Sadie teaches me about assessing risk. . .
Sadie learned how to dock dive recently; it was harder on me than her. The process included her personal risk assessment and concluding that it is a cool thing to do (and a good way for us to tire her out).
Sadie is ball obsessed, any ball, which she will chase as long as you are willing to throw it. Sadie also loves to swim to retrieve balls but we weren’t sure if she would enjoy dock diving (think of a running long jump into a pool). What fools we were.
She did her risk assessment, Sadie was cautious, gathered information, and walked down the ramp the first time to get in the pool. That went OK so then she jumped off the dock to retrieve the ball. Next we tested her willingness to take a running jump into the pool – success! Now we are working on increasing her jumping distance so she can go professional.
Sadie decided after evaluating the risks that dock diving was a safe and fun activity. Other dogs are afraid of the water and may never go in. A few dogs can be coaxed into the pool (not all dogs know how to swim intuitively) and then may or may not jump off the dock. Some dogs, like Sadie, took to it quickly.
But Sadie has one fear that no amount of risk assessment or coaxing will convince her she is not in danger. She is terrified of thunderstorms or any loud noise (door slamming, dropping a heavy object, firecrackers or fireworks). Her fear of thunder is so bad that a rain shower sends her into hiding. We are working on de-sensitizing her to loud sounds but that’s another post.
In spite of Sadie’s deep love of swimming and chasing balls, it there is a distant rumble of thunder or loud noise while dock diving, she drops the ball and runs to us. So what sends you running for shelter? What stops you from doing some things? Your fears and perceptions of risk affect your decisions which stop you from making a change (hopefully for the better). The fear or risk may be valid but can be assessed (use the ramp to enter the pool) and subsequently managed to the point of being acceptable. Or the risk can be so great that you shouldn’t go there now. Remember: if you risk nothing, you get nothing. But you also don’t want to lose everything. Be smart about which risks to take you need to jump off the dock occasionally. Sadie would be happy to join you for a swim.