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The Choice Map and Our New Puppy

IMG_0062-xIn the past few weeks, I’ve discovered a new use for the Choice Map that has helped me a lot—and took me by surprise. After getting past the loss of our 15-year-old Cloe, my husband and I were finally ready to bring a new dog into our family, not just for us but as a companion for our rescue, Bodhi. We spent months on a Learner-Judger roller coaster looking for another rescue, with multiple applications, doggie dates, a video home visit, and no success. The competition was fierce. We discovered that since the pandemic, gazillions of people wanted a dog.

Undeterred, we finally found a breeder in Kentucky named Merlin, picked our new puppy (by photos and a video), and paid someone to drive her to us. We are thrilled with our Abby (Ed came up with the name Abigail Adams!). However, that’s when my Judger hijacks started in earnest.

It is imperative to train a puppy correctly from the very beginning. A dog training school I went to with Cloe had a sign on the wall, “An untrained dog is an unloved dog.” I quickly learned that it wasn’t just the dog being trained, it was the owner—me!

What took me by surprise last week was the amount of self-Judger I had about my ability to train Abby. Of course, I know that a loud and definitive NO! might sound Judger, but the intention is really Learner. The intention of a mother yelling NO! as her child reaches for a hot stove is pure love and protection, even though the expression is harsh. This much I had learned from years of loving our succession of dogs.

IMG_0084Maybe you’ve seen TV shows of the dog whisperer, Cesar Millan. He makes training dogs look so easy. Actually, my husband makes it look easy too because he’s so good at it. But it is not naturally easy for me. I started seeing the disapproving looks and eye rolls of the trainer in the school I went to with Cloe. And I found myself haunted by the Judger questions I was asking myself. They included some whoopers like, “How am I going to screw up?” Will Abby run into the street and get killed because I failed to train her?” “Would Ed ever forgive me?” “Would I ever be able to forgive myself?”

Last weekend, in frigid temperatures and boot-high snow, I was in our backyard with Abby (I was too scared to have her in front near the road). I started asking myself those familiar fear-based Judger questions. Then suddenly I laughed out loud as an image appeared in my mind of the Choice Map with me galloping down the Judger Path towards the Judger Pit, dragging Abby along with me! Some new questions appeared next, like “What would help me feel confident about training Abby?” and “What can I learn from Ed that would help me get good at this?”

The Choice Map is helping me through puppy training, a benefit I never expected. And now I have some questions for you. “In what surprising places in your life might the Choice Map make a difference?” “What Switching questions would lead to your becoming happier, more self-confident, and successful?” All those rescue puppy sites we visited had the puppy asking, “Will you be my forever home?” I realized that the Choice Map has become my forever best friend. And that’s what I want for you too!

Thank you for sharing!

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