TEACHING AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS

So, as you know Scott surprises me with every animal that we have in our home. If it was up to me, we would have a cat and maybe Boris, the tortoise.

But, Scott on the other hand, wants our children to have the experience of living on a farm, even though we live in bustling LA county.

When we adopted Riley Apollo last winter, our scruffy Australian cattle dog, we found out quickly he had some quirks and definitely some bad habits.

The night we met Riley Apollo Iler.
I was resistant to this dog. I didn’t want to have to retrain him, teach him the way of the Iler home, and have patience when he would make mistakes.
When we already have 20 plus pets, was it really necessary to take on another animal rescue?
But with every project we take on, I realize I learn something new about myself when I am working through the challenges of a project.

I found out a few things. I have a bad habit of comparing. We have Kiara, our German shepherd, who has lived with us since she was 6 weeks old. I became her mom, the girls were her sisters, and she found Scott as the ultimate master to follow as a lead. She has lived with us through some pretty difficult times, and at the end of the day, I love to snuggle with her. I truly feel like she listens to us as we lament about our day’s challenges, and she has the ability to give puppy kisses when you need it the most. Her looks can be deceiving. She looks ferocious and a bit menacing, but she is terrified of the dark and any stormy night. She is a great listener and she is truly one of the most loyal animals I have ever been around.

Kiara Daisy Iler - my nighttime buddy.

So, when we took on Riley, I immediately thought he would have the same personality since he would be living in our household. Well, I was completely wrong. Just like humans, no two individuals are alike, Riley is almost the polar opposite of Kiara. He is small and sneaky. He is not afraid of the dark, he will take on a bear in the middle of the night, if needed to. No joke, he tried that about a week ago, and he will take food, shoes, avocados, you name it, if he finds it and no one is looking. One time, two times, five times, you would think he would learn.

Nope, he still attempts to do these behaviors.


You might be thinking we need to call in Cesar Milan, the dog whisperer to help with this K-9. But, what I have found is that when we rescued him, over 2 years old, he already had learned some of his behaviors, his innate traits have emerged, and he is different from our other dog. He has some endearing qualities, he has a perpetual smile on his snout, he is always energetic, and he rolls over for belly rubs anytime he meets someone new. He also coughs, yes it sounds like a cough, when he is so excited. He is a bit peculiar but has a very funny sense of humor.


So, how does this pertain to an individual who doesn’t have animals, could care less about experiencing farm life, or observing animal behaviors?

I think we all can learn from this.

How many times have you been asked to try something new? To basically learn a new trick? And there was resistance? It felt uncomfortable, it didn’t come naturally.

Or, how often have you been compared to someone else? Or have you compared your current relationship, work experience, friendship, to a former experience?

I know I am guilty of it. It’s hard not to compare. But, what I have found, is that while I am frustrated that Riley continuously chews up shoes, has accidents on rugs, he does have some qualities that are new and fresh that he adds to the Iler Homestead.


I have also thought it might be time to teach an old dog a new trick or two.


My daughters recently took up embroidery during the dog days of summer. Rebecca is so excited to learn this new hobby. She asked me if I did this when I was her age. I embroidered like crazy when I was ten and I loved it. She encouraged me to take up the hobby again. I have started to embroider, and I enjoy doing this hobby with her.


But I have also found that sometimes it’s okay to move forward from a past hobby/or experience to learn something new. I have immersed myself into the art of flower arranging, floral decor, and table scape design. Although there have been some growing pains to learning a new skill, I am reminded that time and patience is what is needed when taking on any new project.


New business venture. . .Iler Meadows begins to blossom.

Training for a race, adopting a new pet, becoming parents, new business venture, moving to a new space, cultivating a relationship. . . YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO TRY SOMETHING NEW. It might just take a little more time.


And if at all possible, omit the comparison to an experience from before. That will be your biggest variable to lead to defeat.


So, Riley Apollo vs. Kiara Daisy Iler. I solemnly swear I will no longer compare the two of you. And, Rebecca, you are right, it’s never too late to learn something new!


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