Last week my friend Lynda and I went for a walk with the dogs. Yes the snow was close to a meter deep (that is about a yard for our American friends) but the dogs didn’t care — they wanted their walk!

Now walking up and down hills around the perimeter of our snow covered 28 acre property may not sound like fun to all of you, but hey, it is February and it is Canada, it is what it is:).

Plus, I have my ultra modern, spanky-doo snow shoes which prevents you from sinking down into the snow as far — making walking more than fun! Every time I put them on it reminds me of my grandfather. My grandfather was a missionary amongst the Cree Indians in the far northern most part of Ontario. He had only dog sleds and snow shoes to get around back then (early 1930’s) so I don’t think I have it too tough taking a short walk with my dogs.

However poor Lynda has no snowshoes and I have pretty much stopped offering her mine. She has just always refused to try them — I really found it strange. Now you may say it is because Lynda is kind and she just doesn’t want to take my snow shoes and leave me without. Yes, I would agree that may be part of it, but even when she goes walking without me she refuses to wear the snow shoes. So weird.

It doesn’t matter that wearing them will make your job a lot easier or allow you to enjoy the nature around you so you aren’t just “enduring” a trudge through the snow drifts. It is just that, walking in  snowshoes is a different adventure and hey, why not embrace the chance of every new adventure you can?

So last week after our latest dump of fresh snow, like the good friend that she is,  Lynda was up to help me with the puppy and we decide to go out for a walk. Half way around our walk Lynda is in pain. The snow is up midway up her thigh, her heart rate is approaching that of a pediatric on a racing treadmill and the hill ahead of us now looks like Mt Everest to her.  Of course me and my show shoes are trucking along quite happily.

Once again I offer the snow shoes, once again she says she refuses to try them. So I take off one and just strap it on her – telling her to start with one. With a few minutes she concedes to wear them both. It is like a new birth. She is positively giddy, she can’t believe the difference they make and like a kid with a new pair of roller skates she is off. She exclaims “this is so easy, I can run!” as she takes off leaving me in the powder of her snow:).

I got an e-mail from Lynda that night saying she had just ordered her own pair of snow shoes.

Lynda with the show shoes on a flat part of our walk — notice the snow up the back of her pants showing the tougher terrain she had hiked through.

So what has this got to do with all of you. Lynda has been the focus of a lot of lessons in the Say Yes program.

As a student she volunteered for everything she could here at Say Yes just to surround herself with much dog training as possible. Eventually she was a regular in the kitchen and behind the scenes. As the years progressed and her dog training excellence was obvious I tried to get her to teach. She always refused. Once again I had to “strap on a single shoe”

I started by getting her to do demos then asked her to “assist me” with a class. She was brilliant, a natural teacher with amazing observational skills. As a matter of fact a lot of the changes in my program are due to Lynda’s great observations.

I tried to get her to teach a class of her own — again no luck. Again I strap on a single snow shoe, I get her to assist me with a class without letting her know I would be missing more then one class along the way were she would have to take over head instruct the group all on her own.

So this has morphed to were we are today. Lynda knows my program as well as I do and she teaches seminars all over the world. Yes she is running in those snow shoes.

Still she is sometimes reluctant to try new and completely different adventures. Personally I think it is the perfectionist in her. She is so good and so many things, she is more reluctant to jump into something when she can’t predict how perfect she will be able to do it but at least she eventually comes around and puts on the snow shoes.

Being a risk taker may be natural to some of us but it can be a learned behaviour for the rest of you! The more you put yourself out there and strap on new challenges the more you will discover things that may have appeared difficult at first but are really just one new skill awaiting for your mastery and in fact can enhance your life dramatically.

Lesson for the day; we all need to go and try on our snow shoes. It could be your coach trying to encourage you to try a new handling move or a fitness instructor believing you can “do this” when you don’t think you can. Or it may be much more radical that that, like keeping a male puppy when you really only ever wanted a female:). Whatever it is, embrace the unknown and try it, you will never know how much in may improve your dog training, agility handling or life!

Today I am grateful for Lynda who is not only a great friend, great dog trainer and great instructor of people; she is also confident enough in herself to allow me to talk/write about her journey allowing so many others to benefit from her experiences along the way.