didn’t really have anything to do but listen to me be annoyed and mutter angrily and swear at the scooter.
When we were ready to go, I felt good and cheery again but Squash was clearly off from the very start. He normally waits really well in his line out (though his line could stand to be tighter) but twice in a row he followed me back to the scooter, yawning and shaking off, and mugged for attention. Two more times that I tried stopping to “reset” and restart he did the exact same thing. And while he had some good stretches of pulling, he also had long stretches where he was really just disconnected. He wasn’t stopping, he was just tuned out, lagging, and unengaged.
It took me a while to stop thinking “what is up with Squash today?” and realize what was going on. Really, what I had done, because even though I hadn’t been muttering or swearing AT him, I was doing it NEAR him. Essentially, I created a hostile work environment and then expected him to turn his back on what a few minutes before had been my grumpy, foul-mouthed doppleganger and concentrate. Would you want to turn your back on someone who might transform back into a grumpy, foul-mouthed version of themselves at any moment and concentrate on your work? Me either.
So we pushed through a couple of laps with a LOT of happy cheerleading. He did get closer to his normal, jolly self by the end. And afterwards, in an attempt to sweep away any remaining negativity, we went for an especially long post-run walk and played “run around and squeak the ball” in the backyard for awhile when we got home. Now he’s happily chewing on a bully stick.
He’s a resilient boy, I’m not worried this will sour him on scootering for life or anything. It would take a lot more than this to damage him. But it was a very good lesson for me on a few levels: 1. Negativity really DOES travel down the leash (line); people don’t say that just for giggles, 2. Don’t be a jerk and then expect your dog to perform as if nothing had happened, and 3. Be open to the lesson; if things aren’t going as planned, you need to be open to the idea that it might be your fault. And also, after all of that what video I DID get was pretty much unusable, which is probably a big old meta-lesson.
We’ll try again another day and it might be a good day or a bad day. There is always joy in the good days and usually a lesson in the bad days that teaches me how to do better next time, so none of it is time wasted.