A couple weeks ago my little Russian Blue arrived and entered my life. His name is Dragon.
I feel like his journey to embracing the outdoors can be empathized by nearly everyone. It’s about challenging yourself to brave new things and discover the Dragon within you.
I believe life is about facing your fears and pushing yourself to grow. I hope that while I train my Dragon, he and I can inspire you to become something more.
Today was Dragons first time in the mountains. He’s 11 weeks old and everything is new, scary and exciting.
Earlier this week we started taking him around the community on a short leash and taking him to disc golf games in the parks. The longest he’s been outside, up until today, was about 2 hours. Included in this experience are short car rides ranging from 10- 30minutes.
We usually carry a little soft lunchbag for him to rest in, along with food and water.
Today we drove an hour to Canmore and brought Dragon to the Nordic Cente disc golf course. It’s 18 holes of steep hills, dense foliage and lots and lots of walking, lots of walking. I’d venture to even say “hiking.”
I had my mushroom basket as well as the lunchbag and spent the drive making him a custom sweater in case it was cold.
For the most part he follows along with the leash, stopping at times to try climb trees or eat grass. Every once and a while he gets stubborn and lays down, but in that case I just put him in my basket.
Our training includes an incessant amount of cheek rubbing and “good boys.” I have found this simple system extremely effective especially when introducing Dragon to new and potentially uncomfortable situations.
He’s learned to trust me and now he associating new experiences with positive feelings. This method also translates in my life as well.
Having a positive attitude when facing new challenges is key to recalling those particular experiences as positive.
For instance, if I’m trying hiking for the first time and the entire time all I focus on is how heavy my bag is, how much my knees hurt, how hot it is and so forth, when people ask me how it went, all I will remember is the negative words and therefore respond with a negative recollection of the experience.
Conversely, take the same situation with the heavy bag, crappy weather and painful knees but instead I’ll insert sentences like “nature is awesome!” “What great friends I have !” “I’m so lucky to have such a rare experience.” “Canada is so beautiful!”
Regardless of how crappy the actual hike was, guaranteed I will associate those words with an epic experience and be able to tell people (and truly believe it) that I had a kick ass time.
This is what I’m doing with Dragon. For example, cats are notoriously known to not like wearing things. When it was time to try on the sweater, I petted his face and told him what a good boy his was and faced no resistance, rather be merely purred and meowed at me.
Warranted I’ve been consistently training him to associate typically negative things with positive physical and verbal cues these past two weeks so he’s kind of used to it. However, it just goes to show how my attitude and approach to a crappy situation can result in a happy experience.
All I’m saying is when life is hard, scary and intimidating, pick some good words, and say them out loud. Then, thanks to human psychology you will remember the moment to be way better than it actually was and perhaps you’ll be brave enough to give it another go.