I recently had the pleasure of spending a day with Katie Scott-Dyer, an awesome dog trainer who kindly invited me to join her at one of her workshops. I won’t give away her secrets, but I can share that the workshop was fabulous.
One of the women who brought her dog to the session taught me something that I not only bring in to working with my own dogs, with clients and people engaging in our social projects, but in every aspect of life.
That’s some lesson!
The human-canine team was made up of Kirsty-Leanne Scott-Dyer (the surname isn’t coincidental, Kirsty-Leanne is Katie’s daughter) and her recently rescued hound, Ren. Young Ren has landed on her paws and is now learning to trust humans and embrace her new life.
The session was set up beautifully for this hound to succeed. Kirsty-Leanne had brought everything that Ren’s heart desired, so she was safe, engaged and enjoying herself.
As the session progressed, Ren was starting to get a bit fed up. She made me smile as she started to ignore Kirsty-Leanne and decided that anything and everything else in that room was more interesting. I’m the same! If I lose interest in a task, I can find absolutely anything more interesting than what I’m supposed to be doing. We’ve all been there, right?!
When our dogs do this, especially when we’re in public, it can be frustrating. We’re doing our best to get their attention, to try and focus them and keeping everything crossed that we can manage the situation. We can feel people looking at us, feel the pressure and we can’t explain to onlookers that our beloved hound is simply trying to cope in the only way they know how.
In that moment, we have to decide what to do.
In that moment, it happened. One question. Five words that have changed my outlook. It was one of the most compassionate moments I have ever had the privilege to witness.
Kirsty-Leanne looked at Ren with kindness, love and without judgement as she calmly asked; ‘how can I help you?’
In that moment, everything changed. It wasn’t about training or the people around them, it was simply about the relationship between two friends. One was struggling and the other wanted to make things better. By asking the question, the answers came and the options opened up. It was a conversation that didn’t need any more words, just a different approach.
Those five words, that one question, can bring about a complete change in any situation. How can I help you? If our dogs aren’t happy, we need to ask the question. If we’re frustrated by another person, we need to ask the question.
We’re all just coping in the only way we know how. Sometimes we cope incredibly well, sometimes we don’t. When it all becomes too much, I’m sure we’d appreciate being asked this question, with kindness.
How can I help you?